28

August

Post – Indy Thoughts on the State of the Packers

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews sacks the Colts' Curtis PainterAfter reading a few quick items in he sports pages this morning I’m not sure how much extra insight I’m going to bring to the table regarding the PACKERS win over the COLTS Friday night, but here goes…

What more can a coaching staff hope for in the Pre-Season than a game that goes right down to the wire and requires back-ups and rookies to secure a victory in the clutch? How psychologically rewarding is it for MASON CROSBY to redeem himself from an earlier FG miss with a clutch game-winning kick in the final minute?

I would say I saw two negatives that I am sure MIKE McCARTHY and his staff will be concentrating on in the next two weeks. The first team offense was plagued by some untimely (not that there is any such thing as timely) penalties that hampered several scoring drives. The OL was a bit less than stellar in protecting AARON RODGERS from the COLTS pass-rush… in particular DWIGHT FREENEY.

FREENEY, who is still at the top of his game, made CHAD CLIFTON look like an old man on multiple occasions. CLIFTON should be OK most weeks, since there are not many DEs in the league of FREENEY’s caliber. But I’ll just voice the opinion that for the long term DEREK SHERROD had better make a ton of progress during the 2011 campaign so that he can handle that LT position by the time the 2012 season rolls around.

Though not dominant by any means, I thought the PACKERS RBs looked good overall. RYAN GRANT showed flashes of his old self, and JAMES STARKS was monster as a receiver out of the backfield. ALEX GREEN continues to show some ability, and tons of potential, in limited time as the 3rd RB. BRANDON SAINE continues to show flashes both as a runner and a receiver, but there isn’t room on the roster for 4 RBs this year. Not with the quality logjam at TE. And don’t forget JOHN KUHN will be a FB/RB swing man once again this season.

Overall, the PACKERS OL would seem to be the unit most in need of improvement as camp winds down. This is not unexpected because of their youth and the team’s decision to let DARYN COLLEDGE leave town as a VFA, and hold open auditions for his replacement. My money is still on T.J. LANG, but he shows some of the same inconsistency that plagued COLLEDGE for years.

21

August

Talking Packers With ESPN Radio and Pigskin Paul

I was on the air with CHAD HOLMES @ ESPN Radio 100.5 in Wausau last night and he brought up a plethora of PACKERS questions for discussion. Since there is no posting of the show to send you to I thought I’d summarize some of our topics that might be of interest to PACKERS fans.

We discussed the lack of off-season OTAs and such this year, and whether or not it hurts the PACKERS, or gives them a slight advantage as an experienced, defending Super BOwl squad. Other than teams with new coaching staffs I think the PACKERS as a team will be hurt by the 4+ months of no contact. I say that primarily because under the TED THOMPSON regime this team relies of developing younger players to develop into starters.

Any time they lost that could have spent working with young guys like NICK McDONALD, FRANK ZOMBO, MARSHALL NEWHOUSE, JAMES STARKS, et al (not to mention their Rookies) can’t be regained. And progress lost, though hard to gauge, is a consequence of the Lockout. If the team should suffer through an injury plagued campaign such as last year, then time not spent developing these back-ups could be felt on the field of play.

 

I reiterated that i felt the two places the PACKERS face a personnel challenge this season could be the DL and ILB positions. AFter HAWK & BISHOP I see ROBERT FRANCOIS & D.J. SMITH (R) as the next men up. I see lots to like abut both these young guys, but i am not sure how effective they would be if called upon to play a lot early in the season because of injury to the starters.

Between knucklehead JOLLY and VFA loss JENKINS I am also a bit concerned about the DL rotation. That has become especially true with early injury issues with MIKE NEAL who was slotted to start in place of JENKINS. “next Man Up” is the football rallying cry, but right now HOWARD GREEN, JARIUS WYNN & LAWRENCE GUY don’t look like fill-in candidates that inspire Super Bowl repeat visions in my head.