I've been asleep at the wheel. The Packers released 2004 3rd round pick CB Joey Thomas last week after he made a big mistake in the loss at Cincinnati and then failed to admit it. Obviously 2005 has been a major disappointment for Thomas. In the 2005 mini-camps, Thomas had been the starting cornerback opposite CB Al Harris, but he had an injury and lost his job to CB Ahmad Carroll. When he was finally healthy, he didn't play very well. He was beaten badly by WR Braylon Edwards against Cleveland for a long touchdown a few weeks ago and then he committed an illegal use of hands penalty at Cincinnati to seal their victory. It wasn't absolutely necessary to release Thomas last week, the Packers used his roster spot to pick up DB Jeremy Thornburg who had just been cut by defense-challenged San Francisco, but it appeared the Packers, certainly Mike Sherman, had given up on Thomas and felt he had no future with the team.
The only active roster move this week was bringing WR Chad Lucas up from the practice squad. Lucas played some in the preseason and he didn't really stand out. If the injury to WR Antonio Chatman keeps him out in Atlanta, say hello to 3rd wideout Chad Lucas! Chatman is listed as probable and should play on Sunday. What is worse is that WR Andrae Thurman is the current 3rd wideout. Thurman played at the end of the 2004 season and he looked confused on pass routes during the playoff game versus Minnesota. He also committed at least one illegal shift penalty against Pittsburgh. Thurman hasn't caught a pass in 2005 and has a grand total of 2 catches for 12 yards in his NFL career. This might be the reason QB Brett Favre is feeling so lethargic this week.
Maybe OL Scott Wells will take over for OL Adrian Klemm this week at left guard. Klemm was the Packers big free agent signing this season, although it was not a big spending offseason. Klemm was not missed in New England, where he spent his first few seasons recovering from injuries and usually disappointing on the field. Klemm committed a big false start penalty against Pittsburgh which helped set up the sack of Favre, fumble, and return for the touchdown by Pittsburgh. The bigger sin Klemm might have committed is his inability to pull on running plays. After watching ex-Packer LG Mike Wahle pull and destroy whatever defender happened to get in his way over the last few seasons, I haven't seen anything like that from Klemm. It might be part of the reason the Packers running game has struggled this season. It was very noticeable against Pittsburgh, because the Packers could not run outside the tackles at all during the game. This seemingly small move might make a big improvement.
Footballoutsiders.com handed their First Half Loser League MVP award to K Ryan Longwell. The article is about half way down the page. Go read the article or read my comments regarding Longwell I've made this season. I was surprised to read that no one in the NFL was less valuable than Longwell, but I can't disagree with it either.
Another bit of knowledge from footballoutsiders.com com (via Fox Sports) is that the Packers are the worst team in the NFL by far in late and close offense. I don't have an exact definition or late and close, but you probably get the idea. That statement is true, but not really the whole story.
It is true that the Packers often have a chance late in games to tie or win and fail to pull victory from the claws of defeat. However, the Packers have shown the ability to rally and come from behind, but they are usually so far behind they can't make it all up. The Cincinnati game is a great example. The Packers were down 21-7 early in the 4th quarter and the Packers spent the next 10 minutes of the game clock driving for a touchdown to close it to 21-14. The Packers have had few big plays on offense this season and the scoring drives are usually long. It took so long to get close, that when they got the ball back, there just wasn't any time left to march down the field again. It isn't so much that when the game is on the line the Packers choke, but that to come back in the first place took so much time that the situation is almost impossible when they catch up within one score.