12

November

Packers News: Bulaga to I.R., So’oto to 53-man roster

Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga

Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga

The Green Bay Packers announced Monday that left tackle Bryan Bulaga had been placed on the season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury.

Bulaga suffered the injury against the Arizona Cardinals when he landed awkwardly. The early diagnosis wasn’t optimistic, and some had speculated immediately that Bulaga’s season may be over.

Losing Bulaga leaves the Packers shorthanded on the offensive line. T.J. Lang will shift over to right tackle, while Evan Dietrich-Smith will take Lang’s normal spot at left guard. For the rest of the season, the Packers’ offensive line–at full strength–will consist of Marshall Newhouse, Dietrich-Smith, Jeff Saturday, Josh Sitton and Lang.

Through ten weeks of the NFL season, the Packers have allowed 29 sacks–tied for second-most in the NFL.

To fill Bulaga’s roster spot, the Packers have signed outside linebacker Vic S’oto. The move gives Packers some depth at outside linebacker, as Frank Zombo was the team’s only available backup prior to So’oto’s signing.

So’oto played in seven games for the Packers last season and was in training camp with the team this summer. After appearing in four games with the Oakland Raiders this season, he was let go. So’oto, again, will wear No. 97 with the team.

——————

Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

——————

28

August

Packers Stock Report: Roster Bubble Edition

Jamari Lattimore

Packers LB Jamari Lattimore is rising.

It’s time to bring back the Packers stock report.

I’m back in my blogging chair after spending three booze-fueled days and nights in Madison, Wis. I gained about 10 pounds and reduced the functionality of my liver by about 7 percent. A typical weekend in Madison.

The only way to get my body back to where it was pre-Madison is to type a couple hundred words about the Packers. For the first Packers stock report of the 2012 season, I’m going to focus on players who entered training camp on the roster bubble. There will be plenty of stock reports dedicated to guys like Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson during the season, but for now, let’s focus on the guys who may or may not make the team.

Rising

Dezman Moses
The buzz about Moses grew louder during OTAs and he’s lived up to that hype during training camp. Perhaps hype is a poor word choice. I don’t think anyone is expecting Moses to come in and be an All-Pro. But he looks like a wild-card type of player, someone that could show flashes of brilliance and deliver production from a roster spot that you originally didn’t think would yield much of anything. Whichever word you want to use, Moses is definitely rising.

Donald Driver
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Wait a minute. I thought you said this stock report was only going to be about players on the roster bubble.” Why yes, I did say that. And Driver was definitely on the bubble before camp. I have no doubts about that. I also have no doubts that Driver has played well enough to secure a spot on the Packers roster. That makes him rising in my book.

Jamari Lattimore
We haven’t heard all that much about Lattimore, but in the film I’ve watched of his preseason, I like what I see out of him in pass coverage. I like D.J. Smith, but I can see him getting overwhelmed in pass coverage. Lattimore gets good depth on his drops and looks fluid when running in coverage down the middle of the field.

Steady

There is no steady category when we’re talking about players that may or may not make the team. You’re either rising (making the team), or falling (on your way out the door).

23

July

Packers Training Camp Battles: Will Anyone Stand Up to Perry at OLB?

Nick Perry

Packers OLB Nick Perry

When the Packers open training camp, we will hear plenty about Nick Perry making the shift from a hand-on-the-ground college defensive end to a stand-up NFL outside linebacker.

No doubt, there will be plenty of adjustments that Perry needs to make as he transitions. But don’t let that fool you, Perry is the player the Packers want to rush the quarterback opposite of Clay Matthews.

There is no need to be overly concerned about Perry not yet being a well-rounded OLB. The Packers should focus most of their efforts on making Perry the best possible pass rusher that he can be. What deficiencies he may have in pass coverage or other areas can be developed over time.

If Perry turns out to be the pass rusher the Packers think he can be, the other aspects of playing OLB will come to him. Meantime, Dom Capers can create sub packages and scheme as necessary to maximize Perry’s talents and mask the undeveloped portions of his game.

After Perry and Matthews, things get interesting at OLB.

Erik Walden
The Packers brought Walden back even though he disappeared down the stretch last season after getting arrested. Most people have written Walden off, but I say not so fast.

There’s a reason the Packers brought him back. If they didn’t think he was any good, they wouldn’t have resigned him. I’m not saying Walden is going to be a breakout player, but don’t immediately dismiss him.

He’s had his moments with the Packers, including three sacks in the 2010 season finale and a two-game stretch before getting arrested last season where he totaled 15 tackles and a sack.

Bringing Walden back was a good decision. If he plays like he did before the arrest, the Packers have a solid depth player. If he looks finished, the Packers can just cut him and move on with their lives.

Dezman Moses
This year’s buzz player, Moses made everybody take notice of him during OTAs. His 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill times at the combine were better than Perry’s, and he was a very productive college player.

Ted Thompson seems to always find an undrafted free agent or two that sticks around. A few even make a major impact (see Sam Shields in 2010).

16

June

Vic So’oto: Just Another Flavor Of The Month?

LB Vic So'oto

Packers LB Vic So'oto intercepts the ball against the Chiefs in the 2011 preseason

Every preseason, it seems like there is one previously unknown player on the Packers roster that stands out.   There is that one player whom fans love to watch and beg the coaches to play during the regular season.

In 2011, that player was linebacker Vic So’oto a rookie from BYU that went undrafted.   At BYU, So’oto was the true definition of a ‘football player’ by playing tight end and defensive end.  It’s not hard to see why So’oto would be so warmly embraced by Packer fans.

He did miss the majority of the 2006 and 2008 seasons due to injury, however, and given the Packers’ infamous luck with injury prone draft picks it is no surprise that So’oto went unselected on draft day last year.

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.  In July, the Packers signed So’oto as an undrafted free agent.  Hoping to land a roster spot, he put on a show in the preseason against the Chiefs starters with 1.5 sacks and an interception before a nagging back injury that hampered him for most of the 2011 regular season.

You know what they say with the NFL fans when it comes to rookie players.  The first impression is always the strongest.

As the Packers pass rush continued to be non-existent, fans began to clamor for So’oto.  The lofty expectations placed on him by fans made you think he was another Clay Matthews.

The chance never came.  However, entering the 2012 offseason healthy and with the Packers desperately seeking a pass rush it seemed that So’oto would finally get his chance to shine in OTAs and mini-camp.

Then Ted Thompson went and drafted USC linebacker/defensive end Nick Perry in the first round and proceeded to load up on defenders in the 2012 NFL Draft.

This clouds the picture for So’oto going into training camp and arguably could doom his career prospects in Green Bay.  It’s a near certainty Perry will line up opposite of Matthews in a decent chunk of defensive formations, so where does that leave So’oto.

30

January

Vic So’oto: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers outside linebacker Vic So'oto

Vic So'oto

1) Introduction: My, what lofty expectations some fans placed on Vic So’oto for the 2011 season.  Coming to the Packers offseason as an undrafted rookie free agent from BYU, So’oto was a converted 4-3 DE who exploded onto the scene during the last preseason game against the Kansas City with 1.5 sacks and an interception against starters who were constantly double teaming him.  During the regular season his star faded considerably since he was oft injured and not fast enough for special teams, So’oto was often deactivated in favor of fellow undrafted free agent rookie Jamari Lattimore

2) Profile:

Vic So’oto

Position: OLB
Height: 6-3
Weight: 263 lbs.
AGE: 24
Career Stats

 

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Low; as a undrafted rookie free agent not much was expected from So’oto, though the Kansas City preseason game showed a glimpse of So’oto potential.  So’oto figured to see some time in obvious pass rushing situations due to his inexperience in pass defense and see a lot of time on special teams.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlights in So’oto’s short career would be the entire Kansas City game where he looked like the second coming of Clay Matthews III.  The lowlights would unfortunately be the entire regular season, where So’oto was often inactive due to a persistent back injury and a lack of talent on special teams

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Next to nothing; So’oto did not start a game and So’oto’s only statistics were one sack against Detroit in week 17 in mop up duty and 7 tackles during the season

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Not applicable; So’oto was a healthy scratch and inactive during the Giants game in the playoffs

Season Report Card:

(D) Level of expectations met during the season
(F) Contributions to team’s overall success
(N/A) Contributions to team during playoffs

Overall Grade for the year: D-

——————

Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

——————

2

January

Packers vs. Lions: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 45-41 Win over Detroit

Packers QB Matt Flynn broke several franchise records Sunday. (Photo: Tom Lynn, JSOnline)

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns in relief of a deactivated Aaron Rodgers Sunday, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 45-41 shootout win over the Detroit Lions in Week 17 at Lambeau Field.

Here are five observations from the Packers’ win:

1. Cha-Ching 

In throwing for a Packers’ record in both passing yards (480) and touchdowns (six), Matt Flynn vaulted himself to the top of the 2012 free agent quarterback class. He’ll become a rich man sometime this summer, as there will likely be at least one quarterback-needy team that pays big money to Flynn despite only two NFL starts.

Any chance of the Packers trying to re-sign as a backup him went out the window Sunday. He’s ready to start, and that’s not happening in Green Bay. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers approach the impending situation this offseason, however. They could choose to let Flynn walk and simply net the compensatory pick in next year’s draft. Or, they could franchise tag him and then pursue a trade, which gives them control over the compensation and location. I don’t think any team in the division is a threat to sign Flynn, but the Packers’ decision regarding their backup quarterback is definitely something to watch after this season.

2. More than a steal

You would be hard-pressed to find a receiver that had a better calendar year than Jordy Nelson. His stunning run started in Super Bowl XLV and has been followed by a breakout 2011 season. On the first day of 2012, Nelson finished his career year with another career game. Nelson caught nine passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, pushing his season totals to 68 for 1,263 and 15. Nelson’s 15 receiving touchdowns is third in Packers history to only 18 from Sterling Sharpe in 1994 and 17 from Don Hutson in 1942.

But possibly the most encouraging part of Nelson’s day was the fact that he did it without Greg Jennings, who missed his third game with a sprained knee. Any concerns about Nelson’s capability of handling the lead role were calmed. He’s a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver. Can you believe the Packers re-upped Nelson for four years and just $14 million? What a steal that deal looks like now.

31

December

Packers vs. Lions Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Packers QB Matt Flynn has a perfect stage in Week 17 for his looming free agent status.

The Green Bay Packers (14-1) and Detroit Lions (10-5) face off in Week 17 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 12:00 CST, Sunday, January 1, 2012.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: FOX; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick with the call, Laura Okmin on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Packers lead, 92-65-7 (Packers won last regular season game, 27-17, on Nov. 24, 2011 at Ford Field.)

Five things to watch

1. Money to be made

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he wants all three quarterbacks to play on Sunday, but the middle man in the group has a golden opportunity to bump up his price tag this summer. Matt Flynn, the Packers backup quarterback and a free agent after the season, will likely see the majority of the snaps against the Lions. Another solid performance on the big stage may propel a quarterback-needy team to give Flynn the opportunity to start for their franchise—and the money that goes with it—next season.

2. Who needs receivers?

The Packers offense may be one of the most receiver-dependent outfits in the NFL, but they’ll be down two at that position on Sunday. Both Greg Jennings (knee) and Randall Cobb (groin) were ruled out this week by McCarthy. Their absence should mean an increase in snaps for the Packers’ four tight ends, and more specifically, rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor.  Expect the two first-year players to log career highs in snaps and receptions on Sunday.

3. Clifton’s return

Packers left tackle Chad Clifton has played in some big games during his career, but Sunday’s tilt with the Lions might rank near the top. While the game alone has little overall meaning, how Clifton performs may influence whether or not he can play again in the NFL. The Packers get one chance to see him live before the playoffs begin, and if they don’t like what they see from him, McCarthy may have to go with with Marshall Newhouse as his starting left tackle in the postseason. It wouldn’t be overly surprising if Clifton wasn’t the same guy he was before the torn hamstring, as he’s 35 years old and in his 12th season in the NFL. A dud of a performance or set back with the injury could signal the end of Clifton’s NFL career.