So, what has been going on? Get a cuppa java and settle in...this is gonna take a while...
The Packers -- as a sign of their total desperation in the punting game -- last week signed an Australian Rules Football player who has never played a down of American football. Now, some might argue that even veteran NFL punters have never played a down of American football either, but that's a whole other conversation. Since totally botching the punter position by releasing Jon Ryan virtually on the eve of the start of the 2008 season, the Packers have been mired in mediocrity at the position. (It might also be noted that Ryan has gone on to have two good seasons in Seattle and recently signed a multi-year deal with them.)
The fact is, there are just not that many quality free agent punters available at the moment, and the college ranks coming into the draft also don't look compelling...and do we really want a reprise of Mike Sherman's third-round draft debacle of B. J. Sander? So, when all else fails, look down under...no, not there! Australia, mate...put another shrimp on the barbie...Fosters "Australian for beer", etc.
So who is this Aussie? Chris Bryan, a 28-year-old left-footer. He joins Tim Masthay, 23, another left-footer free agent the Packers also picked up recently. Masthay was in camp with Indianapolis in 2009 but didn't even kick in an exhibition game. So, things don't look promising for this aspect of the game at present. If you care to be even more depressed about this than I've already made you, you can read more here. If you wish to read about coach Mike McCarthy's optimistic take on the situation, then check out this article.
Draft order set
The NFL draft will take place over not just two days any longer, but three, starting with a Thursday evening primetime extravaganza. It's all about the dollars, kids, as if there was ever any doubt about that. Here's the Packers' picks during the April 22-24 marathon (btw, I apologize in advance if the table spacing doesn't appear correctly in your browser...keep scrolling...it's there...really):
McCarthy talks O-line
It's not like that is surprising, is it? Head Coach Mike McCarthy has been answering questions about the offensive line ever since he's been at the helm of the Packers. No different this season. At the NFL Owners meeting, McCarthy talked about the offensive line. Check out his comments here.
Pack gets compensatory pick
The NFL awarded the Packers a fifth-round selection, No. 169 overall, as compensation for the loss of nose tackle Colin Cole to the Seattle Seahawks last year. It's the first time in two years the Packers have been awarded a compensatory pick.
Touchdown Havner down?
Linebacker/tight end touchdown maker, Spencer Havner, was recently in a motorcycle accident in California and suffered a broken shoulder bone. Packers medical staff hasn't been able to evaluate him yet because Havner hasn't been able to travel. To complicate the matter further, Havner was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Although no charges have yet been filed, they are apparently under consideration by the district attorney's office in that particular jurisdiction. You can read more here.
Owners make OT rule changes
You've no doubt heard about the so-called "Favre rule" coming to post-season overtimes near you. Some sports pundits speculate that the impetus for the change this year was because the ViQueens lost in overtime in the NFC Championship game. Yes, we all know that all Ol' #4 had to do was take a knee near the end of regulation and Ryan Longwell would have booted them into the Super Bowl. But...well...given a choice between doing what makes sense and being a gunslinger...yep. So, the owners finally decided to make some changes. Currently, these changes only apply to post-season games. But they may review the rule further for regular season play, as well. And, interestingly, the 'Queens were one of only four teams to vote against the rule change; go figure.
Here are the changes approved for 2010 post-season overtime games:
• Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.
• If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.
• If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period's] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.