23

October

If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley's injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley’s injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Three years ago in 2010, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a rookie Andrew Quarless as their starting tight end.

That year, Jermichael Finley suffered a knee injury in week six against Washington and was forced to miss the remainder of the season; Quarless stepped in and the role of the Packers’ tight end shrunk within the offense. Prior to going down, Finley was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards–an average of five catches and 75 yards per game.

After Finley was lost for the season, Quarless caught two or fewer passes in 14 of the team’s remaining 16 games, including playoffs.

Fast forward to October 2013, and Finley, again, faces an uncertain future after suffering a bruised spinal cord Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Finley is out of intensive care and walking on his own, but he’ll undergo more tests before a decision is made on his future for this season and beyond.

According to sources via ESPN, there is “no specific timetable for Finley’s return to the field, but indications are that he likely will miss at least four to six weeks.” Ed Werder tweeted Tuesday that Finley’s injury was not believed to be career-threatening, although the Packers could consider placing him on the injured reserve sometime later this week.

Clearly, at this point, no decision has been made on Finley’s availability this season.

The most optimistic will point to 2010 and suggest that plugging Quarless into the lineup for Finley will be enough. But as things currently stand, the Packers’ group of wide receivers is certainly not as strong as it was in 2010.

Then, the Packers made up for losing Finley by featuring Greg Jennings as the No. 1 target, while Jordy Nelson was exceptional in the stretch run and into the playoffs. James Jones and Donald Driver held their own as the third and fourth options.

Right now, the Packers will likely head into their matchup in Minnesota with Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting receivers. At tight end, it’ll be Quarless along with a combination of Brandon Bostick and others. Myles White will likely be the No. 3 receiver, like he was last week against Cleveland.

15

October

Packers News: Team signs TE Stoneburner to active roster

The Packers have promoted tight end Jake Stoneburner to the active roster.

The Packers have promoted tight end Jake Stoneburner to the active roster.

According to Jason La Canfora’s official Twitter account, the Green Bay Packers have signed tight end Jake Stoneburner to the active roster following their recent rash of injuries.

Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Packers lost wide receiver Randall Cobb for six-to-eight weeks with a fractured fibula. Fellow wide receiver James Jones suffered a sprained MCL and appears questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Stoneburner’s promotion to the 53-man roster gives the Packers five tight ends and three wide receivers, including Jones.

An athletic rookie tight end from Ohio State, Stoneburner was often split out wide in Urban Meyer’s offense. He clocked a 4.53 forty-yard dash at Ohio State’s Pro Day Mar. 8, which would suggest an ability to stretch the field; however, Stoneburner only caught 53 passes in his four-year collegiate career.

In his junior season in 2011, seven of Stoneburner’s were for touchdowns.

Without Cobb in the slot, starting tight end Jermichael Finley will likely be split out more often than usual with Andrew Quarless filling Finley’s shoes as an in-line blocker. Finley, at 6’5″ 250 pounds, isn’t capable of taking on all of Cobb’s responsibilities in the Packers’ offense, but at this point, he may be the team’s best option to stretch the field from the slot.

Last week, the Browns signed wide receiver Charles Johnson off the Packers’ practice squad, leaving Myles White and the recently re-signed Reggie Dunn as the team’s two wide receivers on the practice squad.

As of right now, the Packers have not announced the necessary roster move to promote Stoneburner, but one would figure that Cobb is a logical candidate for the I.R./Designated to Return list.

The Packers reportedly tried to sign wide receiver Tavarres King off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad, but King has since been promoted to Denver’s active roster. More moves could be on the horizon for the Packers, but for now, it looks like they’ll go heavy at tight end and light at wide receiver for the near future.

2

September

NostraMarques: Statistical predictions for Packers offense

Channeling Randall Cobb himself, it's time to put my nerd glasses on and get statistical.

Channeling Randall Cobb himself, it’s time to put my nerd glasses on and get statistical.

The preseason is officially over. So the next time the Green Bay Packers take the field, the games will actually matter.

On offense, the Packers figure to have one of the most feared attacks in football. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, Aaron Rodgers has been fortunate to play with one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL. And now, he may be playing alongside the best running back of his six-year starting career in rookie Eddie Lacy.

There are plenty of concerns along the offensive line, but if Rodgers stays upright, it’s going to be another great year for Green Bay’s offense.

Rodgers said that Randall Cobb has the potential to be a 100-catch guy for the Packers, but with so many capable weapons on the same offense, it may be tough for him to reach triple digits. However, with Greg Jennings now playing for the Vikings, Cobb will enter the season as the odds-on favorite to lead the team in targets. So by that logic, 100 catches could certainly happen.

Adam Czech recently posted his own Vegas-style over/unders for the Packers’ upcoming season. Between that and our annual staff 53-man roster predictions, it’s clearly crystal ball time at ALLGBP.com.

In the comments section, chime in and say whether you think the player will outproduce my prediction (over) or if they’ll fall short (under) of my fearless forecast.

All statistical projections are based on each player playing a full 16-game season. And it’s much more interesting to project Rodgers to throw for 4,316 yards instead of 4,300. So, that explains that.

Rodgers: 4,316 passing yards, 38 TD 6 INT. 280 rushing yards, 3 TD.

With what should be an improved running game, I think this could be Rodgers’ most efficient season to date. But from a statistical standpoint in terms of yards and touchdowns, it’s hard to see Rodgers ever topping his MVP season in 2011 in which he threw for over 4,600 yards and 45 touchdowns in just 15 games. He may not contend for league MVP this season if he puts up numbers similar to these, but let’s be honest, 4,300 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions isn’t too shabby. It’s crazy that those numbers don’t stand out, but that’s the standard he’s set. As long as the offensive line can keep him upright, Rodgers is going to have another really, really good season. And if Eddie Lacy is everything the Packers hope he is, the offense is going to be really, really good, too.

22

August

Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley and the Play-Action pass

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Despite not punching the ball into the endzone, the Packers’ (kinda) first-team offense passed the eye test Saturday night against the St. Louis Rams.

Eddie Lacy continually punished defenders with his smash-mouth, bulldozer-like running style. Jermichael Finley was running free in the Rams’ secondary, four times catching wide-open passes from Aaron Rodgers.

On 18 snaps against the Rams on Saturday, Finley managed to catch four passes for 78 yards. Last season, Finley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 61, but his 78 yards Saturday night would have been his highest single-game total in 2012.

And with Lacy providing the Packers with a newfound physical ground game, totaling Finley’s job may be a little easier in 2013.

The former Alabama running back racked up 40 yards on eight carries despite subpar offensive line play, as outlined earlier this week by Jersey Al. And although it was Lacy’s first game appearance in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that the Rams already respected the 22-year-old bruiser.

Let’s take another look at Lacy’s two best runs of the night.

1st Quarter 14:31 remaining

In a two-tight formation, Lacy gets the handoff as the single back. The line is sliding to the right, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith doesn’t quite have the quickness to cross his man’s face.

But instead of being stopped for negative yards, Lacy uses his well-documented spin move to get upfield. It was only a seven-yard gain, but a runner creating something out of nothing hasn’t been a common occurrence in Green Bay as of late.

1st Quarter 13:23 remaining

Again, Evan Dietrich-Smith is beaten off the line, but Lacy’s power bails him out.

After breaking out of the defensive tackle’s tackle, Lacy sheds another arm tackle from rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 15-yard gain was Lacy’s longest of the night. It was at this point that Packers fans were all like, “Wow.”

On two of Finley’s four catches, Rodgers began the play with a fake handoff to Lacy. Let’s take a look at those two plays.

1st Quarter 14:01 remaining

Finley is lined up in the slot, Lacy is the deep back and the Rams are in zone coverage. Finley has a cornerback lined up across from him, but he’s released into the middle of the field upon his break.

16

May

Five potential breakout players for 2013: Who will it be?

Packers CB Davon House

Packers CB Davon House

Every NFL season begins with a blank slate and ends with a long list of newly-minted star players.

Last season, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick may be the prime example of a player that took the next step and pushed his team to the next level, as San Francisco won the NFC and advanced to Super Bowl XLVII.

Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas went from being an afterthought in a Tim Tebow-led offense in 2011 to being one of the most dangerous offensive players in football in 2012. Thomas ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,434 receiving yards.

And in Green Bay, a pair of Packers wideouts enjoyed breakout years of their own.

After showing flashes of brilliance as a rookie in 2011, Randall Cobb exploded onto the scene last season, leading the team with 80 catches and 954 receiving yards. Cobb is the odds-on favorite to lead the team in both categories in 2013.

Fellow receiver James Jones enjoyed a breakout season of his own. Jones set career highs in all three major categories, catching 64 passes for 784 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Playing in an offense with Aaron Rodgers under center, any receiver could become the team’s “go-to guy” on a week-to-week basis. But Jordy Nelson had his coming-out party in 2011, and Jones and Cobb had their last year. So unless one of the Packers young, unproven receivers can take a step forward and join the rotation, this year’s breakout player may be on the defensive side of the ball.

Let’s take a look at five potential breakout candidates for the 2013 season. Feel free to comment and let me know who you think will be the team’s breakout player this season, even if they’re not on the list.

(NOTE: Rookies will not be included on this list. It’s tough to forecast a rookie having a breakout year when he has yet to play a single down at the NFL level. That means Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Datone Jones are not listed.)

1. FS Morgan Burnett

It took Nick Collins until his fourth season to reach his potential. Morgan Burnett may not be Collins, but there are some distinct similarities between the two. And through their first three NFL seasons, Burnett trumps Collins in most statistical categories.

22

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Zach Sudfeld, TE Nevada

Nevada TE Zach Sudfeld

Nevada TE Zach Sudfeld

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: TE Zach Sudfeld

Player Information:

Zach Sudfeld, TE Nevada
6-7, 253 pounds
Hometown: Modesto, Cal.

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.78
225-pound bench: 11 reps
20-yard shuttle: 4.41
Broad jump: 9′ 5″
Vertical jump: 37″

News and Notes:

One-year starter who caught 45 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns as a sixth-year senior … Redshirted as a true freshman at Nevada, before sitting out his redshirt freshman season with an injury … Played in every game in 2010 behind current Denver Broncos backup tight end Virgil Green … Started the 2011 season opener before suffering a broken leg which ended his season … Received a medical redshirt for the 2012 season … Wasn’t invited to the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine after being one of eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award in 2012.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “Excellent size/strength combo for the position. At 6-7 and 255 pounds, he is a large target, shows natural receiving skills and the ability to watch the ball into his hands. shows his athleticism once he gets going, accelerating in-and-out of his breaks and creating some separation from linebackers or safeties.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Big. Excellent blocker.
  • Not a “burner” but smooth in and out of his breaks. He’s a former basketball player, and he plays like it.
  • Natural catching the football.
  • Effective as a downfield blocker as well, going low to take defenders out of the play.
  • For a guy his size, he’s a fluid athlete.
  • Has a natural feel for getting open and finding the soft spots in zone coverage.

If drafted by the Packers:

After losing tight end Tom Crabtree to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Packers could be in the market for a late-round replacement. And in the sixth or seventh round, Zach Sudfeld makes a lot of sense.

It makes no sense whatsoever why Sudfeld wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Sure, he had plenty of injury problems during his time at Nevada, but there are not 19 tight ends in this draft that are better than Sudfeld. You can write that in ink.

12

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Demetrius Harris, TE Milwaukee

Demetrius Harris

Demetrius Harris

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: TE Demetrius Harris

Player Information:

Demetrius Harris, TE UW-Milwaukee
6-7, 240 pounds
Hometown: Jacksonville, AR.

STATS (Basketball)

NFL Combine:

Did not work out at the Combine.
*40 time: 4.45
*Vertical: 37″
*According to CBSSports.com

News and Notes:

Harris looks to be another college basketball player-turned-NFL tight end … Originally signed to play football at Arkansas State out of high school but didn’t meet the academic requirements … After spending time at a community college, Harris decided to focus on basketball before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee … Harris averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a senior … He’s spending time at St. Vincent Sports Performance working out with Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark … Harris has a pro day set up in Milwaukee on April 20.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “As the draft approaches, there is a growing buzz among scouts about Demetrius Harris, who played college basketball at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and whose freakish workouts are generating a following. Harris hasn’t played football since high school, but at 6-foot-7, 241 pounds (he projects to play at around 250), he runs in the 4.45-second range in the 40 and has a 37-inch vertical leap.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • With no on-field video of Harris, it’s impossible to evaluate him on anything besides athletic ability.
  • He’s clearly a fluid athlete; long, fast, quick and agile.
  • Showed good hands, which he apparently showed during his workout with the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Forgiving pass target. Dude is 6’7″ with long arms.
  • Again, it’s hard to judge him as a football player. But he’s certainly an impressive athlete that would merit a look as an undrafted free agent.

If drafted by the Packers:

An interesting prospect with in-state ties, Demetrius Harris could be an intriguing player for the Packers at the conclusion of this year’s draft. Jason La Canfora just wrote a piece over at CBS Sports suggesting Harris has a chance to make it in the NFL.

The absolute earliest he’d be drafted is late in the seventh round. More than likely, he’ll go undrafted before signing with a team to compete for a roster spot in training camp. If that team is the Packers, he would compete with the likes of Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor, D.J. Williams and Brandon Bostick behind starter Jermichael Finley. Coming to Green Bay would provide an interesting situation for Harris, as Finley is a former basketball player himself.