Monday, August 31, 2009

Pack vs Cards wrap up ... and more!

As has been the case all through the preseason, the Packers' first string offensive and defensive units were once again outstanding in the team's victory over the Cardinals Friday night. If you didn't see the game or hear it on the radio you've no doubt read the details by now. So no need to rehash what is now old news. The Pack kicked butt. The final score was in no way reflective of what the first stringers did. All we can hope as fans is that the team isn't peaking in preseason. And that the players that sustained injuries are ready to go for the season opener against Da Bearz.

At the top of that list, of course, is receiver Greg Jennings who was the subject of a nasty sandwich tackle. He was back in uniform, but mostly on the sidelines at Sunday's practice, according to reports. His prognosis is good, although coach McCarthy has already said Jennings will not play in Thursday night's game versus the Titans. Good decision. Will Blackmon and Brandon Jackson are also likely to sit out this upcoming game. Mike Montgomery might be able to play with his broken hand, but no decision for sure yet.

The Packers also released 3 players over the weekend, with the most notable name being punter Durant Brooks. Brooks, as you may recall, was supposed to be in a heated battle for the punting job with Jeremy Kapinos. But Brooks had essentially been out of the running with a hip injury since the second preseason game.

Backup QB Matt Flynn, who was held out of Friday's game because of his shoulder sprain, threw a little bit Sunday and hopes to be able to play Thursday.

Barring any additional injuries in the final exhibition game -- and don't expect most starters to play very long or at all -- the Packers can head into that season home opener against Da Bearz feeling very good about what they have achieved so far. The thing to remember about that, though, is that none of that counts. Game 1 versus Chicago is where the road to the playoffs begins!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pack vs. Cards preview

The Pack goes to the Arizona desert tonight where the temperature today is supposed to be 114 degrees. But it's a dry heat.

Luckily, the game will be played indoors, where the temp will be modified juuuuusssst a bit.

What Packer fans are interested in seeing, though, is the temperature of the team. The third preseason game is typically viewed as the real final warm up before the regular season starts. Sure, there is one final preseason game. But some starters won't see any action at all in that game, or perhaps only a few tune up snaps. Don't want to risk injury, of course. Generally, that last game is a chance for the team to make their final determinations on bubble players. You know, those rookies, free agents and even veterans that just might not fit the Packers' plans, or find a spot on a highly competitive roster.

But back to tonight. Fans want to know whether or not the starting defense is for real. They haven't allowed a point in two preseason games while they have been on the field as a unit. OK, they've played the Browns and Bills, but still...

But against the NFC representative to last year's Super Bowl, it will be a bit different. The Pack's defense won't be a surprise to the Cardinals, as both the head coach and their running game coordinator come from the Steelers, where the 3-4 scheme arguably originated. And let's not forget the Cards starting QB is a grizzled veteran by the name of Kurt Warner, who has seen a few things in his day. Including regularly facing the 3-4 in practice.

So, this will be a good test of whether the defense is really as together as it has seemed to be, or whether they are pretenders at this point. Should be interesting.

As to the offensive side of things, head coach Mike McCarthy named his starting five linemen earlier this week. From left to right: Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, and Allen Barbre. McCarthy wants some continuity there, rather than the shuffling that has gone on the last few seasons. He also wants some size. While still focused on the zone running scheme, the staff has apparently recognized they also need some power blocking...particularly when the majority of the running backs are primarily "north-south" type runners; rookie free agent Tyrell Sutton being the real lone exception to the rule (and a good reason to keep him on the roster!).

Back up QB Brian Brohm will once again see plenty of action tonight as #2 back up Matt Flynn will be sitting this one out with the shoulder sprain suffered in last week's game. Brohm needs to have a productive game to perhaps retain his roster spot. Rumors have been circulating that the Packers have an interest in Tampa Bay's back up, Luke McCown. Whether the Packers would go with just 2 QBs on the final roster or whether they'd release Brohm and try to pick up McCown we'll have to wait to see.

Should be an interesting game tonight. Especially with first cuts coming up soon.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pack beats Bills 31-21

First of all, the game was not anywhere as close as the final score might seem to indicate. The Packers starters and primary backups clearly dominated when they were in the game.

Even the Pack's back up defensive players didn't allow any points to the Bills until near the end of the 3rd quarter. And then from there, they gave up 3 TDs total. A bit sloppy, but again, these are guys that are down on the depth chart.

It took a while in the second half before the Pack started to generate any offense. QB Brian Brohm continued to be ineffective and was relieved along the way by the main backup QB, Matt Flynn. However, in the 4th quarter, Flynn was injured when he was blindsided on a throw, having his arm hit going forward as he was just about to release the ball. He was also driven down to the ground on the play. He was shown on the sidelines with his right shoulder wrapped in ice. Keep your fingers crossed that it is nothing serious. The Packers definitely do not need to lose Flynn at this time. Brohm then returned to the game and eventually engineered a nice drive, which was finished off on a 3-yard TD run by rookie free agent RB Tyrell Sutton, who continues to impress.

Another injury of the second half looked more serious. It appeared that rookie free agent TE Devin Frischknecht suffered a serious leg injury. An inflatable leg thingie (yes, that's the official medical term for it) was placed on his leg and he was carted off the field. He was a long shot to make the team, but you hate to see a young man's career postponed or ended before it even really begins.

So, the bottom line: lookin' good. Very good.

Pack vs. Bills halftime observations: 24-0

As was the case with the first preseason game, the Packers looked incredibly sharp in the first half of tonight's game versus the Bills. On both sides of the ball. They played with the same up-tempo feel and physicality as was the case last week. The starting units looked good. Aaron Rodgers threw for 2 touchdowns. He was 8 of 9 for almost 100 yards. Ryan Grant rushed well, and also garnered a TD rushing. The defense matched the entire number of turnovers last week in tonight's first half: 4, resulting in 17 points. The Bills never had an offensive play on the Packers' side of the field the entire half.

First round draft pick B. J. Raji made his first game appearance and made his presence known. Used at defensive end in sets with Ryan Pickett and/or Johnny Jolly, as well as at nose tackle, Raji was on occasion driving linemen into the backfield and helping disrupt plays. Once again, linebacker Desmond Bishop was also making an impact.

The only downside was safety Nick Collins walking to the locker room about midway through the 2nd quarter with one of the trainers. The early report was that he was going for X-rays on his ribs.

The other negative, not so much for the team as for a player, was the play of 3rd string QB Brian Brohm. Brohm came in in relief of Rodgers in the 2nd quarter. The coaches obviously wanted to give him the opportunity to play with some of the starting weapons or their immediate backups. As TV commentator and former MVP quarterback Rich Gannon said, Brohm just doesn't seem to be playing with much confidence. He had a few good passes, but at times just seemed confused. He also overthrew a receiver leading to the Pack's only turnover. That totals 3 INTs for Brohm in his play so far this preseason. There has been some media discussion that Brohm could be on the chopping block somewhere along the way if he doesn't raise his level of performance.

This is a good team, fans. A very good team. And it is deep at many positions. The staff will have some hard decisions to make come cut time. But in the meantime, we get to look at some new, young players trying to make the squad.

So, without further ado...let's return to the start of the 2nd half.

Go Pack Go!!!

Pack vs. Bills Preview

The Buffalo Bills come to Lambeau Field tonight. Shouldn't two teams like this really match up in, say, December? Would be more fitting. Still, it will be interesting to see how the Pack deals with the Bills' no-huddle offense. Will be a pity fans can't boo Bills receiver Terrell Owens on the field, though. T.O.'s got a bad toe. Guess those present can still heckle him on the sidelines, of course. Not that I'd ever suggest that kind of behavior.

On the Packers side of things, it will be our first chance to see B. J. Raji in action. He still won't be in full game shape after only about six practices but it would be reasonable to assume he'd get a fair number of plays in. The Pack's other first round pick, LB Clay Matthews, is not expected to play; still nursing that hamstring injury that fellow poster "Winning is the Only Thing" mentioned yesterday.

A few other things to watch for:
  • The return of Al Harris and Charles Woodson (although one wouldn't expect them to be used too much).

  • The play of the offensive line as coaches still attempt to get the best five players on the field, especially at right tackle.

  • The use of rookie RB Tyrell Sutton and whether he can repeat his excellent performance of last week.

  • How the new 3-4 defensive scheme continues to evolve and how it responds to the no-huddle offense of the Bills.

  • Whether 3rd string QB (and last year's 2nd round draft pick) Brian Brohm can do something to save his roster spot. Will GM Ted Thompson give up so quickly on a high pick? Some seem to think that to-date Brohm hasn't done much to warrant keeping. And backup Matt Flynn has done nothing but solidify his standing as #2 to Aaron Rodgers.

Favre makes his funky purple debut
In case anyone still cares, Ol' #4 donned the funky purple and horns (or whatever they are) last night for the first time. He was 1 for 4 for 4 yards against the Chiefs. Got hit a few times. Nothing extraordinary one way or the other. What do you expect after just a couple days of practice? Still, a pretty surreal image for Packers fans.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Hey Packers..." articles and more

I found this guy at "Bleacher Report" who is fascinated with the Packers and has written several articles that are sort of fun to read. The archive of all his articles is at the first link, and then his most recent of what will be four "Hey Packers..." articles is at the second link.

Bad news about A. Rouse and his hamstring. I hate hamstring injuries, especially the ones I have suffered. The Packer hamstring injuries are in second place. How about listing the most crucial and untimely hamstring injuries for the Packers in recent history? I'll start with the nagging one for rookie Clay Matthews. He needs to be on the field! Which ones nag your memory?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Defense Analysis

I am excited about the Packer defense this year. I can feel good vibes over here in De Pere. Capers just seems like such a professional with great credibility that I think the players can't help but follow him. I like the new assistants as well.

Some of you may find the analysis at the following link to be entertaining if not useful. This guy seems to enjoy the Packers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fans get creative with Favre the ViQueen - Part 2

A while back -- oh, who knows, it could have been just a month ago with the twists and turns in this story -- I shared a link with you to a photo gallery on the site. They had invited readers to share their photos of Brett Favre as a ViQueen. Well, it's only gotten better...especially with more recent developments -- a-hem.

Check out the images here. Worth a look and a laugh.

The Ego Has Landed
Wish I could take credit for that line. It's a great one in the context of things. But credit has to go to sports writer Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. That line gives you a clue about Hunt's opinion of Favre's signing by the ViQueens. But you have to read the rest of the column to get a real feel for things. Hunt is a great writer, and he does a great job of covering this particular terrain. Check it out here.

Colbert says...
Even Stephen Colbert weighed in on the Favre signing during the intro to his show, The Colbert Report, last night, saying Favre has the NFL record for "incomplete retirements." Well done, Mr. Colbert, well done!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thus Spake ZaraFavre

Yes, a bit of stretch in that headline. But at this point in the Favre un-un-retirement circus, a little creative license is allowed. And, to be honest, the original by Nietzsche (as in Friedrich, not Ray, as in Nitschke), "Thus Spake Zarathustra," even addresses such things as the "eternal recurrence of the same". Sound familiar? The eternal recurrence of the same. Retired. Not. Retired. Not. Etc. Etc.

But if you are interested in hearing what Ol' #4 had to say on the occasion of this latest recurrence of un-retirement, check out this video of his press conference from today.

There are, of course, already any number of comments and commentary on Favre and every aspect of this signing with the ViQueens. One of the articles which seems to hit it on the head best, though, is this one by Gene Wojciechowski of He notes that the minute Favre signed his deal with the 'Queens and put on that funky purple he became the football equivalent of the character Fredo in "The Godfather: Part II." Fredo is the one that betrays the family. As Wojciechowski says, "Packers fans became Michael Corleone, who tells his kid brother, 'Fredo, you're nothing to me now.'"

Well, perhaps that is an overstatement. Favre certainly will always mean something to Packer fans. You can't erase 16 years of excitement and championships. But, unfortunately, that's not all that Brett will now mean to Packer fans. We will remember how for several years he played a waiting game in the Spring before saying if he would or wouldn't play again. Then when he finally said, in a tear-filled press conference, that he just didn't have it any more and was hanging up the cleats for good, the Packers moved on. Then Brett changed his mind. And the know. You will never forget.

So, while Brett may or may not be "nothing" to Packer fans now that he's putting on the horns or whatever those things are on the 'Queens helmets, he isn't what he was. Yep, he'll be in the NFL Hall of Fame, the Packer Hall of Fame, and probably even have his name up in the Lambeau Field ring of honor at some point. But it won't be the same.

As Wojciechowsk says in his commentary, Favre "knows there are green-and-gold die-hards who will never forgive him for wearing a Vikings uni. The only thing worse would be seeing him wear the Bears' navy blue."

At least he's got that going for him. But sure isn't much, is it?

Brett's ViQueens saga begins

Ol' #4 practiced with the ViQueens today after his morning flight from Hattiesburg and signing a deal reported to be between $10 million and $12 million. He will start Friday's game against...ah, who cares...

Favre will hold a new conference at 5 p.m. Central time today regarding his signing. It will be carried live by ESPN and interested local market channels.

Brett, Brett, Brett. You wanted to come back to stick it to Ted Thompson. Now you'll have your chance. But that new 3-4 defense the Packers are implementing is guaranteed to give you fits. You aren't moving the way you did 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Your end-of-season performances the last several seasons also ain't what they used to be. Still, the presumption is that the ViQueens are now the team to beat in the NFC North. OK. Fine. Good luck with that. There are now a lot of Packer fans who will be more than happy to see the Pack's #12 and company beat Ol' #4 and the purple folks. And not just beat 'em: embarrass 'em. A lesson in humility at the age of about 40 seems overdue, but better late than never.

Brett in that funky purple. Yup. How sad. But very appropriate when one is going to be eating humble pie.

Breaking News: Favre will un-un-retire; on his way to ViQueens

BREAKING NEWS: A report by WISN-TV in Milwaukee says that a ViQueens plane has just left Hattiesburg, MS with Brett Favre and his wife Deanna aboard. Sounds as if something has finally gotten serious. So watch for more here later. Doesn't sound as if this is a sightseeing trip.

No doubt you heard the word yesterday that Jay Glazer from was reporting that his contacts with the ViQueens seemed to all be pointing to Ol' #4 still coming out of his second retirement to join their club. Some players were even saying it's a done deal and Brett would be on the roster by the third preseason game. Turns out it might be sooner than that. If you haven't yet been bored to tears by this whole thing, check out Glazer's report here.

Harrell done?
Despite what apparently was a successful bit of physical rehab and early camp, defensive lineman Justin Harrell may finally be hitting the end of his very short and potholed road with the Packers (was that a bit of a strained metaphor? sorry). The latest reports out of Green Bay, as reported by both the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Green Bay Press-Gazette, are that the supposed back spasms which Harrell began experiencing recently really are renewed problems with the herniated disc in his lower back. He's already had two surgeries on this disc, the last of which, doctors told him, would make the odds of him continuing his football career very slim indeed. But he didn't see much of a choice then. Now looking at the possibility of a third procedure...well, it isn't looking good.

The Packers are literally scouring the planet to see if they can find a solution to help save the young man's career and salvage what most fans thought at the time was a wasted first round draft pick. And Harrell, to his credit, wants to do whatever he can to also continue his career. But the odds are against him. And getting worse.

You can read more about Harrell here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Packrphan - We count on you

Hey Packrphan, nice updates and the links are more useful than ever. I made an update, too, by getting rid of my old signature: "Remember when Favre..." to a more traditional one (see below). I don't want to remember much about Favre for a couple of more years. He still owes his fans, even if he is disturbed by Packer administration.

I missed the preseason game as I was in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune had a short line about the game in the Sunday paper. Thanks for your details. Keep up the good work. I will be watching! By the way, the Chicago press was as concerned about how the Bears played against Buffalo as they were with the fact that Orton threw three interceptions in his Bronco debut. They are hopeful about Cutler, but he did nothing in their opener. The Bears Still Suck!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pack beats Browns 17-0

The Packers possessed the ball for approximately 40 out of 60 minutes of tonight's game against Cleveland, prevailing by a score of 17-0. It was total domination on the both sides of the ball by the Pack. Aaron Rodgers threw for a 53-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver on the first drive of the game. Ryan Grant scored on a short TD run on the next possession. The Packers got three more points in the second half courtesy of a 45-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Crosby had missed a 60-yarder and 55-yarder in the first half.

The debut of Dom Capers' new 3-4 defensive scheme was a success. At least for a preseason game. It seemed to be able to generate pressure from a lot of angles, resulting in several sacks and four interceptions off Cleveland QBs.

The tone and pace of the game also favored the Packers. They seemed to be in better condition, played at a faster pace, and showed more intensity on both sides of the ball than the Browns.

One of the nice surprises of the second half was the play of rookie free agent running back Tyrell Sutton, who rushed for more than 90 yards on 17 carries. The team as a whole gained more than 200 yards rushing tonight.

An area of concern for the Packers so far in the preseason has been the punting game. They didn't really get a chance to evaluate much in tonight's game, punting only once.

The Packers weren't perfect. Backup QB Brian Brohm threw two interceptions, and the team had far too many penalties, primarily with the back ups on the field.

But for the first game, you had to like what you saw tonight. The Packers clearly have a lot of offensive weapons and plenty of manpower on defense. The catch for the Pack is that with the depth they have on both sides of the ball there will be some difficult cuts coming down the road. That's a good problem to have. And it bodes well for the season as a whole.

It's good to have that winning feeling...again. housekeeping

Now that the preseason season -- well, you know what I mean -- is upon us, thought it was time to do a little housekeeping here at the site. To that end, a few minor tweaks to the "Links" and "Blogs to Check Out" areas in the righthand column have been made. Some link URLs had been changed by their own site administrators or were no longer available at all. So if you experienced broken links before, all should be well now (btw, if you find a broken link before we do please feel free to email us). Sorry for any inconveniences you might have experienced.

Also, just a quick reminder to please visit the sites in the "Organizations to Consider Supporting" banner area in the righthand column. What you decide to do from there is of course up to you. Yes, I know, these are not Packers or football related sites. But not everything in life revolves around football...or so I've heard. Set aside your skepticism on that point for a moment and click away. Do yourself and our world some good. Then you can get back to your brats and the beverage of your choice.

That's all for now. Check back later today (or tomorrow?) for a review of the Pack's performance in tonight's game versus the Browns.

Man, it's good to be talking football again!

Go Pack Go!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Raji has returned to the building...

After 13 days of missed training camp and, perhaps more importantly, finally leaving Green Bay for about two days, it appears the deal between Packers' first round pick B. J. Raji and the team is imminent.

According to a report in today's edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by sportswriters Tom Silverstein and Greg A. Bedard, the deal is for five years and $28.5 million, with nearly $18 million of that guaranteed. (Can you say, "It's good to be a high first round pick!"?)

The deal is not done yet, but it seems as if some fine tuning on parts of the contract will have Raji in a position today to sign.

As noted in a post here yesterday, Raji had left Green Bay just a few days ago. It appeared as if that move would be a prelude to a long hold out. But whether that departure by Raji jump started things or the Packers decided it was time to get the #9 overall pick in camp, something happened to accelerate the process. Perhaps the injury status of other D-linemen, Justin Harrell and Johnny Jolly, got the Pack motivated to get Raji in.

While he obviously will not play in tomorrow night's game versus Cleveland, he will have 3 preseason games to get ready for the season. But he'll have some work to do to get ready for the preseason games, too. Things like practice in pads, for example. He's missed a lot of snaps. So expect the Packers to try to accelerate his prep. They want him to start at left end and back up Ryan Picket at nose tackle in the 3-4. When the scheme moves to a 4-3, they want Raji in the middle as well.

Glad the deal is getting done and Raji will be back in Green Bay and finally on the practice field.

You can read more details here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An anniversary...

In the wide, wide world of sports today is a day that is distinctive for Gene Sarazen winning the 16th PGA Championship in 1933 at Blue Mound CC in Milwaukee.

Oh, today is also the anniversary of this blog!

Yep, this ongoing ode to all things Packers got its humble start on this date -- Aug. 13 -- in 2005.

Just thought you'd want to know. So to all you faithful readers out there, thanks for continuing to stop in. And for any new readers, welcome. To one and all, please help spread the word about this little corner of the Packers blogosphere. As the NFL preseason is about to commence, followed by the absolute best sports season of every year, we'll try to provide timely -- or at least, insightful -- news, links, commentary, etc. when it seems worth saying. And you can always find links to other great Packers-related sites, headlines, and even our very own shop where you can, well, shop. So please do!

Happy Anniversary! (Somebody had to say it.)

Training camp bits & pieces
Most of this probably doesn't come as any shock to those who follow the Packers closely, but for the casual observer let's just say that there is a bit of concern about the number of walking wounded in camp these days. Early in the week, the Pack had 12 guys on the sidelines with various injuries. That includes the promising but oft-injured TE Tory Humphrey who broke his arm in practice last week; the Packers have placed him on injured reserve which -- along with the surgery required -- likely ends his season before it starts. Humphrey missed part of 2006 with a hamstring injury and all of 2007 with a broken leg. He caught 11 passes in the 2008 season -- the best in his career. Now, done again.

Another promising but oft-injured player is DeShawn Wynn. As reported here and elsewhere, the feeling among several camp observers was that Wynn was finally starting to flash the potential the Pack thought they had when they drafted him a few years back. But there were always raps on his work ethic and willingness to play through injuries. He was out with a bruised knee for a few days but apparently returned to practice today. There is some speculation that he may have passed Brandon Jackson as the primary back up to Ryan Grant. Some guys are injury prone, while others may think they are. If Wynn is able to shake the latter tag -- for himself as much as anyone else -- he could have a dynamite year. Keep your fingers crossed.

And it should come as no surprise -- as much as one really wants to root for the young man -- that Justin Harrell is once again nursing a sore back. On Tuesday, Coach McCarthy, according to news reports, indicated that Harrell would be out indefinitely. But as Green Bay Press-Gazette sportswriter Mike Vandermause said in his column yesterday, no matter what happens this season, the Packers might as well give him one more season to run out his contract on the outside chance they could perhaps get something for him along the way. Check out his column here. It's not Harrell's fault he can't stay healthy. It was and is Ted Thompson's fault for reaching for a player with a history of injury in college and drafting him #16 in the first round. This one will likely go down right alongside former GM/coach Mike Sherman's pick in 2001 of Jamal Reynolds as one of the biggest first round failures in Packers' history...let's not even mention Tony Mandarich...oops, dang!

Raji has left the building
Actually, the Packers' first round pick, B. J. Raji, has done more than that. Raji has reportedly left Green Bay, with all signs pointing to a lengthy hold out. He's not the only first-rounder yet to be signed. But given that a few are right around his #9 slot it seems as if both he and the Packers are willing to take their chances and wait for the salary bar to be set elsewhere rather than in Green Bay. It's not as critical for defensive players to be in on time as it would be for an offensive player. But as every fan knows, the longer any rookie is out of camp the less likely it is that they will perform as expected their first year. The one thing that you don't want to see happen is an entirely wasted season. I don't believe the Packers will allow that to happen. It's still a waiting game. But at some point, someone needs to blink. Let's hope they get this done soon. There are a number of injuries along the defensive line at the moment and the Packers could use Raji not only to get some reps but to get into game shape and condition before the season officially kicks off with that Sunday night game versus Da Bearz.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Training camp insights

It has finally arrived, Packer fans: summer training camp! As most all of you know, workouts began Saturday. Reports out of Green Bay are that in the first few practices things appear to be much more physical on both sides of the ball than in prior camps under head coach Mike McCarthy. Certainly this was a weakness the past season. Perhaps new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, long known as a task master, has something to do with it. In fact, it has been reported by on-site observers that the defensive play is making the offense play with a more physical approach, as well. That can only bode well long-term.

There were even reports of a few tussles here and there between some offensive and defensive linemen. Nothing serious. Just enough shirt grabbing, etc. to demonstrate an intensity that might not have been there last year. Defensive players seem to be jumping on board the new 3-4 scheme. Al Harris has noted that the team definitely has the players to make the scheme work. Others have said that they enjoy playing in a scheme that has some unpredictability to it...something that couldn't be said last season. The only member of the defense remaining unsigned is first round pick B. J. Raji. He's a lineman, so not critical he be in at the moment. He is in Green Bay, according to fellow first-rounder, Clay Matthews, and is itching to get to camp. But until some of the other first rounders sign and set salary ranges don't expect much movement soon. If he can get into camp at least a week before the first preseason game (Aug. 15), he should be able to play in that game.

On the offensive side of things, the main goal of the camp is to settle on a starting line. So there is still a bit of shuffling going on, with perhaps the main competition coming at center where incumbent Scott Wells is in a battle with Jason Spitz for the starting job.

While Ryan Grant is still the starting running back, there is strong competition for that "change of pace" back the Packers haven't really seen much of the last few years. Brandon Jackson showed flashes late last season. Third-year back, DeShawn Wynn has come in a bit lighter than past camps; whether he can finally demonstrate the toughness to go with his speed remains to be seen. Rookie free agent Tyrell Sutton out of Northwestern is apparently also showing great speed on the field and, according to radio voice of the Packers, Wayne Larrivee, has the smarts to pick up blocking assignments, etc., and could make a real push to be part of the final roster. Rookie fullback Quinn Johnson has reportedly been delivery crushing blocks. And speaking of blocks, and back to the more physical nature of camp so far, offensive linemen have been sustaining blocks as far as 10 yards downfield, whereas in the past perhaps a 5 yard push would have been the extent of things.

On the receiving side, the Pack retains one of the best receiving groups in the league. Yay! And, as we saw last year, we have a QB in Aaron Rodgers that can get the ball to them anywhere on the field. Perhaps this year that will also include more catches by second-year TE Jermichael Finley. Putting behind him a dismal rookie season in which he basically didn't understand what it took to be a pro, Finley is saying all the right things this year, as well as so far bringing that new attitude to the practice field. If the Pack can continue to operate at the same high level it did last year with the wide receivers, get the running game going, and then toss in a real tight end oh man! It's an offense that could create real havoc on opposing defenses.

Apparently the only area of the squad at present that seems to be a problem is punting. So what else is new, right? That has basically been the case since Craig Hentrich was allowed to shuffle off to Tennessee in 1997. Old news, true. But not being able to (a) find a reliable punter and/or (b) keep him, has been an ongoing problem. Neither Durant Brooks or Jeremy Kapinos seems to be pleasing coach McCarthy. And the problem is, there really aren't many alternatives at the moment. Keep your fingers crossed on this front.

Just a word about Justin
That would of course be a reference to former first round pick, Justin Harrell. He was a surprise choice at #16 three seasons ago. And his entire career at this point with the Packers has essentially been one of injury.

By all reports, Harrell is a fine young man and would be a real asset on the field...if he is healthy. Perhaps for the first time since he's been in Green Bay, that might finally be the case. At least he is on the practice field and is what coach McCarthy calls "a full-go participant." It would be great to see him live up to his potential, or even come close, for that matter.

If you want to get a better appreciation for the trials he's been through physically, as well as the work he's put in to get back on the field this summer, check out this great article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It's worth the read. Good luck, kid. Hope it works out for you...and the Packers.