22

August

Walking Wounded: Eight Packers Candidates for Injured Reserve Or PUP

Andrew Quarless Injury

TE Andrew Quarless will probably start the year on the PUP list.

The first NFL roster cut-down of the season is fast approaching. On Monday, August 27th, the Green Bay Packers will need to have trimmed their roster down to 75 players from their current total of 90.

Even though these are essentially the worst players on the team, the decision of who to cut is a tough one. Not only do Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson need to consider the skill of each player, but they also have to take into account the remaining depth they’ll have to work with for the remainder of the preseason. This being the case, the first roster cut-down can be a good time to declare some of the Injured Reserve (IR) or Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) players for the start of the season.

As a reminder, only players who did not practice at all during training camp are eligible for the PUP. They remain on the list for the first six weeks of regular season, after which they have a three-week window to return to practice. From the point at which the player returns to practice, the team has an additional three weeks to decide whether to elevate them to the 53-man roster, place them on injured reserve, or release them.

Here is a group of eight players who could possibly end up on one of these lists during the upcoming roster cut-down:

Physically Unable to Perform (PUP)

  1. TE Andrew Quarless – On December 4, 2011, Quarless suffered a severe knee injury in kickoff coverage against the New York Giants. On January 9th, he had reconstructive knee surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). There was always a chance he could miss the entire 2012 season, and with the depth at tight end, there’s no reason to rush Quarless back from recovery. Chances are good he’ll remain on the PUP list to start the season.
  2. T Derek Sherrod – On December 18, 2011, while filling in for RT Bryan Bulaga against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sherrod broke his left leg when LB Tamba Hali rolled onto it. Though his progress as has been good, there’s not really a timetable on his return. The situation at back-up left tackle could really help to determine his fate. If the Packers feel comfortable with Reggie Wells, Herb Taylor, and/or Andrew Datko, then the PUP list could be the way they go for Sherrod. Otherwise, they might keep him active in hopes of an earlier return.
13

April

Packers 2012 Offensive Line Scenarios

Packers offensive tackle Derek Sherrod

2012 is a big season for Packers T Derek Sherrod

Injuries to Chad Clifton, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga meant that the Packers offensive line never really gelled last season. Guys like Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith did a decent enough job filling in, but the line never got rolling like I thought it would.

This might be a little tricky to attempt before the draft, but let’s take a look at several offensive line scenarios for the 2012 season. If/when injuries hit, what are the Packers options and potential lineups up front?

Scenario 1
LT Chad Clifton, LG T.J. Lang, C Jeff Saturday, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga.

This is the ideal scenario. In a perfect world, Clifton comes back, he’s healthy and productive, and the Packers trot out the same five guys every week. We can dream, right?

Scenario 2
LT Derek Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

Maybe Clifton gets cut or goes down early in the season and the Packers have to once again fill a hole at left tackle. If that happens, the ideal situation is for Sherrod to come back from his broken leg and step right in, showing improvement from his rookie season and becoming the left tackle of the future. Bulaga would stay at right tackle and the future would bright. If only it was that easy…

Scenario 3
LT Bulaga, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Newhouse

Clifton is cut or hurt and Sherrod isn’t ready to start. That makes Bulaga the major chess piece in this scenario. Do you move him from the right side over to Aaron Rodgers’ blind side on the left? I would. Newhouse was adequate on the left side in 2011, but I’m confident that Bulaga would have no trouble adjusting and would be much better than adequate. On a team with Super Bowl aspirations, adequate just isn’t good enough.

Scenario 4
LT Newhouse/Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

If Clifton makes the team, but gets hurt during the season, I’d be fine with keeping Bulaga on the right side. There’s no need to start playing musical chairs during the season unless absolutely necessary. But what if it is absolutely necessary?

Scenario 5
LT Lang LG Evan Dietrich-Smith/Ray Dominguez/??? C Saturday RG Sitton RT Bulaga

2

November

Rating the Rookies: Cobb Leads Packers 2011 Class Through 7 Games

The rookies on the Green Bay Packers roster have yet to complete a half-season in 2011, but the bye week in Week 8 gave us an opportunity to gauge how the Packers’ first-year players look through seven games.

Snap-counts and statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus

T Derek Sherrod (R1)

The Packers wanted him to take hold of the left guard position coming into training camp, but that experiment died in a hurry when Sherrod couldn’t handle the switch. He’s a right or left tackle from this point on. The only major action Sherrod has seen this season came against the Falcons in Week 5. After Chad Clifton went down with a hamstring injury, Sherrod filled in at right tackle as Marshall Newhouse slid over to the left side. Of the 51 snaps he played, 36 came on passing plays, and Sherrod allowed just two quarterback pressures and no sacks or hits. That kind of snap distribution shows the confidence that the Packers have in their rookie at right tackle in pass protection. Sherrod also came in on seven snaps (five run, two pass) against the Broncos in Week 4.

WR/KR Randall Cobb (R2)

GM Ted Thompson drafted Cobb in the second round to be the Packers primary return man and a sub-package receiver that can make plays in space. So far, that’s exactly what Cobb has been. He has returned every punt and kick save one, which was a squib kick that Tom Crabtree got his hands on. Cobb has done his best work on kicks, where his 30.5-yard average (13 returns, 396 yards) ranks fifth in the NFL among players with eight or more returns. Of course, his 108-yard TD against the Saints on opening night is the highlight of the season. He also lost a fumble in Carolina that contributed to the Packers falling down by 13 points in the first quarter.

Cobb hasn’t had the same impact on punt returns, where his 12 returns have yielded just 97 yards (8.1 average). Cobb has 11 fair catches. His only muffed punt of the season in Minnesota gave the Vikings good field position to re-take the lead, 14-7.  In the same game, Cobb had a 42-yard punt return that set up a Packers touchdown.

12

October

Packers Send Nick Collins to IR; Ray Dominguez Elevated to 53-Man Roster

The Green Bay Packers finally placed injured safety Nick Collins (neck) on IR Wednesday, as the Packers used his vacated roster spot to elevate G/T Ray Dominguez from the practice squad to bolster an offensive line that has been ravaged by injuries.

Collins, a three-time All-Pro, was hurt in Week 2 against the Panthers as he attempted to make a tackle on Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart. He had successful fusion surgery to repair the injury but his season was ruled over by team physicians.

The Packers waited to put Collins on IR until now, as GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy attempted to find a hole in the roster that needed filling. Chad Clifton’s hamstring injury last Sunday against the Falcons eventually forced the Packers hand. Coupled with an inactive Bryan Bulaga (knee), the Packers went through the rest of the Falcons game with only six healthy offensive lineman.

Instead of rolling the dice once more with that situation, the Packers promoted Dominguez, an undrafted rookie from Arkansas who can play both inside and at tackle. Dominguez (6-4, 334) had a shaky preseason and training camp but continued to show improvement, which prompted the Packers to retain him on the practice squad after the final cuts were made.

McCarthy said on Wednesday that Dominguez would “primarily play inside,” which doesn’t rule out the possibility of playing tackle but suggests that he’ll get most of his reps at guard. Either way, Dominguez is there for depth purposes.

Bulaga also returned to practice on Wednesday, which is an encouraging sign for his health this week and moving forward. With Clifton out, the Packers are welcoming his return, despite how well both Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod played in their respective roles in Atlanta. The Packers mixed and matched the three at various positions on Wednesday, making it unclear what the plan is for St. Louis. If Bulaga is healthy, however, I’d guess that he remains on the right side while Newhouse starts at left tackle. Sherrod would then be the backup at right tackle should either of those two go down.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

4

September

Updated: Packers Practice Squad Includes QB Graham Harrell and 3 WRs

The Packers signed QB Graham Harrell to the practice squad on Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers signed eight players to their practice squad on Sunday, including QB Graham Harrell and three WRs.

Signed to the practice squad were WR Diondre Borel, T/G Ray Dominguez, C Sampson Genus, WR Tori Gurley, QB Graham Harrell, CB Brandian Ross, RB Brandon Saine and WR Chastin West.

All eight signees to the practice squad were with the Packers during training camp.

Harrell: In 18 series during the preseason, Harrell generated two touchdowns and three field goals and a passer rating of 75.7. Packers coach Mike McCarthy appeared to be high on Harrell early in the preseason, but the former Texas Tech standout never caught fire to solidify a permanent roster spot. Perhaps Harrell was doomed to be cut anyway. No. 2 QB Matt Flynn had a firm hold on the backup slot and McCarthy said he wasn’t going touse a spot on the active gameday roster for a third QB.

Gurley: I thought Gurley’s size and success on special teams would earn him a roster spot as a sixth WR, especially since Donald Driver has continued to show signs of aging. The Packers only kept five WRs, however, like they usually do. I didn’t think the Packers would be able to retain Gurley, but I’m sure glad they did. Even though the Packers seem to favor smaller WRs, I think it will be nice to have a bigger WR to bring up if Driver or someone else goes down.

West: He had five catches for 134 yards against the Cardinals, but only managed three catches for 18 yards in the other three preseason games. West flashed some potential at times during camp, but never stood out. In other words, he’s perfect for the practice squad.

Borel: Hey look, another WR on the practice squad! When you throw as much as McCarthy does and rely on receivers to make plays after the catch, I guess you can never hoard enough of them. Borel is very athletic and very raw. I’m guessing Gurley and West will be called up before Borel should an active WR get hurt.

Dominguez: The Packer only kept eight offensive linemen and Dominguez was one of the big guys left out. The Packers converted him from T to G and Dominguez played well enough to merit serious consideration for the active roster. He’ll benefit from the development time on the practice squad.