16

September

The BIG 3 are Coming up Huge for the Packers Defensive Line

Ryan “Big Grease” Pickett has anchored the Packers defensive line through the first two weeks.

The big three — and I literally mean the B-I-G three — on the Packers defensive line have come to play through the season’s first two games.

Packers = soft? It looks like B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly have taken it upon themselves to change that equation.

The trio, which weighs a combined 1,000 pounds, played a key role in containing Colin Kaepernick’s running and shutting down Frank Gore in week one. On Sunday against the Redskins, they collapsed the pocket in the first half, allowing blitzers to get in Robert Griffin III’s face.

Pickett even swatted a pass and Raji was wagging his finger after a couple stuffs at the line.

All three players are free agents after this season. It’s an easy talking point to say that players are better in their contract years, but I don’t necessarily buy that theory (that talking point has been proven false, for fantasy football purposes, anyway).

Pickett is a prideful leader who wants to prove he still belongs. Jolly knows he’s beyond lucky to have another shot at both life and the NFL. Raji is an uber-talented player who can be unblockable in stretches.

Whatever the reason, all three are playing great and it seems like they’re energy is giving the entire defense a boost. I’m really looking forward to what this defense can do when Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward return and take advantage of what the Big Three are doing up front.

Sure, it’d be nice to get more of a pass rush out of the Packers’ defensive line, but if the Big Three can keep can keep winning their one-on-one matchups, it should free up others to get after the QB while keeping the run defense strong.

Another player to watch: Datone Jones.

The rookie has been invisible the first two weeks. Not sure if his ankle is still bothering him or if he’s just going through the typical struggles of a rookie defensive lineman. Either way, if he manages to come around and provide a little pass rush, this d-line could go from solid to downright dangerous in a hurry.

I know it’s early. But through two games, we can’t call this Packers defense soft (a little lost in the secondary at times, maybe, but not soft). A big reason for that is the play of Pickett, Raji and Jolly.

23

August

Pre Season Week 3 – Packers vs. Seahawks: Keys to the Game

Packers vs Seahawks

Wilson will provide the Packers with their first test with a mobile quarterback in 2013

Please forgive my hiatus for last week’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams contest.  I was temporarily brainwashed to think that my post would write itself.  But I digress. . .

This week’s pre season game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Friday.  As John Rehor of Packers Talk has said, this is not a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football debacle.  Dubbed the “Fail Mary” game, it incited a lot of controversy and left many Packers fans wanting vengeance against both the man (the Seahawks) and the machine (Roger Gooddell and the NFL).  But alas, as John said, it’s not a rematch.  It’s just a pre season game.

Still, week three of the NFL pre season has long been considered a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season and the starting units typically see their longest stint on the field during this game.  It’s more of a true litmus test to see how a team looks and how prepared they are for the upcoming regular season.  While there may be some chatter from the players and media, the Packers need to drown that out and focus.

During the offseason, the Seahawks got busy in acquiring more pieces to complete their team and get even better than last year when they came within inches and seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game.  They traded a first round draft pick for receiver Percy Harvin to give quarterback Russell Wilson another solid target.  Harvin promptly injured his hip and had to have surgery, which will prevent his Seattle debut until some time in November, if at all.  Seattle also brought in former Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to help with their pass rush and former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield to add some experience to their defensive backfield.

Seattle comes into this season as not only a favorite to win the NFC West, but they are also considered by many to be front runners for the NFC and the Super Bowl.  This should provide a solid test for the Packers, who also figure to be in the mix for a deep playoff run.  Let’s drill down on the keys for the Packers in this week’s game and also some of the position battles that are still in full swing.

23

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #2 — Defensive Line Depth

Packers first-round pick Datone Jones will be asked to play a big role as a rookie. Is he ready to be a starter?

Packers first-round pick Datone Jones will be asked to play a big role as a rookie. Is he ready to be a starter?

When the Green Bay Packers took the field against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs, they did so with just five defensive linemen: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Ryan Pickett, C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal.

This offseason, the Packers have a mess of defensive linemen, competing for six or seven roster spots. Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Daniels, Neal and Jerel Worthy return to the team this year, along new competition from 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones, fifth-round pick Josh Boyd and Johnny Jolly.

With nine defensive linemen competing for spots on the 53-man roster, it’s a foregone conclusion that some players will be let go.

Last year, the Packers kept six defensive linemen: Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Worthy, Daniels and Phillip Merling. Merling only played in three regular-season games, as Neal was forced to serve a four-game suspension to start the season.

The Packers may very well have a similar situation this offseason with Worthy. Coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 16 of last season, Worthy seems like a candidate to begin the season on the PUP list. If that’s the case, it seems likely that the Packers would, again, keep six linemen before making a decision on who is let go once Worthy returns.

Throughout OTAs, the Packers wanted to get a look at Neal at outside linebacker. And earlier this month on Packers Central, hosted by Zach Kruse and me, Worthy said there’s reason to be excited about Neal standing up.

“All I can say about Mike Neal moving to outside linebacker is look out,” Worthy said. “That’s all I can say. There’s about to be some hell to pay for whoever has to deal with him.”

Whether Neal plays as a true outside linebacker or as an interior pass rusher, it’s clear the team views him as one of its most talented pass rushers. And towards the end of the season, Neal may have been the team’s second-most efficient pass rusher after Clay Matthews.

With a deeper group of defensive linemen this season, players who specialize in the pass-rush department may be able to focus on that more than in years past. Raji and Pickett will assume two starting spots, and the third spot will likely come down to Jones or Wilson.

21

June

Who’s Next on the Packers’ Chopping Block?

tramon-picksix-atlanta

Could Tramon Williams fall victim to Ted Thompson’s axe before next season?

Packers fans have seen a lot of big names and sentimental favorites either cut or allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency over the last two seasons.

The most recent casualty was Desmond Bishop. The inside linebacker’s exit came after guys like Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Tom Crabtree and Scott Wells were given their walking papers or not resigned in the last two offseasons.

Of course, losing name players always gets a certain segment of Packers fans riled up. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of players cut or not resigned by Packers GM Ted Thompson have gone on to do very little once they’re picked up by another team. The initial shock of losing a player who fans have formed some type of connection with usually causes some sort of backlash.

So, who’s next? Which one of our beloved Packers will be axed by the evil Thompson or not resigned because Packers salary cap whiz Russ Ball says, “Screw the fans! This guy isn’t worthy half of what he’s asking!”

Here are some possible candidates (I tried to limit it to players that the fans generally like. Hence, Jermichael Finley was not included):

CB Tramon Williams
Throwing Williams’ name out there makes me feel like Skip Bayless, but consider: 1) Williams will be 31 next season; 2) He’s due to make $6.9 million in 2014; 3) He hasn’t been able to repeat the success he had in 2010; 4) The Packers have a lot of young talent in the secondary; 5) He’s been bothered by a bum shoulder going on two years now. Kind of sounds like a prime candidate to fall victim to Thompson’s axe, doesn’t it?

FB John Kuhn
If the Packers had any sort of confidence in the pass-blocking ability of the running backs currently on the roster, I think they would wave bye-bye to Kuhn and his $1.8 million salary today. Packers fans boo Kuhn whenever he touches the ball, anyway, so maybe they wouldn’t be too upset about this. Wait…oh, they’re saying “Kuuuuuuhn!” Never mind, fans would be pissed. But Kuhn isn’t going anywhere unless one of the young backs shows the immediate ability to read blitzes and be a shut-down pass blocker.

7

May

Ryan Pickett Interview on Packers Talk Radio Network

Packers Defensive L:ineman Ryan Pickett

Packers Defensive Lineman Ryan Pickett

Green Bay Packer defensive lineman Ryan Pickett recently joined the hosts of CheesheadRadio to talk about football, his charitable endeavors, “his “grizzled veteran” status at 33 yrs old, and his outlook on life in general. It’s a fascinating interview that gives you a unique look inside the mind of this huge man with a heart of gold.

The Pickett interview starts at the 17:00 mark, but I hope you’ll have time to listen to the entire show and become a regular Cheesehead Radio subscriber on itunes or listener on Blog Talk Radio.

———————–

Find out more out Ryan’s Charitable foundation, Team 79, at theryanpickettfoundation.com, and get the full details about his Celebrity Golf Tournament coming up at  Barona Creek Golf Club in Lakeside, CA.

Here’s some info on Ryan’s Golf Tournament:

WHAT The Ryan Pickett Celebrity Golf Classic is a star-studded weekend affair at the award-winningBarona Creek Golf Club located at the beautiful Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside, CA
WHEN Friday, June 21 – “White Party” Pairings Dinner
Saturday, June 22 – Celebrity Golf Classic and Awards Bar-be-que
WHERE Barona Resort & Casino1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
(Lakeside is located just 40 minutes from downtown San Diego)
WHO Green Bay Packers Defensive End, Ryan Pickett, has invited his Packer’s teammates and greats along with other celebrity friends including: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, Sterling Sharpe and many more!
WHY The proceeds from the event will benefit children in the foster care system in both Green Bay and San Diego.

For more details, visit theryanpickettfoundation.com

——————

Follow Jersey Al:


                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

——————

4

May

Packers Defensive Line Entering Big Contract Year

Packers defensive linemen Neal, Wilson, and Pickett are all set to become free agents in 2014.

Packers defensive linemen Neal, Wilson, and Pickett are all set to become free agents in 2014.

In the wake of the Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews contract extensions, many of us have been wondering how the Green Bay Packers will utilize their remaining cap space. How they use it will depend a lot on the current players who will be free agency following this season. Not counting the recent restricted free agent tenders and offseason signings, there are a total of fourteen Packers players entering their final year of a multi-year contract.

One of the major concerns, though, is that four of those players – or over a quarter of them – are defensive linemen. And not just any defensive lineman. They accounted for 38 starts, 51 total games played, and 2,108 defensive snaps in 2012. Take a look:

  • Ryan Pickett, DT, 33, 13th yr.
    (2012: 16 starts, 16 games, 658 snaps – 2nd DL, 3.8 PFF grade – 2nd DL)
  • B.J. Raji, DT, 26, 5th yr.
    (2012: 14 starts, 14 games, 768 snaps – 1st DL, 6.5 PFF grade – 1st DL)
  • Mike Neal, DE, 25, 4th yr.
    (2012: 0 starts, 10 games, 323 snaps – 5th DL, 3.4 PFF grade – 3rd DL)
  • C.J. Wilson, DE, 26, 4th yr.
    (2012: 8 starts, 11 games, 359 – 4th DL, -2.1 PFF grade – 6th DL)

Obviously, Pickett and Raji are the two biggest names to be worried about. They are the workhorses of the defensive line and pretty much have been since their first years in Green Bay. Neal and Wilson aren’t every-down players, but they’ve proven their worth and could still show some improvement.

Unfortunately, the contract situations of these players are being pressured by multiple forces. Ted Thompson has drafted four defensive linemen in the past two drafts, who could each be major players: Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, and Josh Boyd. (There’s also Jordan Miller and Gilbert Pena looming in the shadows.) But in addition to the performance pressures, there are also going to be financial ones. Some other big-name players are going to be hitting the market in 2014, as well. Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, James Jones, and Marshall Newhouse are all going into their final contract year, plus Evan Dietrich-Smith and Sam Shields are currently on restricted free agent tenders that last just a year.

2

May

Ryan Pickett is the Special Guest Tonight on CheeseheadRadio – Tune in.

CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network, will be live tonight with special guest Ryan Pickett.  Ryan will be coming on to talk some Packers football and get the word out about the first annual Ryan Pickett Celebrity Golf Classic.

Show Starts at 8:00PM Central and can be heard live at BlogTalkRadio.com.

Here’s some info on Ryan’s Golf Tournament:

WHAT The Ryan Pickett Celebrity Golf Classic is a star-studded weekend affair at the award-winning Barona Creek Golf Club located at the beautiful Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside, CA
WHEN Friday, June 21 – “White Party” Pairings Dinner
Saturday, June 22 – Celebrity Golf Classic and Awards Bar-be-que
WHERE Barona Resort & Casino, 1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
(Lakeside is located just 40 minutes from downtown San Diego)
WHO Green Bay Packers Defensive End, Ryan Pickett, has invited his Packer’s teammates and greats along with other celebrity friends including: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, Sterling Sharpe and many more!
WHY The proceeds from the event will benefit children in the foster care system in both Green Bay and San Diego.

For more details, visit theryanpickettfoundation.com

——————

Follow Jersey Al:


                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

——————