Friday, June 22, 2012

My First Time As A Shareholder

I became a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers for the first time last December when they had their most recent stock offering. With the annual meeting of shareholders coming up in July, I've received my first invitation to it. I won't be attending, but it's another souvenir for me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Packers 90-man Roster: Defensive Line

While the Green Bay Packers have created competition on the defensive line by drafting and signing several new players, there aren't enough roster spots for all of them. Most of the competition will be at defensive end, and these are the players from that are considered at that position:

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Guy, Lawrence 6-4 304 22 2
Hargrove, Anthony 6-3 282 28 8
Merling, Phillip 6-5 315 27 5
Neal, Mike 6-3 294 24 3
Wilson, C.J. 6-3 290 25 3
Worthy, Jerel 6-2 308 22 Rookie
Wynn, Jarius 6-3 285 25 4

I'm expecting three of these players will make the 53-man roster, so the competition should be fierce. Guy was stuck on injured reserve last season, and now (assuming he'll return healthy), he has to fight for a spot on  the 53-man roster, though he still may be eligible for the practice squad. Hargrove and Neal are staring down suspensions. While Hargrove may have no chance of changing the commissioner's mind over his participation in the pay-for-performance scheme while he was with the Saints, Neal might have his suspension lifted on appeal because his situation is similar to Andre Brown's. Based on what I read during the open OTAs, Worthy might be considered the top defensive end because of his ability as a pass rusher. Merling, Wilson, and Wynn are going to have to give the team a reason to keep them this preseason, but they all have potential.

Here are the defensive tackles (plus Jones who's listed as a "DL"):

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Jones, Johnny 6-4 310 23 1
Daniels, Mike 6-0 291 23 Rookie
Muir, Daniel 6-2 322 28 5
Pickett, Ryan 6-2 340 32 12
Raji, B.J. 6-2 337 25 4

Three-and-three: the Packers should keep three defensive ends and three defensive tackles. Jones spent 2011 on the practice squad, and that's his only hope of staying with the team again in 2012. Muir only played in 4 games in 2011 before the Colts released him, so he'll have to prove that he still belongs in the NFL, which I don't expect he'll be able to do. That could make it easy to keep Pickett, Raji, and 4th round pick Daniels (assuming his lingering shoulder injury doesn't land him on the I.R.).

The wild card is former Packer Johnny Jolly. Reading between the lines on a recent comment from team president Mark Murphy, who mentioned that he just wants Jolly to "lead a productive life" and notes that Jolly's been out of football for a couple years, it looks like the Packers aren't including Jolly into their plans. He might have some football left to play, but it seems they don't want to take back a player who could easily provide more headaches.

Overall competition level: high at defensive end, low at defensive tackle. Other than Pickett, Raji, and Worthy (Daniels will stay either on the active roster or I.R.), the other three positions could be made up of any combination of these players. These two positions will be ones to watch this preseason.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Packers Biggest Question Mark Entering Training Camp

A few questions about the Green Bay Packers were pondered on by Tyler Dunne. I'm not worried about anything on the offensive side of the ball. My biggest question is: Did the Packers make the right decision on Nick Perry?

Based on the first team reps at OTA, it looks like Perry is locked in as the starter at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews. Both Frank Zombo and Erik Walden are back, but there's been no mention of either player in a significant role during the open OTAs. Perry might be sliding a little bit under the radar because he's just one of three early round defensive draft picks (Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward being the others) and the out-of-nowhere performance by undrafted rookie Dezman Moses.

But Moses might still turn out to be nothing more than another Brad Jones. And Worthy was always going to get playing time as a rotational defensive tackle. Hayward might overtake Sam Shields on the depth chart in training camp, but the defense will only take a big step forward when Perry emerges.

Does Perry really want to play linebacker? While he didn't drop back into coverage much in college, all of the weaknesses mentioned by Dan Kadar sound like things that can be improved with coaching, but his speed off the snap cannot be taught.

Right now, I've got no answer to this question, and it won't be answered until he's playing in games next season. His ability to rush the passer, along with the additional depth on the defensive line and the return to health of CB Tramon Williams, could be the final piece needed to turn the defense back into a force. If he struggles, then they'd have to count on players like Williams, Charlie Peprah, and A.J. Hawk to bounce back from disappointing seasons, which might be too much wishful thinking.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Looking Back At The Second Week of OTAs

WR Randall Cobb is already looking fast and catching everything thrown to him, according to JS His 2011 season was really impressive considering he had a short offseason to learn the offense, but he's a great talent and the coaches limited his opportunities, which I'm sure helped the learning curve. A receiver's second season, after he's had a year to learn the offense and build a relationship with the quarterback, should be a big one. The coaches, and Aaron Rodgers, all like James Jones, so I don't think Cobb should be expected to move ahead of him. But Jones, Cobb, and Donald Driver could each play about the same number of snaps in 2012. More of this next season!

The Press-Gazette had a lot of comments after Tuesday's open practice:

I wasn't sure if the Packers had gotten anything except an injured player when they drafted T Andrew Datko  in the 7th round, but he's been playing at left and right tackle. I doubt he's in the mix to start, yet, at either position, but the Packers have some other free agent options in camp besides Datko, so he's moved ahead of a few other players already.

LT Marshall Newhouse is starting, but Derek Sherrod is being held out as he continues to rehab his injured leg. Sherrod might have a chance to move ahead and win the starting job, but he won't get his chance until training camp, at the earliest.

The emergence of undrafted OLB Dezman Moses continues, as he battles Erik Walden for the backup role behind Clay Matthews. Maybe he'll be no better than Walden, but it sounds like the Packers found another undrafted free agent keeper. Apparently Walden wants to start, but he'll have no chance if he's stuck behind Matthews. They are leaving the door wide open, unsurprisingly, for Nick Perry to start at the other outside linebacker position, with only Vic So'oto backing him up.

CB Sam Shields is holding off Casey Hayward and Davon House. I don't expect this position to be resolved until we see them all play this preseason.

I'm really glad to read that QB Graham Harrell is showing improved arm strength. The only reason the Packers survived with Matt Flynn as the backup in 2008 was because he wasn't needed. If Rodgers were to miss a game or two next season, I was afraid Harrell wouldn't be up to the task. But he seems to be improving, and I'm looking forward to watching him this preseason.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mike Neal's Appeal and Atari Bigby in San Diego

Green Bay Packers DE Mike Neal is currently expected to begin the 2012 season with a four-game suspension because he took Adderall (which is commonly used to treat ADHD) without realizing the NFL considers it a banned stimulant. However, the NFL has made exceptions for it and Neal is appealing the suspension. Originally, I thought the league office would never lift the suspension, but a running back for the Giants recently had his similar suspension lifted on appeal. I would be more excited by the prospect of having him available for all 16-games next season if he'd played better or stayed healthy over the past couple seasons.

Speaking of healthy players, former starting safety Atari Bigby is currently healthy and making a good impression with his new team, the Chargers. They have an opening, and Bigby is certainly good enough to start, even if his pass coverage skills aren't great. For him, it's all about staying healthy, which is easier said than done. He's a big hitter and it has to take a toll on him.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Return of Tramon Williams in 2012

There might be no member of the Green Bay Packers that needed the long offseason more than CB Tramon Williams. Now that the 2011 season is long over, he told JS about the nerve damage he suffered last season that left him unable to bench press "35-pound dumbbells" and, most importantly, took away his ability to play press coverage.

Williams didn't become an NFL starter because of his amazing physical abilities; he was undrafted in 2006. He learned how to play aggressively alongside CB Charles Woodson, and when you take away his ability to be aggressive, you see his mediocre 2011 season.

Hopefully the offseason rest does him a world of good, and we can see more highlights like this in 2012.

Williams said "It just takes time. There's nothing you can do...The nerve pretty much has a mind of its own" which is pretty much the official treatment. Unfortunately, the recovery time is different everyone, and he might not be all the way back by the start of the season. Here's to hoping that he's fully recovered by September.

Monday, June 04, 2012

At Safety, The Packers At Least Have a Lot of Options

For whatever reason, under GM Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers haven't made a big effort to stock their safety position with depth. When S Atari Bigby struggled with injuries in 2008 and 2009, his absence exposed their lack of depth. It was so bad in 2008 that they switched Charles Woodson to safety for one game, and in 2009, they even gave LB Brandon Chillar some reps at the position.

Actually, at the start of the 2011 season, the Packers had as much depth at safety as they've had in recent years. Nick Collins hadn't missed a game since 2007 and Morgan Burnett had returned from an ACL injury. Charlie Peprah was held in reserve as the top backup after starting in place of Burnett for most of the 2010 season. Instead the position was blown open by the (probably) career ending neck injury to Collins and the collapse of Peprah, who was bad throughout the season, before getting embarrassed during the playoff loss to the Giants.

The Packers haven't uncovered every stone to upgrade at safety, but selecting Jerron McMillan in the 4th round and signing two undrafted rookies is a big haul for them. Obviously the release of Collins has made this more of a priority than it had been in recent years, but the 2012 draft class was weak at safety so it's understandable that they went with some high risk/high reward prospects, especially when they needed to use their high draft choices to bolster the pass rush and defensive line. takes a closer look at M.D. Jennings, who the Packers saw something in last year after signing him as an undrafted free agent. I'm not a believer in him yet, but I expect he'll get a much longer look this preseason with a full offseason to prepare, and with the expectation that he should be the top backup, or even the starter alongside Burnett.

He's probably a long-shot to make the roster, but they also signed Micah Pellerin, an undrafted rookie out of Hampton, to give them another option. According to NFL Draft Scout, he's undersized, but showed good coverage skills at the East-West Shrine Game. Right now they need as many options as they can get.