Monday, August 03, 2015

The First Week of Packers Training Camp Is In The Books

Though the Green Bay Packers started training camp last week, I haven't been too interested in who's playing in the first few practices of the season. It'll be the preseason games that really matter. But early season injuries are a big deal and several players were held out of practice to start the second week.
Only four names really need to be discussed.

LB Clay Matthews had been practicing but he was held out for the first practice this week due to "knee soreness" and I don't think it's a big deal. Matthews said he's "just taking care of my body" and they probably don't want him to overdue it. Plus it's more practice time inside for LB Nate Palmer, who's coming off a lost 2014 season due to injury and changing positions.

WR Jared Abbrederis. I thought he would need a strong 2015 camp to bounce back from a lost 2014 season (knee injury) and that hasn't worked out for him so far. I'm a little worried about this concussion, he insisted that he's only had one concussion in college, but that could potentially be more of a problem than a bad knee. There is a lot of competition at receiver but he still has the preseason games to prove his worth.

LB Mike Neal. He's coming off a terrible 2014 season, and it's not clear when he'll be returning from offseason hernia surgery. They have some depth outside at linebacker in the meantime.

CB Quinten Rollins. Their 2nd round pick was held out for the first week with a hamstring injury. His absence gave more screen time to undrafted rookie CB LaDarius Gunter and he looks like a keeper, which isn't a problem since they have to replace the three cornerbacks they lost in free agency. Also, the news that CB Casey Hayward had foot surgery this offseason gives me some concern about his long-term future, which potentially makes Rollins even more important.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another Week, Another Suspension: Letroy Guion For Three Games

Unless you think DT Letroy Guion is the glue that holds the Green Bay Packers's defense together, losing him to suspension for 3 games to start the season isn't a big deal. The Packers will probably keep someone who otherwise wouldn't have made the cut, like second year DT Bruce Gaston or undrafted rookie free agent DT Lavon Hooks, on the 53-man roster while Guion is suspended. Then they'll probably release Gaston or Hooks, and hope to re-sign them to the practice squad. Guion is also planning to appeal, and it seems like these suspensions are usually reduced on an appeal, so he probably won't even miss 3 games.

Though the 3 game suspension might be justified:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Packer Jarrett Bush Suspended 4 Games For PED

Most of the Green Bay Packer news over the past week has been about Brett Favre's induction ceremony scheduled this upcoming Saturday, but one former Packer/current free agent made some news of his own:
It's amazing that Jarrett Bush has remained with the Packers for so many seasons, and it does look like his time with them is finally up, though Mike McCarthy has left the door partially opened. But this suspension isn't the last straw. I think LB Mike Neal was the last player to have a four game PED suspension, but he was welcomed back in 2012 and even re-signed with them last year.

Jarrett Bush has just as much (or just as little) shot of returning next season with or without his recent suspension being a factor.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Packers Won't Release Andrew Quarless After Arrest

Rob Demovsky's sources say that the Green Bay Packers won't release TE Andrew Quarless after he allegedly fired a gun then tried to hide it in a potted plant while he was in Miami Beach on July 4. He's a useful football player (though they'd get along fine without him) so this could be seen as a football move since it's too late in the offseason to sign or draft his replacement. However, he does seem to be well liked, Aaron Rodgers complimented him in a recent interview, and one former teammate believes in him too.
He does get himself in trouble, but people like him and they're willing to give him a second chance, such as the one he got at Penn State after an alcohol-related offense:
On that particular day, Paterno was in no mood to show mercy, according to Quarless, who ended the five-minute chat with a promise. "He was ready to let me go. I just told him, 'Coach, I'll show you,'" Quarless said this week at the Packers' team hotel. "That was my message I left him, because he really didn't want to hear too much." 
He ended up playing in 47 career college games and finishing as Penn State's leading tight-end receiver in their history.

It was a reckless act on his part, and it's an embarrassment for everyone involved. He's likely to be suspended by the NFL for his actions, in addition to his ongoing legal problems. But he's apparently a good person; both his college and his professional teams are willing to give him a second chance.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Andrew Quarless Has Put The Packers In A Tough Spot

Dealing with player arrests is not something new for GM Ted Thompson, but I can't recall another time when two players made news in the same week. First it was a DE Datone Jones, who received a one game suspension relating to an arrest for marijuana possession back in January. Now it's TE Andrew Quarless, who was arrested for firing a gun in public and allegedly trying to hide it in a potted plant. A possible suspension for DT Letroy Guion was also discussed last week, but the Packers knew all about his arrest, which happened before he was re-signed, so that's not a new situation. Jones doesn't seem to be in too much trouble, though he's likely on thinner ice within the organization now, but Quarless might have put the Packers in a tough spot if they consider releasing him.
Quarless is a bit of a football survivor. He was nearly dismissed from Penn State after two alcohol related offenses though he managed to stay with his college team. But I have no idea what the Packers are going to do about him.

If the Packers do release him, then they've got a roster problem on their hands. Quarless is nothing special, even if QB Aaron Rodgers is a fan, but there's little depth on the roster behind him. TE Brandon Bostick was dumped after his mistake in the NFC Championship game, leaving only Quarless and TE Richard Rodgers as the only tight ends who played last season. Now they might be down to just Rodgers, who showed a lot of improvement last season, but he can't be their only player at the position. Here are their other options:

Second year TE Justin Perillo is an interesting player but I wasn't counting on him for anything more than special teams next season. He could be one of the most closely watched players this preseason.

Rookie 6th round TE Kennard Backman. He's a basketball player/tight end, which is a popular skill set in the NFL at the moment, and he might be underrated because he's coming from the chaos that is/was the UAB football program. He's probably got good hands, but everything else about him is a mystery.

Two undrafted rookie tight ends. You never know, but they have to be candidates for the practice squad, at best.

So basically there's no experience other than Richard Rodgers. Throwing Perillo and/or Backman into a significant role with the offense next season might be possible, and it worked OK with Richard Rodgers last season. The Packers might become very interested in tight ends on other teams that will be released during the preseason.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Packers Minicamp This Week: Kuuuuuuuuhn!

This is the week for the Green Bay Packers minicamp, and it marks the last bit of real Packer news until training camp begins in late July. It'll be marked with some humongous quotes about receivers and how some players live in the gym. The Packers official twitter feed had the following picture of one of the all-time fan favorites who is entering the twilight of his Packer career:
I was a little surprised when the Packers re-signed FB John Kuhn this offseason. He's coming off a Pro Bowl nod because there are very few true full backs playing in today's NFL but the Packers have been decreasing his usage over the past three seasons. The following number of snaps and run blocking rating over the past five seasons is from Pro Football Focus:
Year Snaps Run Blocking
2014 249 5.2
2013 337 5.8
2012 437 -2.4
2011 432 -7.7
2010 420 0.2
My nutshell description of Kuhn is that he's a player who doesn't make mistakes, he can occasionally make a big play (maybe a few per season), and he's not a very good run blocker. I should also add that he's very reliable because he's only missed a few games due to injury since 2008.

But there's been also been a big change in his usage over the past two seasons which can be summed up as thus: Eddie Lacy. Since Lacy's arrival in 2013, the Packers have been using Kuhn less and all of sudden his run blocking rating has shot up. I don't think he's really gotten that much better as a run blocker; it's more about how Lacy's such a powerful runner that he makes his blockers look good.

At age 32, the only older player on the roster is LB Julius Peppers. GM Ted Thompson has preferred a roster full of young players for almost his entire tenure, so Kuhn has to be approaching the end of the line. He'll be playing on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract in 2015 with zero salary cap hit if he was released tomorrow. He wouldn't have been re-signed if he wasn't expected to fill the same role in 2015 as he had in 2014 (blocking, occasional short-yardage carry). But at the same time, this could very well be his last season in Green Bay so enjoy chanting Kuuuuuuhn while you can.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Another Week Of OTA Practice For The Packers

I don't put much stock in the summer OTAs. It does show the current depth chart, but things change quickly once training camp opens and preseason games are played.
Their two most recent 4th round picks (LB Carl Bradford and LB Jake Ryan) are settling in as the backup inside linebackers. Since this is the defensive position that needs the most improvement in 2015, I'm interested on how it's going and if either one of them is ready to be a breakout starter. Though Ryan's a rookie and he hasn't so much as stepped on a field for an NFL game of any sort, in someways Bradford's an even bigger unknown since he didn't play a single snap on defense in his rookie year. Did Bradford need to essentially take a redshirt year to learn how to play on the inside or was the move done to delay his eventual release?

Neither one of them probably has a shot at moving ahead of LB Sam Barrington (or allowing them to move LB Clay Matthews outside full-time) for now, so they're just two guys to watch for the future.

They have several more days of OTAs this week and next before the mandatory mini-camp in two weeks. Though that minicamp will probably be shortened by a day for some team building through bowling or the like.