Saturday, August 09, 2014

It's Packers 2014 preseason football time: Pack vs. Titans!

Oh, baby...at long, long last...Green Bay Packers football is about to get underway. The road to the Super Bowl, fellow Packer fans, begins this evening in Tennessee. Our Pack take on the Titans in the first of four preseason games. Expect not to see much of any of the projected starters. Particularly those named Aaron Rodgers.

Tonight, we'll get our first glimpse of the 2014 edition of the Packers. On display will be the work of the two fellows competing to be the primary backup to Rodgers: Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzein. The Packers know what Flynn can do: provide a knowledge of the system and even win games now and then. But we suspect they are more interested in seeing what Tolzein can do now with a bit more experience. They know he has a stronger arm than Flynn. The question is can he be a consistent leader on the field and win. Flynn's steady, Tolzein has a better chance to make a big play. What will shake out by the time the final roster decisions need to be made? This game starts to make that picture come into focus.

The same, of course, can be said for many other players and positions. Safety has been one getting a lot of attention in training camp. Given the lack of production from that unit last season, expectations are much higher this season. Morgan Burnett missed most of this week's camp with a strained oblique and will be held out tonight. As a result, second-year player Micah Hyde and first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are expected to start, and much focus will of course be placed upon how Clinton-Dix adapts to the pro game.

But don't be surprised if you see third-year player Sean Richardson in the mix with the starters. During his Thursday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say about Richardson: "I'll tell you what, Sean Richardson is having a hell of a training camp." Any number of pundits and reporters have noted that Richardson has been very impressive in camp. The coaching staff has taken notice. Richardson was an undrafted free agent who made the team in 2012, but that rookie season was cut short with injuries and he played in only five games. In 2013, he played in just six games. The Packers are anxious to see what a healthy Richardson can do. At 6'2" and 216 lbs., he is an imposing presence in the defensive backfield. I'm one of those rooting for him to stay on the field and make many contributions this season. He's an intriguing player.

Other young players will also be getting a close look tonight. Second-year player J.C. Tretter is slated to be the starting center if all goes according to script. McCarthy says he likes what he has seen from Tretter in practice, so we'll see what happens in live game action. Rookie Corey Linsley will also get a good look at center.

On offense, tight end is a position of interest with the apparent final departure of Jermichael Finley. Jake Stoneburner looks to take a step up in his play, while rookie Richard Rodgers has also received a lot of positive reviews in camp. In the wide receiver corps, expectations are high for rookie Davante Adams who has apparently been nothing but spectacular in camp.

But don't count out rookie Jeff Janis. Janis missed the first week of camp with an illness and practiced for the first time on Wednesday. During that first practice, Janis made a one-handed touchdown catch in the back-left corner of the end zone of a pass from Tolzein. Not to be outdone, Adams followed Janis’ catch with a one-handed touchdown grab of a Matt Flynn pass.

These are just a few of the players to keep an eye on, of course.

A big part of these preseason games for fans is just getting used to new players and new numbers. "Who is that?" will be a common statement tonight, whether on a good or poor play.

For coaches, they want to see what the new young guys may be able to contribute to make this team better. It's a fun and exciting time of the year. Hopes from fans and coaches alike are that no one gets seriously injured. The Pack has already lost wide receiver and returner Jared Abbrederis and offensive lineman Don Barclay to torn ACL's. The Packers have seemed a bit snake-bitten in recent seasons with injuries. Let's hope this early trend doesn't continue.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Soooo...Packers training camp is underway! And Pack signs Jordy Nelson for 4 more years!

Well, Packer fans, it's that time of year again. And my oh my, aren't we so glad?

I have arisen from post-draft slumber and blog-writing summer vacation and finally have emerged from my man cave to shake off the writer's rust and at least get something down on the cyber-paper while I have a moment. (See: that was one of the worst sentences I have ever written! Good thing there's training camp to get me back into regular season writing shape.)

Let's start with the big news out of camp today: the Green Bay Packers reportedly signed WR Jordy Nelson to a four-year contract extension valued in the neighborhood of $39 million plus incentives. That's a mighty fine neighborhood, Mr. Nelson. Congratulations. Well-deserved.

Now, how 'bout the camp schedule?


We'll be back with more on the Pack's activities as things move along.

For now, I'm glad the players and coaches are back. And I'm glad to be back here at PackerFansUnited.com, too. Thanks for reading. Appreciate it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Packers add undrafted free agents to talent pool

As with every other team in the NFL, when the draft is over it's still not really over. Oh sure, the draft part is with the big hoopla. But minutes after the selection of the last pick -- Mr. Irrelevant -- teams can begin signing those players who, for whatever reasons, weren't among the chosen draft elite.

For the Green Bay Packers, they have reportedly picked up the following players as undrafted free agents:

* Chase Rettig, QB, Boston College
* Justin Perillo, TE, Maine
* John Fullington, G, Washington State
* Justin McCray, G, Central Florida
* Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee
* James Sims, RB, Kansas
* Mike Pennel, NT, Colorado State-Pueblo:
* Carlos Gray, NT, North Carolina State
* Joe Thomas, ILB, South Carolina State
* Jake Doughty, LB, Utah State
* Jayrone Elliott, OLB, Toledo
* Ryan White, CB, Auburn
* Tanner Miller, S, Iowa
* Jordan Stanton, OLB-DE, James Madison

Among these may be players invited for try outs. There may also be players not listed here who are also invited in for tryouts. This is a fun week, Packer fans. Ted Thompson provided a great draft class, and there are a few interesting players among the above list, as well, even given the long-shot nature of their current status.


I'd keep my eye on Joe Thomas as perhaps the most likely candidate in this group to have a shot at making the final roster. The skinny on him is that he was the MEAC defensive player of the year in 2013, with 116 tackles (20 for loss) and 7½ sacks. His team, South Carolina State, was the FCS' No. 1 defense. He's a player, although perhaps a bit undersized at a little more than 6 feet tall and 227 pounds. But with the Packers' draft needs going unmet for an inside linebacker, Thomas may be a guy to keep your eye on.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Packers 2014 Draft Review: Rounds 4-7

The 2014 NFL Draft for the Green Bay Packers (and the rest of the league, of course) wound down this afternoon. The Packers had nine picks going into the draft; they made four yesterday (see prior post) and five today. Contrary to form, GM Ted Thompson stayed pat with the selections the team started with...no wheeling and dealing, no moving up or down, no Trader Ted. How unusual. But, all in all, it looks as if Thompson and the Packers' brain trust had very good reasons for sticking with their allotted selections. All the players selected -- even the later round picks -- could potentially make the team. They were the best available athletes available, and they met needs. The only real need going into the draft that was not addressed was inside linebacker. When asked about that in his post-draft press conference, Thompson reportedly replied that "It just didn't work out." So it goes.

So who are the latest additions to the team?
Top row L-R: Carl Bradford, Corey Linsley.
Bottom row L-R: Jared Abbrederis, Demetri Goodson, Jeff Janis.


ROUND
NUMBER PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4
121
Carl Bradford
OLB
Arizona St.
5
161
Corey Linsley
C
Ohio State
5
176 (compensatory)
Jared Abbrederis
WR
Wisconsin
6
197
Demetri Goodson
CB
Baylor
7
236
Jeff Janis
WR
Saginaw Valley State

Analysis on each player can be found here; kudos to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for providing a great overview of the newest Packers.

Our take?
In general, we like the Packers' picks very much. Given where the Pack was picking and the depth available, these picks makes sense. And, as noted earlier, it would seem at least on paper that each of these players from top to bottom has a chance to make the final roster. A lot of things will obviously play out between now and the start of the season. But we grade this an A- draft, given that inside linebacker was not addressed. But other than that...?

We especially like the fact that, for the first time in his tenure as Packers GM, Thompson finally drafted a player from the University of Wisconsin. Finally! Jared Abbrederis, some felt, dropped a bit in the draft because of his conussion history. But sitting there at number 176 -- a compensatory pick, that cannot be traded, by the way -- Abbrederis was just too good to pass up. Personally, we're very happy he got the call from 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Another former Badger we would have liked to have seen the Packers get was ILB Chris Borland. Unfortunately, he wound up going about eight selections ahead of the Packers in the third round...to the (ew!) 49ers. Dang!

Next up for all teams is signing undrafted free agents. These players are much more of a long-shot to make a team, but they can and do. Let's see if Thompson gets an inside linebacker and quarterback in that group. Here's betting he does.

Ah...football! Nothing better. And especially nothing better than being a Packer fan!

Go Pack Go!!!

If you have anything to say about this draft, here's your chance. We don't open up for comments very often, so make it good.

Packers 2014 Draft Review: Rounds 1-3

While the actual NFL football season is still several months away, the NFL Draft marks the unofficial start of the season for many fans. It sure gets the juices of Packers fans going.


To the surprise of some, GM Ted Thompson -- Trader Ted -- didn't make a move through the first three rounds, choosing instead to stay pat with the team's assigned picks. So, what do we make of the Pack's picks through the first two days? From this vantage point, we're pleased. Let's take a look at the selections, shall we...

ROUND
NUMBER
PLAYER
POSITION
SCHOOL
1
21
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
S
Alabama
2
53
Davante Adams
WR
Fresno State
3
85
Khyri Thornton
DT
Southern Miss
3
98 (compensatory)
Richard Rodgers
TE
California

Analysis on each player can be found here; kudos to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for providing a great overview of the newest Packers.

What's our take?
As noted earlier, we think the Packers have generally had a good start to the draft. Getting Clinton-Dix, one of the top safeties available, means there is finally a good complement to Morgan Burnett. Perhaps the Pack's safeties will actually record an interception this season. Plus, Clinton-Dix is physical. Being given Charles Woodson's old number -- 21 -- is hopefully a precursor of things to come.

With Adams at wide receiver, the Packers added the nation's reception leader from 2013. He knows how to find the endzone, too. Over the last two seasons, he scored 38 touchdowns with Fresno State. As one pundit stated after the pick, the Packers replaced James Jones with a better version of James Jones. If you were happy with Jones (at least, most of the time), we think you'll be happy with Adams. Our guess is Aaron Rodgers will be, too.

Thornton may have been an unknown commodity to most Packer fans, unless you happen to reside in the South, of course. He was a fifth-year senior and team captain at Southern Miss. The story on him is that he is an athlete. At 6'3" and 304 pounds, he is the type of defensive tackle that could spell relief for B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, and perhaps be the replacement for one or the other down the road...with Pickett the more likely given his age.

To say we'll have fun with the Rodgers to Rodgers pass-catch duo is an understatement. Plus, both of the Rodgers' attended California...synchronicity! Rodgers (that will be Richard, not Aaron) has played at both blocking tight end and inside receiver. He has versatility, something the Packers value highly in all their players and particularly their receivers. He's not exactly a burner speed-wise (not too many tight ends are), but at 6'4" and about 260, and apparently with very good hands, he should add some needed competition and depth at the tight end spot for the Pack, who will likely be without Jermichael Finley going forward.

So, bottom line: good job, Ted. Can't wait to see what you do today.

At least for now, the remaining selections for the Packers look like this:
Round 4 (121st overall)
Round 5 (161st overall)
Round 5 (176th overall) -- Compensatory
Round 6 (197th overall)
Round 7 (236th overall)

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Packers 2014 Draft Musings - Part 1

At long last, we're finally getting around to addressing the 2014 NFL Draft and what the Green Bay Packers might do during the draft. It's about time, don't you think? After all, it's just four days away.

We've never done mock drafts here at PackerFansUnited.com for one main reason: we generally think they are a waste of time. At least, for us. Really, the odds of actually correctly making all picks in the first and second rounds would be akin to accurately picking the winner of the NCAA basketball tournament with all the bracket winners included. Possible? Sure. Probable? Not so much. And seven round projections...? C'mon. Really? Really???

Having said that, we do still appreciate all those individuals and organizations, however, that spend countless hours reviewing all the players in the draft, their stats, etc. etc. We confess to checking those out on occasion and, in fact, consider some of them as the basis for what we might wish to say about the draft or the Packers' possible picks, such as this article, for example. So, thanks to those who do the heavy lifting in this regard. You'll find yours truly on the patio, in the hammock, kicking back until things actually happen.

What will the Packers do?
As Packers GM Ted Thompson said the other day during his pre-draft press conference, if anyone says they have "inside information" about what the Packers are going to do, they don't. Thompson said that sometimes he's the only one with the inside information within the Packers organization. And he's not telling...anyone.

But, of course, as noted earlier, lots of folks have views. One of the folks we look to here for some trusted insights is the Radio Voice of the Green Bay Packers, Wayne Larrivee. He spoke with the Packers' flagship radio station, 620WTMJ in Milwaukee, a few days ago regarding his thoughts. Here's the interview. Take 10 minutes and listen to it.

Generally, we don't even discuss possible picks beyond the first round because at that point it's a crap shoot -- and, let's be honest, even in the first round that's the case. So, let's take a look at the players that seem to be emerging as somewhat consensus picks for the Packers if, in fact, they keep the 21st pick:

  • C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama -- Mosley shows up at this slot in quite a number of the mock drafts out there. He's a pick that makes sense as the Packers need to beef up their linebacking corps, especially opposite A.J. Hawk. He could line up at several spots, and provide the Packers with some speed, power and versatility that was lacking last season. We'd be quite happy if Mosley was the selection.

  • Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State -- Shazier, like Mosley, is one of the best linebackers in the draft. Many of the qualities that would make Mosley a good fit for the Packers would also make Shazier a good fit. Arguably, he might be a better cover linebacker than Mosley, an area where the Packers really need some improvement. Again, we'd be quite pleased if he wound up being the pick.

  • Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina -- With TE Jermichael Finley's career likely over, at least in Green Bay if not in the league, the Packers need to replace the threat that Finley was when healthy. Ebron would be that player. He'd have to fall into the Packers' lap, as most mocks have him off the board by this point, but if he's available, we think this could be the Packers' man at number 21. This is a deep draft, with good prospects at several key defensive positions, which means the Packers could get the help they need in that area of things during the second and third rounds especially. But there are not that many great tight end prospects. If Ebron is there, the Packers would be well served in selecting him.

  • Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State -- Many mock drafts have Dennard off the board by the time the Packers will be making their pick. But if available, he could make a significant impact in helping to improve the Packers' secondary because of his speed and physicality. If Mosley and Ebron are gone by the time the Packers are on the clock, and both Dennard and Shazier are available, it will be interesting to see which area of the defense the Packers choose to address first: secondary or linebacker. Again, this is a pick we'd be happy to see the Packers make.

  • Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame -- Even though the Packers kept B.J. Raji around for another season, they need to restock. Nix is one of the best defensive tackles in the draft and would make a great addition to the Packers front line. If the other players noted above are gone, the Packers would do well to put Nix into the Green 'n' Gold.


  • Other Possibilities

  • Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville -- Safety is a definite need for the Packers in this year's draft, and Pryor would bring size and speed to the position. In many mocks, he's off the board by the time the Packers pick at 21. If he's there, and players noted above are off the board, Pryor could be a very good gift in the first round.

  • Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois -- We wouldn't say this player is a "consensus" pick for the Pack at number 21, nor even a consensus first-rounder. But his stock seems to be rising and a couple mocks have him going to the Pack. He could play either corner or safety, and is physical...something that the Packers' secondary was not last season. We could see the Packers taking Ward if he's available in a later round, or if they trade back, but would be surprised if they made this pick so early in the draft.

  • Kony Ealy, DE/DT, Missouri -- Ealy has a lot of speed and versatility. But, as with Ward, we don't see the Packers taking him in the first round, but could jump on him if he is available later.

  • What are your thoughts about the upcoming draft? Who would you like to see the Packers get at 21? Who would you be your surprise pick for the Packers at number 21? Feel free to share your thoughts.


    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Packers 2014 Schedule - Play NFL Kickoff Game at Seattle

    At long last, Packers fans, we have the official NFL release of the 2014 regular season schedule. And finally, something for yours truly to write about.

    Home opponents are shown in all CAPS and all times shown are Central Time. Times with an asterisk (*) may shift, along with TV carrier, due to NFL flexible scheduling.

    So, without further ado...

    DATE OPPONENT KICKOFF TIME TV
    Thurs. Sept. 4 at Seattle Seahawks 7:30 p.m. NBC
    Sun. Sept. 14 NY JETS 3:25 p.m. CBS
    Sun. Sept. 21 at Detroit Lions Noon Fox
    Sun. Sept. 28 at Chicago Bears Noon Fox
    Thurs. Oct. 2 MINNESOTA VIKINGS (Gold Pkg.) 7:25 p.m. CBS
    Sun. Oct. 12 at Miami Dolphins Noon* Fox
    Sun. Oct. 19 CAROLINA PANTHERS Noon* Fox
    Sun. Oct. 26 at New Orleans Saints 7:30 p.m.* NBC
    Sun. Nov. 2 BYE WEEK
    Sun. Nov. 9 CHICAGO BEARS 7:30 p.m.* NBC
    Sun. Nov. 16 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Gold Pkg.) Noon* Fox
    Sun. Nov. 23 at Minnesota Vikings Noon* Fox
    Sun. Nov. 30 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 3:25 p.m.* CBS
    Mon. Dec. 8 ATLANTA FALCONS 7:30 p.m. ESPN
    Sun. Dec. 14 at Buffalo Bills Noon* Fox
    Sun. Dec. 21 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Noon* Fox
    Sun. Dec. 28 DETROIT LIONS Noon* Fox

    What's the initial take?

    Immediate reaction: the first eight weeks before the bye will be key to setting up the second half of the season for the Packers. Nothing too revelatory about that statement. Applies generally, doesn't it? But this first half is going to be extra tough as the Pack plays only three of their first eight games at home. Yikes. Of course, the second half of the season gives the team the flip side of that arrangement: five games at home and three on the road. Guess that's the way you'd prefer things, all things considered.

    Starting on the road against the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks is going to be a tough one. But perhaps it's better to get them early. Plus the Packers need to get revenge for the "Fail Mary" game the last time they played in Seattle. At least the referees will know what they are doing this time. (Bitter? Moi? Over that game two years ago? Darn right!)

    Then back home to meet the Jets before heading out for back-to-back games against divisional opponents and then back to Lambeau Field for a third consecutive divisional game.

    As noted earlier, only three home games in the first eight. The bye comes at a very good time. But any rest advantage against Da Bearz is out the window as Chicago also has its bye during that same Week 9.

    If the Packers get things rolling and can emerge fairly unscathed from the first half of the season, the second half should set things up for a good divisional run...and beyond.

    More thoughts will no doubt emerge with further reflection. But for now, let's say it together: GO PACK GO!!!

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Packers get two compensatory picks

    Today was the day that the NFL in its generosity handed out -- assigned, actually -- compensatory draft picks to teams who lost players in free agency last season. The Packers got an additional third round pick for Greg Jennings and another fifth round pick for Erik Walden.

    Here's how the Packers go into the upcoming NFL Draft:
    • R1: 21
    • R2: 53
    • R3: 85
    • R3: 98 (comp)
    • R4: 121
    • R5: 161
    • R5: 176 (comp)
    • R6: 197
    • R7: 236
    You can see the full draft order here.

    Now, we all know that "Trader Ted" Thompson likes to move around and pick up more picks, if possible. That usually involves trading down somewhere along the way. There's been some speculation, because of the depth of the draft, that the Packers might trade out of the #21 position. It's possible that Thompson might move down a few spots to pick up an additional draft choice if he feels he can meet his needs with one of the players high on their draft board. I think it's equally likely that if "the guy" is there they want Thompson will select at #21 and then worry about other moves later. Time will tell.

    In a related note, it now turns out that with compensatory picks included, the 49ers now have six picks in the top 100. The rich get richer.

    Don't you just love that we're really starting to get into football talk again, Packer fans? Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.

    Go Pack Go!!!