The first mini-camp ended last week without much big news, although a few stories did raise their heads.
QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers played like a rookie QB in the mini-camp; awful. Jsonline.com reported that Rodgers even had trouble with his accuracy, which was his strength in college. The coaches all appeared quick to defend Rodgers. It will be interesting to see how Rodgers looks when the preseason starts; he should have plenty of opportunities in those games.
The offensive line. Footballoutsiders.com described the who's who's of candidates to replace departed OGs Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle. If the season started tomorrow, it would probably be Matt O'Dwyer (if healthy) and Adrian Klemm. Klemm was the big signing this offseason, but footballoutsiders.com is staffed by New England fans who spent the last several seasons watching Klemm suck for the Pats. C/OG Grey Ruegamer, C Scott Wells and RT Kevin Barry all have a chance to compete too. Maybe even T Brennan Curtin, but T Steve Morley's poor NFL-Europe performance after a disappointing 2004 season probably ended any chance for him. If Barry made the lineup, it might move RT Mark Tauscher to guard. The biggest news for this unit was the healthy return of C Mike Flanagan, as reported by numerous sources. Last season, I questioned whether Flanagan should retire because he missed the 2004 season due to complications from the injuries he suffered in 1996, and I thought he might want to retire while he could still walk. However, Flanagan's surgery appears to have been a success and he appears ready to resume his career. Flanagan's return, along with competant seasons by Rivera and Wahle's eventually replacements, might be enough to offset the loss of the two starting guards.
WR Terrence Murphy. Murphy got a lot of press at jsonline.com, but he might have gotten a lot of good words from the coaches for WR Javon Walker's sake. Maybe the coaches wanted the word to get out to Walker that Murphy looks great and just maybe he could play in place of Walker. Murphy is a welcome addition to a wide receiver group that had paper thin depth in 2004 that was torn wide open once WR Robert Ferguson was lost for the season during the game vs. Jacksonville. Murphy can push Ferguson, challenge WR Antonio Chatman, and maybe even encourage Walker to show up for training camp.
Defensive coordinator Jim Bates's new defense. There are a lot of candidates at the two safety spots with no clear favorites. Rookie S Nick Collins had a lot of playing time according to jsonline.com, but if the season started today, the Packers would probably start last season's disappointing SS Mark Roman and S Arturo Freeman, who followed Bates to the Packers from Miami. Both players could easily lose out to other players, including veteran S Earl Little or rookie S Marviel Underwood. LB Ray Thompson and LB Hannibal Navies are also battling to start at linebacker alongside LBs Nick Barnett and Na'il Diggs. Jsonline.com reported Thompson was hurt early and Navies is still recovering from the injuries he sustained during the 2004 season. Navies told jsonline.com that his disappointing season was the result of a week 1 rib injury he suffered against Carolina. For whatever reason, it was the first time I heard that Navies played hurt during most of 2004. If that was the reason Navies lost nearly all effectiveness during 2004 then his return to his solid 2003 self would be very welcome.
P B.J. Sander joined the team after a successful NFL Europe season! Huzzah! Jsonline.com had a story that Sander had regain his ability to target kicks under the 10 yard line, but no one knows how that will go until Sander shows up in some games. I'm sorry B.J., but until you prove otherwise, you have been a complete bust and last season's P Bryan Barker should keep his bags packed and ready to fly to Green Bay.