On the Packers schedule today, it's day four of the Green Bay Packers Youth Camps in Glendale/Whitefish Bay and Kenosha. Among the former players helping out is running back Larry Krause ...
NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith was interviewed on Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio and suggested there may be collusion among teams not signing high round draft choices. This relates to the Packers who still don't have either of their first two picks, offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga and defensive lineman Mike Neal, signed to contracts yet. Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country, a Jacksonville Jaguars blog doesn't appear to think there's evidence of any collusion. "First round picks are generally signed last minute," writes Crow. "In 2009, only two first round picks were signed by 07/21/09. The first 1st round draft pick to sign was Matthew Stafford, who was signed before the draft even occurred. The other, Mark Sanchez, was signed mid-June. In 2008 offensive tackle and first overall pick Jake Long signed in April, before the actual draft occurred. After Long, Matt Ryan and Darren McFadden signed contracts. In 2007 the earliest pick to sign was the 31st overall selection, tight end Greg Olson on July 3rd." On the contrary, I wouldn't doubt that agents are every bit as much to blame as the teams as to why high round draft choices aren't yet signed, waiting to get the best deal possible.
Despite calls for the Packers linebacker and secondary units being called among the best in the league, Michael Rodney of Packer Update attempts to be the voice of reason. "As is the case with the defensive backs, the linebackers do have a chance to be among the very best in the league by season’s end, but just like the players who line up behind them, they’re not there yet," writes Rodney. "To be mentioned with the Steelers, Cowboys, Ravens and Jets, Matthews must continue to make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks, Jones must go from a very good story to a very good player, Barnett must return to his 2008 form – a season in which he was arguably the second-best inside linebacker in the NFC – and Hawk must make more impact plays." Agreed. The linebackers have a lot to prove individually to be considered among the league's best. But they do have a certain intangible quality as a group that makes them effective, that's for sure.
The player-by-player ranking of every Green Bay Packer on the roster continues by Bill Huber of Packer Report. Coming in at No. 26 is this year's second-round draft choice, Mike Neal. "With Jolly’s suspension (and assuming Justin Harrell doesn’t start playing like a first-round pick), there will be no easing-in process for Neal," writes Huber. "The much-debated second-round pick figures to be the primary backup to both of the starting defensive ends, Ryan Pickett and Cullen Jenkins. He also will be used frequently in the nickel packages to provide an interior pass rush. That’s a lot on his plate, but he was productive at Purdue with back-to-back seasons of 5.5 sacks and has one of the best position coaches in the business in Mike Trgovac. He’ll need to play well to keep the starters fresh over the long haul." It's difficult to project rookies given their unproven nature. It's only fair to give the benefit of the doubt to Neal at this spot in the pecking order.
Does general manager Ted Thompson draft players with a template in mind? This question is pondered by C.D. Angeli at Tundra Vision who analyzes, among other items, the function of the tight end in an offense. "Thompson's prototype isn't necessarily the traditional prototype, where you have tight ends that are adept in both receiving and blocking, with perhaps blocking being the primary function and the receiving being the 'bonus' contribution to the team," writes Angeli. "Or, your tight end tandem compliments one another: kind of like [Mark] Chmura and [Keith] Jackson back in the day. Whereas Chmura became the solid blocker and middle of the field possession receiver, Jackson was the touchdown maker." I do find it odd that the Packers may have two tight ends that nearly fit the wide receiver mold. But maybe the reason they're so big on the fullback position is so they can use those types of players whenever they need blocking help.
Some potential pitfalls for the 2010 Packers are considered by Chris Lempesis of Ol' Bag of Donuts. He says, among several items, that the Packers can't afford a special teams unit like last season. "In short, the group did nothing right," writes Lempesis. "That can not happen again, especially when you factor in what appears to be a much tougher 2010 schedule. Two players, in particular, have got to be better: Mason Crosby and whomever wins the punter battle." I don't think that's going out on a limb.
The possibility that undrafted rookie running back Quinn Porter makes the team isn't out of the question according to "Jersey" Al Bracco. "I feel the Packers are looking at better and more options at running back, and will thusly be more inclined to keep four running backs and two fullbacks," writes Bracco. "That scenario obviously gives Porter a real chance, especially if he can successfully migrate his kickoff return skills from Division II to the NFL level." Porter figures to be a long shot to make the team, but he'll have an outside chance if he can contribute as a return specialist. He'll have to make a very, very big impact, however, to convince he Packers to keep him.
Our article here at Cheesehead TV taking a look at the possible best and worst case scenarios for the 2010 season amongst the running backs is very similar to Bracco's article. The argument against Porter is as follows: "Being the second- or third-string kick returner isn’t enough to warrant a roster spot let alone a job on the practice squad. Porter isn’t any better than guys like Will Blackmon, Sam Shield, Jordy Nelson, James Starks, or pretty much anyone on kick returns. His impact at running back is nil, and he doesn’t make it beyond the first round of roster cuts." It will be imperative for Porter to take advantage of what's sure to be limited opportunities in the preseason.
Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post provides the odds to win the NFL regular season MVP award and quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes the list at +1500, which Fortenbaugh thinks is the best bet among all wagers.
Some of the biggest concerns heading into training camp are looked at Acme Packing Company. Justin Harrell makes the cut. "The defensive line will have to step it up this year if we want to beat the Vikings, or win our divison, or win the NFC or SuperBowl or whatever," according to the blog post. "The point is it all starts at camp and Justin Harrell needs to be getting as many reps as he can get in to get in shape to stay healthy and contribute." Yup, I pretty much said the same thing a week ago or so.
A few of the training camp battles are looked into by Donovan Lanham of Bleacher Report. The fight between Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga for the starting right outside linebacker spot is included. "[General manager Ted] Thompson is putting his worth into Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones to man the other OLB spot opposite Matthews," writes Lanham. "Poppinga started a few games last year, but has been unable to produce less of a pass rush than Jones, and less production overall, seeing increased time on special teams as a result."
The quarterback and tight end positions are scrutinized by Bill Huber of Packer Report. "We continue our two-positions-a-day training camp preview with arguably the best positions on the team," writes Huber (subscription required). "We tell you what's right and wrong at quarterback and tight end, and use our 20-20 general manager's goggles to find better (and worse) options."
Apart from JaMarcus Russell, Monty McMahon of Total Packers considers Justin Harrell to be among a group of players duking it out for the 2007 draft's second-biggest bust. "Harrell is one of nine of the 32 players chosen in the first round of the 2007 draft who have been out-and-out flops," writes McMahon. Go to the website to check out the list and determine for yourself.
Tune into Cheesehead Radio this evening as I'll be the guest to talk about training camp, the brand spankin' new Maple Street Press Packers Annual and anything else the hosts desire. The show airs live from 8 to 9 p.m. Lambeau time on Blog Talk Radio.
John Rehor of Green Bay Packer Nation considers the Packers/Bears rivalry and how well the Bears are going to do this season.
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