Monday, June 23, 2003

The Packers ears perked up when the Tennessee Titans released middle linebacker Randall Godfrey. If somebody wants to write a book about salary cap jail, then it might be good to look at the Titans as Exhibit A. The Titans haven't had a well known cap purge like the Baltimore Ravens, but the Titans have been mortgaging their future for a few years now. The last couple of seasons the Titans kept making cap room by extending contracts, however, I read that they had finally decided to stop that practice because its unlikely that Steve McNair and others will be playing in 2015 or whenever their contracts had been extended out to. Unfortunately they are trying to keep an AFC Championship Game team together and create cap room in ways other than extending contracts out into future years. Godfrey had already reduced his cap figure in 2003 back in February but the Titans still need to sign their starting center (Gennaro DiNapoli) and punter (Craig Hentrich) and all their draft choices so they apparently felt that cutting Godfrey was the least painful way of making it happen. I just wrote out this long winded explaination to explain why and how a quality linebacker like Godfrey could possibly become available this close to the start of the season. The Titans players are in open revolt over his release as proof that he is a quality person to have on a team. And he is a quality football player; not Ray Lewis good but pro-bowl worthy. Although he does have some blemishes; he is on the wrong side of 30, he has had problems staying healthy the last couple of seasons, and he used to be a Cowboy. As long as his signing would not put the Packers in future salary cap jail, his signing would answer the Packers question on defense and give the Packers a lot of talent and confidence in its defense for the start of the season.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

On June 18th,'s Len Pasquarelli had another of his usual excellent columns published, this time on the mediocre NFC North's linebackers. Outside of Brian Urlacher there isn't another linebacker on any NFC North team that is a star. Much of the column was devoted to Nick Barnett and it mentioned how he was a strong safety in his first year at Oregon State. I can't think of many players who made the jump from strong safety to middle linebacker but I know Brian Urlacher is one player who did it. Barnett probably isn't the next Urlacher, but that is good company to keep. I don't know if the fact that Barnett apparently grew a bit from his first to second year in college is relevant but it interested me. Len Pasquarelli also wrote about the concern that Tauscher and Clifton aren't yet back from last year's injuries and he is absolutely right and about the Walker/Ferguson competition for the starting Wide Receiver spot and I still think Walker will win it.

Friday, June 13, 2003

I cringed when I read the Packers signed Akili Smith today. That was my first reaction and I don't have a good explaination for it. At least he was cheap, only $15,000 to sign instead of the $10 million the Bungles paid to sign him after they drafted him. I see him as a distraction and someone who can't help the team next year. He might be a quarterback for the future, but that future might not be as a Packer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

It was good to read the Mark Tauscher is proceeding without any setbacks from his rehab.

I am still not quite sure what the Packers are doing with Lamar Smith in camp. Najah Davenport and Tony Parker seemed to be capable NFL backups based on last year. My best guess is that Smith is hanging around for the inevitable Davenport injury.

I have read some speculation that the Packers might sign Akili Smith. I am hoping they don't sign him. Watching clips of Akili Smith last year it looked to me like Smith has bad mechanics and has probably regressed since his college days under the Bungles tutilage. The Packers already have two project QBs in Eric Crouch and Craig Nall. They could sign Smith and cut Crouch but both guys seem like massive projects at this point and it is just a crap shoot if either guy could actually start in the NFL someday. I would pick Crouch over Smith at this point since Crouch has been around for two mini-camps already and Crouch might be the Packers punt returner.
I read on-line as much as I could find about the Packers mini-camp last week and I liked what I didn't read; no injuries and no big stories. Any injuries or big stories involving competition or controversy at any position tells me that the Packers offseason planning didn't work out. There were a lot of stories about guys who need to prove themselves or who are determined to do better this year like Eric Crouch, Torrence Marshall, Robert Ferguson, Antoine Edwards, David Martin and Buewoh Jue. If any of those players can contribute as a starter or as a valuable backup/special teamer it is just a bonus. Ferguson might be expected to start but I was really impressed with Javon Walker in the playoff loss and I am thinking he will be the starter opposite Donald Driver. The Packers are auditioning a bunch of guys for kickoff and punt returns but every NFL team neglected special teams in one way or another this offseason so I don't think that puts the Packers at a disadvantage.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Today is the start of another mini-camp for the Packers. I believe it was during mini-camp last year that the Packers discovered that Torrence Marshall can't start at linebacker in the NFL so this mini-camp is important to find out if Nick Barnett can start in the NFL. Unfortunately he can't participate because classes are still in session at his college. This is a big mini-camp for projected strong safety Marques Anderson who the Packers have soured on as evidenced by their pursuit of Jason Sehorn and Sammy Knight. If he doesn't progress as the team would like, I wouldn't be surprised to hear the Packers persuing a free agent strong safety, but I haven't heard any names yet.

The biggest news last week was that Joe Johnson probably won't be suspended by the NFL although he was caught with possession of marijuana last month. Aaron Kampman is a nice player, but he isn't as good as the two time Pro Bowler.

And last week and had stories about how Najeh Davenport is the backup to Ahman Green this year, so the Packers sign Lamar Smith. I wouldn't think Smith's 3.5 yards/carry in 2002 for Carolina will help the Packers in 2003 but In Mike We Trust (IMWT). Personally Lamar Smith gives me a Chuck Webb flashback. If a team as down as Carolina (or in Webb's case Tampa Bay in 1991) gives up on a player maybe the Packers should give up on him too.