Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cory Rodgers Bust - Part Deux

More details on the Cory Rodgers arrest in Texas are starting to emerge. You can find a report from the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel here. You can find additional articles by checking the "Latest Headlines" section in the righthand column of this blog. Makes for great Memorial Day Weekend reading.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Cory Rodgers Busted in Texas

Packers fourth round draft pick, receiver Cory Rodgers, was arrested in Fort Worth, TX, earlier today after allegedly being involved in an altercation at a bar between TCU football team members and gang members. Hmmm, sounds likes a great bar to hang out at, doesn't it?

What is alleged, according to WTMJ Channel 4 News in Milwaukee, is that Rodgers was arrested on charges of carrying and using a concealed weapon. After apparently refusing to sign autographs and buy drinks in the bar, things moved outside where Rodgers is alleged to have fired two gunshots into the air.

This is the second instance so far this year of a Packer being involved in a bar-related incident; defensive back Ahmad Carroll was also allegedly involved in an altercation back in Arkansas.

Here's a tip to immature young men with large bank accounts and equally large egos: stay out of bars! And especially, stay out of bars if you are carrying a gun!!! Just by doing that your trips to the idiot zone will decrease dramatically. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who Will Be #6?

The question of the day, kids, is who will be #6? Not jersey #6, but the sixth wide receiver. OK, it is a bit early to start speculating. But that's about all we can do this time of year, right? So what the heck. Let's play the game, shall we?

There was a decided shift in the potential receiving corps this season versus last: taller receivers. Both in terms of draftees and free agents, it's clear that both GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy want to move away from the more diminutive receivers which seemed to be part of former Coach Mike Sherman's offense. Currently, the Packers have 12 possible candidates for the six receiver spots Coach McCarthy says are available. Of those twelve, only second-round draft pick Greg Jennings, at 5-11, stands less than 6 feet. And Jennings seems to be a lock for the final roster after an impressive two minicamps.

Count Donald Driver as -- duh -- another roster lock after recently signing a contract extension. Reports indicate that veterans Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner also look safe. Unrestricted free agent Marc Boerigter is probably the frontrunner for the fifth receiver spot.

So who will be #6? There is a long way to go, and many practices to keep (apologies to Robert Frost for that paraphrase), but reports indicate that the competition will be fierce. While no one will jump in who can immediately replace that former Packer receiver who whined his way into a trade to Denver, there should be enough athleticism among the final group to help the Pack move the ball and score.

Among the possibilities for that final receiver spot are Chad Lucas and Vince Butler, both playing in NFL-Europe. Lucas has had an outstanding season, leading the league in scoring. Rookie Cory Rodgers, street free agent Ruvell Martin and undrafted free agents Leo Bookman, Calvin Russell and Chris Francies are also in the mix. Rodgers is fast and can also serve as a returner. Martin is a big target at 6-4 and 217 pounds, although he's not exceptionally fast. Still, he's had two great minicamps essentially catching everything thrown his way. Bookman is 6-2, 212, and fast -- the fastest of the group. He reportedly said the Packers had timed him at 4.19 and 4.25 seconds in the 40 in a workout at the Hutson Center. Not surprisingly, he has spent the past two seasons running professional track rather than playing intriguing prospect. Russell and Francies have adequate size and average speed. They'll have an uphill fight on their hands to make the final roster, although Baltimore, Indianapolis and Kansas City liked Russell enough to offer him a free agent deal after the draft; so he must have something going for him.

But it is nice to have a wealth of possibilities. Possibilities that might make one of the weak areas of the team the last season or so into one of the team's real strengths.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh Oh...It's Starting Earlier This Season would have been reasonable to assume that the Packers had several seasons worth of injuries all rolled into one last season. There should be clear sailing on that front for a long time to come.


In the last 15 minutes of Sunday's minicamp, veteran offensive lineman Kevin Barry went down with an injury. He had to be taken from the field on a cart. Until today, they weren't certain exactly what the prognosis would be.

Now they know: not good...may be out for the season...even before it starts.

The injury turned out to be a tear in Barry's quadriceps that will require surgery. Although the surgery hasn't yet been scheduled, Coach Mike McCarthy reportedly said that it will be sooner rather than later. He indicated that it was the same type of injury that cost RB Ahman Green most of his 2005 season. While Barry is bigger than the type of lineman the staff now wants to use in its zone blocking scheme, his experience and attitude were things the staff could count on regardless. So, scratch one 6-foot-4, 341-pound fifth-year tackle from this season's roster. Ouch.

Other owies from this last weekend include rookies CB Will Blackmon with an unspecified foot injury, and RB Arliss Beach who has a hamstring pull. Blackmon still needs to be examined by the team doctor before a prognosis can be made, but Coach McCarthy said Beach will likely be out anywhere from two to six weeks.

Let's just hope that these incidents are not the start of deja vu all over again.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Minicamp Meanderings

The first day of the second post-draft minicamps ran its course yesterday. Apparently a bit sloppy in the morning and a bit tighter in the afternoon. According to Coach McCarthy, 12 players did not attend or practice because of medical reasons and another 10 were absent because of personal matters. Typical early minicamp, in other words.

With QB Brett Favre actually told by Coach McCarthy to skip this camp, backup Aaron Rodgers got a lot of work. In doing so, he apparently is not only trying to hone his game but establish himself as a leader as well. After a lackluster performance by his offensive unit in the morning practice, Rodgers apparently got on his offensive teammates for their lack of intensity. Players responded in the afternoon with a more efficient and intense practice, according to reports. Good for you, kid!

Other news is that the packers wide receiver spots are probably the most competitive on the roster. Supposedly, we're talking the fourth and fifth spots as Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner are penciled in for the first three spots. But it also sounds as if, with the exception of Driver, all spots might be up for grabs. The Packers have receivers with different attributes to look at over the coming weeks and months: tall receivers to go up for passes, fast receivers to stretch the field, and quick receivers who can go over the middle and then make people miss in the open field. Nice problem to have. QB Rodgers, as quoted in today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has been impressed with rookie Greg Jennings as the possible fourth receiver: "...the most impressive thing about him is he's fast, but a lot of times fast guys aren't very quick out of their break. He's extremely quick out of his breaks. The first time I saw him on a route, he looked like a veteran, as far as getting out of his break, not telegraphing routes or anything." According to the Journal-Sentinel, Jennings caught a pass from Rodgers over the top of the linebackers at midfield and "spun and twirled around would-be tacklers in the way a running back would. He could be a slot receiver who has the potential to rack up yards after the catch." That sounds goooooooooood.

Other receivers who are or will be trying to catch the coaches' attention (some after returning from NFL-Europe or injury) and claim a spot on the roster include: Cory Rodgers, Ruvell Martin, Marc Boerigter, Chad Lucas, Vince Butler, Leo Bookman, Chris Francies and Calvin Russell. Looks as if Brett will have some folks to throw to this season and who, more importantly, will be able to make plays and help move the offense.

As for other news, supposedly pouting strong safety Mark Roman was at camp, not saying anything about demanding a trade or being unhappy that he might likely be displaced in his starting role by free agent signee Marquand Manuel. Manuel, who is still recovering from the groin injury he suffered in the Super Bowl, did individual drills but did not practice with the team. According to TV reports, Coach McCarthy and Roman met and cleared the air. Afterward, Roman said he was there to play football. No talk about being unhappy. Good thing: would probably make the coach unhappy and players do not want an unhappy coach. The light eventually comes on even for the dimmest to speak.

Speaking of dim bulbs, perennial lump on the log Donnell Washington has actually figured out his free ride in Green Bay might be coming to an end if he doesn't get his act After being held out of practice during the first minicamp because he showed up out of shape, Washington has, according to Coach McCarthy, worked at hitting his conditioning targets. Still, this former third-round draft choice has never been active for any of the 33 games for which he was eligible to play. Let's say that again...he has been inactive for ALL 33 games for which he could have played. I know what you're saying: "Hey, I could be inactive too...and I'd do it for half the money he's getting!" I know, I know. As one of the biggest and strongest players on the team, to say Washington has been a bust in his first two years is an understatement. OK, perhaps not quite the disappointment first-rounder Jamal Reynolds was -- although Reynolds did actually play in a few games -- but with the size and power that Washington could bring to the defensive line, it is a shame that he is not a professional in his approach to the game. With fellow veteran defensive tackles Ryan Pickett, Colin Cole, Corey Williams, Cullen Jenkins and Kenderick Allen clearly ahead of him, and rookie Johnny Jolly also now in the mix, Washington's days in Green Bay seem numbered. 6'6" and roughly 330 lbs (give or take), and with the ability to bench press 500 pounds, Washington is clearly someone with the physical attributes to make a contribution. But football, like all sport, takes heart. That, apparently, is the missing piece in Mr. Washington's game.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Dr. Samkon?

As the Packers second minicamp gets underway today -- the extra one permitted by the league because of the team's new coaching staff -- there is a side story. Not about the minicamp itself, but about one of the Pack's shining moments in an otherwise bleak last season: the emergence of unknown running back Samkon Gado. Before also being lost to injury, Gado flashed signs of being a dominating and explosive running back who might have just helped the Pack salvage its season. But after five rookie record-setting rushing games, Gado was also sidelined.

Along with his rehab on the leg injury, it turns out Gado has been interning at a local Green Bay hospital. In a TV segment which aired on WTMJ4 (Milwaukee) last evening, Gado was profiled in his medical intern role. Turns out, he wants to attend medical school when his playing days are done. Not only that, but that he would want to return to his native Nigeria to "give something back." He made the comment that retiring and sitting around just seems selfish to him. Clearly, here is a young man with character. Also, with smarts and apparently -- according to some of the nurses with whom he has been interning -- a great bedside manner. Clearly, the patients enjoyed him...and yes, it didn't take long for them to know he was a Packer...and he seemed as if he enjoyed helping others.

We can only wish Gado the best of everything, beginning with a complete recovery from his leg injury. And, being selfish, as fans we can also hope his entry into med school is delayed by a long and productive career as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Dr. Samkon Gado has a nice ring to it. But so does Packer Samkon Gado.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

You Know it's Slow When...

You know it's slow around Packerland when about the only things going on are the various charity events coaches and players are involved in. From Coach McCarthy hosting the just-completed annual golf outing benefiting St. Vincent Hospital's Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Wisconsin, to Edgar ("he's a mudder") Bennett's upcoming (June 16) Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon benefiting The Angel Fund for Children with Cancer, Inc., as well as the third annual Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer (June 10), a motorcycle ride to benefit cancer patients and families throughout Northeastern Wisconsin, and of course the Brett Favre Celebrity Softball Game (June 11), this is definitely "tweener" time in Green Bay. Oh sure, a minicamp is coming up this weekend. But between now and then...take a breath...perhaps consider attending one of the upcoming events or sending off a donation to support the cause.

If anything of interest pops up in the meantime, you can read about it here. never sleeps!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Driver Gets His Just Reward

Donald Driver, long Brett Favre's #1 go-to guy, is finally getting paid like a #1. Driver and the Packers signed a four-year $17 million contract extension yesterday. Driver had two years left on his existing contract. What this extension in effect did was to re-do the remaining two years and add two more, taking Driver's contract through the 2009 season.

As Packers GM Ted Thompson told the Associated Press, "Donald's a fine player, a real pro, and we're glad he's going to be here a little longer." You bet. Driver is as tough as nails and does whatever is asked of him to make the team better. In last season's injury-plagued season, Driver was the only offensive weapon Favre had available as the season wore on. With everyone in the universe knowing he was the only receiving threat, Driver still finished with 86 catches for 1,221 yards and five touchdowns.

Perhaps it's Driver's humble beginnings and entry into the league as a long-shot seventh-round pick that gives him a perspective and approach that, oh say, a certain unnamed former first-round pick and former Packer doesn't have. With two years left on his contract, and being the most deserving player on the team aside from Favre for a contract extension, Driver did not demand a raise or new contract. In fact, when ESPN's Michael Smith -- he of "softball interview" fame with that other unnamed former Packer receiver -- recently said that Driver was demanding a new contract or a trade, Driver immediately stepped forward to deny that story. Driver said he would never hold out or publicly complain about his contract. GM Thompson was obviously willing to reward Driver for his performance, his loyalty, and his approach to contract negotiations. This is in stark contrast with Thompson's unwillingness to negotiate with that unnamed former Packer, who -- as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pointed out -- "demanded a raise before he demanded a trade."

Players that want to play for the Packers, are persons of character such as Donald Driver, and don't make themselves out to be bigger than the team...these are the types of players that will clearly be rewarded. Others who prefer to whine and threaten holdouts, retirement, etc., as they say as you depart the jet, "Buh-bye now."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Now Here's a Player, Not a Whiner

Unlike the case of the wide receiver who was "disrespected" in Green Bay and threatened hold outs and retirement while still having two years left on his contract, the Packers now have someone in camp that is glad to be there, and you just have to root for him. OK, they actually have quite a few players like that and are blessed in that regard. But undrafted free agent signee Ben Brown is the latest addition to that roster...literally.

Brown is a 6-foot-1, 246-pound fullback from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. Where? Doesn't matter. Brown is apparently one of those hidden gems that college scouting director, John Dorsey, occasionally finds among the 1,000 tapes he sifts through during the course of a year. While recruited by the likes of UCLA and Fresno State, Brown wound up having to go the junior college route for academic purposes. Then he had to quit for three years after the birth of his daughter and the need to support his new family. He was finally able to get back to the game he loved. He found a spot at Tabor College. The coach there says that he easily could have racked up quite a few yards as a tailback. Instead, the team needed a fullback. And Brown wanted to do whatever he could to help the team win. (What a concept! Football is a TEAM sport! How did that unnamed WR miss that part of the idea? Hmmm...)

Anyway, Dorsey liked what he saw on tape and in an on-campus visit. And the Pack was pleased enough with what they saw at their first minicamp to sign Brown and see what he can do in the next camp.

A great story, not unlike that of Samkon Gado. Nice that the Packers seem to have more of these kinds of players than...uh...what was that receiver's name again?

Anyway, you can read more about Brown here. Check it out.

"The Whiner" is Happy...for Now

As everyone now knows, former Packer -- and isn't that nice to say? -- Javon "The Whiner" Walker got his wish for a trade. Packers' GM Ted Thompson granted his wish, and the Pack wound up parlaying one second round draft pick from Denver into a total of five picks overall. In turn, "The Whiner" was able to negotiate a five-year extension to his contract, which goes into effect in 2007, for $40 million.

So, all things considered, "The Whiner" is still playing this season for exactly what he would have been paid in Green Bay. Okaaaaaayyyy...

But, hey, he's out of GB which is what he wanted. No one was exactly clear -- especially after listening to his rambling replies in an interview with ESPN's marginal interviewer, Michael Smith -- what the problem was. Everyone thought it was Brett's comments last year basically telling him -- rightly -- that he had a contract, play and shut up. But no, "The Whiner" said he'd love to play with Brett again...if they were both on another team. Okaaaaaaayyyy...

Then "The Whiner" says there were fellow teammates -- unnamed -- who were gossiping about him and his situation. Awwwwwwwww. He also wasn't happy that there were several players leaving for fatter paychecks while the Packers wouldn't even talk to him about renegotiating his contract. Riiiiiiiight. Apparently the fact that these other players were FREE AGENTS while he wasn't somehow didn't enter into his understanding this part of the football business. Maybe those Wonderlic tests means something after all.

Finally, "The Whiner" gets around to pointing the finger directly at Packers GM Ted Thompson. In a news conference Wednesday where he was all smiles because of his new deal, he said that when he asked about renegotiating, "It was just a flat-out, disrespectful 'No.'" Awwwwwwwww. Disrespected. Yeah, the fact that there were still two years left on your existing contract didn't figure into it at all. It was just disrespect. Okaaaaaaayyyyy...

Interestingly, in an article in today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel regarding his news conference, "The Whiner" said, "I would play with Favre if he went to another team. The thing I liked about him was he gave me a chance to make plays." Ahhhh...Brett gave you a chance to make plays. And now your QB is going to be...Jake Plummer. Jake has his moments. Unfortunately, there are more bad moments than good. So, somehow "The Whiner" thinks that Jake is going to be able to do the things that Brett does. As in, "give me a chance to make plays." Okaaaaaayyyy....

Good luck, Mr. Walker. Enjoy your boatload of cash which you believed you deserved after one standout, Pro Bowl year. Denver apparently believed that, too. There's a sucker born every minute. When money is your only goal, Mr. Walker, as it obviously is, it won't take long before you're unhappy in Denver too. But, hey, they "respected" you with that contract extension...of course, they also held you to exactly the same contract provisions this season as you would have had in Green Bay as they apparently don't respect your repaired leg enough to kick in all that money quite yet.

Whatever. Whine on, Mr. Walker, whine on.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Happy Campers

It was a good Packers minicamp, according to press reports. Happy coaches. Happy GM. Happy players...well, except maybe for Mark Roman who seems to now want to pull a Javon "The Whiner" Walker move and demand to be traded, although there are conflicting stories about that too.

But let's concentrate on the positive. Second-year QB Aaron Rodgers got most of the reps with the first offensive unit and coaches extolled his reads, his arm strength, his movement, his huddle management, etc. Sounds as if he made a good first impression on his new coaches. No mistake, Favre is #1, but sounds as if coaches may be a bit more comfortable with Mr. Rodgers as he settles in as the heir-apparent.

RB Samkon Gado, who came from literally nowhere last year to become a running phenomenon and fan favorite before an injury sidelined him, got a lot of work with the offense as Ahman Green and Najeeh Davenport continue to rehab from their injuries. In a lockerroom interview, Gado said he knows that as soon as Green returns he is the #1 back, but that he is also going to do everything he can to be ready for however the Packers want to use him. Given the Packers new zone blocking scheme, where there is an emphasis on basically making one cut at the line and no more until you hit the open field, Gado could be even more dangerous than he was last year if given the opportunity.

The receiving corps looks to be shaping up more so than some might have expected. Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson are the top two receivers, with Rod Gardner and free agent Marc Boerigter working with the second unit. It was clear, though, that coaches are very impressed with second-round pick Greg Jennings, and that he has a legitimate chance to be the #3 receiver. Other receivers also making impressions were fourth-round pick Cory Rodgers and Leo Bookman, a three-time NCAA 200-meter champion who hasn't played football since 2002 at Kansas. According to Thompson, "He's still learning the game but he's a nice-size kid, looks like he catches the ball pretty good and can run like the wind." In other words, perhaps a practice squad player or a designee for NFL Europe next year...or maybe a contributor this year depending upon how quickly he develops. Anytime you have a 6'2" 213 pound receiver who can run 4.2 gotta hope he can run routes and catch the ball.

The starting offensive line, at least this minicamp, consisted of Will Whitticker at left tackle (only because Chad Clifton sat out with a knee problem and Adrian Klemm suffered a knee injury in the first 45 minutes of Friday's practice), second-round pick Daryn Colledge at left guard, Scott Wells at center, Junius Coston at right guard and Mark Tauscher at right tackle. The Pack also seems to be more happy with their depth on the O-line than in the last few years. Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski believes this unit will do just fine with the new zone blocking scheme. As quoted in the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Jagodzinski said, "Here's the deal. If there's a guy on him, he's blocking him. If no one's on him, he's going to the linebacker. It's not that hard. It's hard to screw that up." OK then...moving on...

Defensive line had Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Corey Williams and Colin Cole rotating at tackle with the No. 1 unit. It's likely that different players will rotate in the starting unit depending upon the opponent.

Linebackers...ah linebackers. An area of mediocrity for more than a few years might fast become the strength of the defense...although an argument could be made that the new defensive backfield could lay claim to that. Starting at weak side LB was A. J. Hawk, who did nothing over the weekend to make coaches question spending the #5 overall pick on him. Veteran Nick Barnett played in the middle with free agent pick up Ben Taylor playing the strong side. Rookie Abdul Hodge backed up Barnett in the middle. The "Voice of the Packers," Wayne Larivee, said on this morning's sports report on WTMJ620 radio that it wouldn't surprise him if, maybe not this year but perhaps next, Barnett would be moved to strong side linebacker and Abdul Hodge could be the man in the middle, with Hawk on the weak side. Larivee said the Packers now have a very good but young linebacking corps. How long has it been since the word "good" let alone "very good" was used to describe the Pack's linebackers? Nice to hear. Will be better to see.

As for the secondary, free agent Charles Woodson replaced Ahmad Carroll across from Al Harris. 'Nough said.

The punting's between ex-Canadian footballer Jon Ryan and B. J. Sander. Each apparently has their weaknesses. Sander's we pretty well know about. Ryan has a booming leg, but apparently needs to work on reducing his catch-to-drop time, as well as working on holding for the field goal kicker...who is...oh yeah, Billy Cundiff (for now). Should be an interesting competition there.

As for returners, Charles Woodson fielded punts along with rookies Greg Jennings, Cory Rodgers and Will Blackmon. Coach McCarthy is very excited about the possibility of Woodson returning punts. Easy to understand. On the other hand, I'm always nervous about putting one of your new and high priced free agents into a position -- i.e., returning punts -- where freaky accidents can and do happen. You got him to play CB and perhaps some offense. Special teams? Yeah, the team could use some help there...but at what possible price?

All in all, a great camp. More greatness ahead! If you want to read a more detailed account of all this, go here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Favre Back, Don't Look for Changes

Brett Favre made it clear in his first press conference since deciding to return to the Packers for the 2006 season that fans shouldn't expect any changes in his game. Although, why some would is beyond me. OK, there was that matter of the 29 interceptions last year. But aside from that...

During a 30-minute press conference held at the Packers first minicamp of the year, Favre said, "I don't regret the way I play or the way I approach it. I don't feel like I should change. For me to change now, it would be time for me to leave." Favre pointed out that circumstances and personnel accounted for his career-low passer ranking (31st in the league). Favre is the eternal gunslinger. And as the saying goes, he who lives by the gun dies by the gun. Last season...well...we know what happened.

New Head Coach Mike McCarthy was quick to point out later on that what Brett was talking about was his aggressiveness not his style. The turnovers were obviously unacceptable regardless of what the circumstances were and who the personnel was. And as far as McCarthy is concerned, Favre is as coachable now as he was when McCarthy was the QB coach back in 1999.

As for the reason he decided to come back for another year, Brett said, "The Packers still want me. I want to be back. Whatever happens, happens. I will always be competitive. I'm going to try to enjoy it as much as I can." Favre also said there's no place he'd rather be competing on Sunday afternoons than Lambeau Field, putting to rest the rumors that he was looking to be traded. As noted here at on more than one occasion, Favre will retire as a Packer...whenever that is. As Brett said, "I know there was a lot of talk about being traded or wanting to play for another team. I told you guys over and over again that I didn't want to play for another team, and that's the truth. This is where I wanted to be the whole time."

As with most things that go on too long, the press conference and Brett both wandered a bit the longer it went on. But if you want to listen to it yourself, you can by clicking here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Few More Undrafted Signings as Minicamp Begins

The Packers have signed four additional undrafted free agents to the roster (in addition to those mentioned in an earlier post), making a total of 12. The new additions include:
Calvin Russell, WR, Tuskegee
Zac Alcorn, TE, Black Hills State
Byron Santiago, LB, Louisiana Tech
Jason Hunter, DE, Appalachian State

Players signed earlier in the week included:
Chris Francies, WR, Texas-El Paso
Arliss Beach, RB, Kentucky
Tra Boger, S, Tulane
Josh Bourke, T, Grand Valley State
Shermar Bracey, RB, Arkansas State
A.J. Cooper, TE, North Dakota State
Tim Goodwell, LB, Memphis
Montez Murphy, DE, Baylor

These players joined the rest of the Packers at today's first official minicamp practice. New Head Coach Mike McCarthy addressed the entire team beforehand to lay out his expectations and plan. During his just completed press conference (carried live via streaming video on he said he told the rookies that he wanted to see competitiveness from them. He said he was pleased with the overall pace and feel of the first practice, and felt that players had gotten his message. Especially encouraging was that Brett Favre was on hnad, practicing and learning a new language for the offense. In video of the practice, and as mentioned by a reporter during the press conference, Favre looked like he was having fun and enjoying himself. Appears as if Brett is glad to be back...and fans are glad he is. Minicamp continues through the weekend.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Verba on His Way Back to Pack?

WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee reported last evening that former Packer OL Ross Verba may be coming to Green Bay for a visit. He was so unhappy with his situation in Cleveland last year that he basically bought his way out of his contract. Now, there may be some mutual interest in him returning to Green Bay. Although he did not leave on the best of terms, most if not all of those involved in his departure are no longer part of team management. As a tried, true and tough lineman, Verba's return could do much to solidify the Packers line going into the season and allow coaches to work their younger players in rather than rush them along. Stay tuned.

Pundits Say: Packers Draft Rates Highly

Even a few days out from this last weekend's draft, the analysis of the overall draft and those teams which did the best continue to roll they will for a long time.'s national editor, Vic Carucci, ranked the Pack at #4 of the "five teams that did the best in the draft." Here's what he had to say:
"By making A.J. Hawk the fifth overall choice, the Packers got more than a linebacker whose phenomenal playmaking skills will instantly improve their defense. They got one of the great character players to emerge from the college ranks in a long time. Hawk's off-the-charts work ethic no doubt will be contagious. The Packers made two strong additions to their offensive line in second-rounder Daryn Colledge (tackle, Boise State) and third-rounder Jason Spitz (center, Louisville). And they picked up the most polished receiver in the draft in second-rounder Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), who could end up being more productive than any of the wideouts selected before him, including Pittsburgh's first-round choice Santonio Holmes (Ohio State)."

You can read the entire rundown on all five of the "best" here.

Packers Additions and Deletions

The days immediately after the NFL Draft are still full of activity for teams. They add players that went undrafted and release players who no longer fit. The Packers have been actively involved in both phases of this process.

On Monday, the Pack released: punter Ryan Flinn, kicker Rhys Lloyd, wide receiver Willie Quinnie and linebacker Robert Thomas. The Packers also announced the official signing of CB Charles Woodson to a multi-year contract, as reported earlier.

The undrafted free agent signings the Packers have completed so far include:
Chris Francies, WR, Texas-El Paso
Arliss Beach, RB, Kentucky
Tra Boger, S, Tulane
Josh Bourke, T, Grand Valley State
Shermar Bracey, RB, Arkansas State
A.J. Cooper, TE, North Dakota State
Tim Goodwell, LB, Memphis
Montez Murphy, DE, Baylor

You can read about each of these players here.

Why take note of these undrafted players? Because approximately 20 percent of the NFL is made up of non-drafted players. Initial take -- looking at them on paper only -- would seem to be that those with the best chances (special teams, practice squad, etc.) are: Francies, Bourke and Goodwell...but it really is a crap shoot, isn't it? And not a big bet on the Packers the roll of the dice here is definitely worth the possible upside on any of these players panning out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rating the Packers Draft

It appears as if outside observers are more generous at rating the Packers' 2006 draft class than are Packers fans themselves. A poll on the Packers official website ( shows the following as of the time of this posting:
Given their picks and the available players, grade the Packers' moves in the 2006 NFL Draft:
A 28%
B 47%
C 11%
D 2%
F 1%
Too early to grade; time will tell. 8%
Votes: 14,790

Yahoo Sports'writer Charles Robinson, in an article grading all teams, however, has the following to say about the Packers picks:
"High marks – The mass of the class is fantastic – 13 total picks, including five in the top 75. Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge should be a great tandem for years to come. Tackle Daryn Colledge and center Jason Spitz should eventually develop into starters. Greg Jennings and Cory Rodgers add depth to the receiving crew and should provide what Terrence Murphy would have if he hadn't been injured. Cornerback/wide receiver Will Blackmon offers flexibility and can also be a return specialist. Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly was a great value selection in the sixth round.

Low marks – The Packers started strong, but dropped off with some reaching in Rounds 5 through 7. Two big ones came in the fifth round: Quarterback Ingle Martin was a seventh-round choice on many boards, and tackle Tony Moll was expected to be an undrafted free agent.

Final grade: A"

For what it's worth, he graded the three other NFC North teams with C's. The Pack was only one of three teams in the NFC he graded out with an A and only one of five in the entire NFL.

The real grade, of course, will come at the end of this 2006 season...when we see what impact these players can really have on helping take the Pack back to the NFC North Division Championship and to the playoffs.

Oh, my response in the poll? What do you think?