Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Packers signed 3rd round pick G Jason Spitz. After two mini-camps, Spitz emerged as the likely starter at right guard. Hopefully he really is good and didn't look good by comparison against two 2005 late round draft picks who have never played (G Junius Coston) or flamed out last season (G Will Whitticker). If he is the starter, then it was essential for him to sign before camp starts tomorrow. The article wasn't too optimistic about signing 2nd round pick G Daryn Colledge. The same thing about Spitz applies to Colledge; if he is starting, then he better be signed and in camp tomorrow. There shouldn't be too much trouble signing LB A.J. Hawk at this point with number 4 pick overall LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and number 7 pick overall S Michael Huff signed. Hopefully the Packers and Hawk's agent need only a little more time to analyse those deals and come up with something in between. Hawk is going to start and needs to be in camp tomorrow.

As a general rule, no one should expect a rookie to start in the NFL. It takes them a season to get used to the routine, the speed at which the game is played, and the long season compared to college. However, when coming off a 4-12 season, there are obviously more holes than usual in the starting lineups and taking some chances are in order. Linebacker and offensive line were two of the weakest (special teams deserves mention too) positions on the team in 2005. Upgrading these positions and getting these players in camp on time is very important this season.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Training camp is starting July 28th. It has been a quiet summer, but there have two bits of good news this week. CB Al Harris will be in camp when it opens. Harris threatened last month to hold out, but apparently he thinks his chances are better for an extension if he shows up to camp instead of holding out. There is still the possibility this could turn ugly mid-season if Harris decides the Packers aren't going to give him a fair contract extension. The safe thing to do would be to extend Harris, but GM Ted Thompson decided it wasn't worth it for WR Javon Walker so Thompson obviously has his limits. Thompson might be right; Harris might not be worth it in a couple of seasons.

Thompson expects to have no problem signing LB A.J. Hawk. It is troubling that the only first round pick to sign is DE Mario Williams, and he signed before the draft. Thompson has probably agreed with Hawk's agent that Hawk should be paid X if RB Reggie Bush or another top draft pick receives a certain amount, but will Hawk be paid Y if Bush receives more. If Thompson has the parameters agreed to with Hawk's agent under a couple of different circumstances, then Hawk will probably be in camp on time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

There is some speculation that LB A.J. Hawk might be hard to sign and start training camp late. It doesn't help that last year's number five overall pick was RB Cadillac Williams. The Packers probably want to pay a linebacker like Hawk less than a running back like Williams. Although DE Mario Williams is already signed, all the agents will probably consider RB Reggie Bush the true number one pick and are waiting to slot their client's salaries after Bush signs. There could be a delay in signing all 1st round picks due to higher salary demands after the increase in the salary cap last March. Any delay in starting training camp could easily delay Hawk's ability to adjust to the NFL. However, if the previous minicamps are any indication, it doesn't appear the Packers have any intention to play any linebacker other than Hawk at the weak side this season and Hawk will have to learn during the regular season. With the departure of LBs Na'il Diggs and Paris Lenon this offseason, there is no obvious second string weak side linebacker and the best guess is that free agent LB Ben Taylor would be the likely replacement if Hawk ends up holding out for a long time.