I was on the air with CHAD HOLMES @ ESPN Radio 100.5 in Wausau last night and he brought up a plethora of PACKERS questions for discussion. Since there is no posting of the show to send you to I thought I’d summarize some of our topics that might be of interest to PACKERS fans.
We discussed the lack of off-season OTAs and such this year, and whether or not it hurts the PACKERS, or gives them a slight advantage as an experienced, defending Super BOwl squad. Other than teams with new coaching staffs I think the PACKERS as a team will be hurt by the 4+ months of no contact. I say that primarily because under the TED THOMPSON regime this team relies of developing younger players to develop into starters.
Any time they lost that could have spent working with young guys like NICK McDONALD, FRANK ZOMBO, MARSHALL NEWHOUSE, JAMES STARKS, et al (not to mention their Rookies) can’t be regained. And progress lost, though hard to gauge, is a consequence of the Lockout. If the team should suffer through an injury plagued campaign such as last year, then time not spent developing these back-ups could be felt on the field of play.
I reiterated that i felt the two places the PACKERS face a personnel challenge this season could be the DL and ILB positions. AFter HAWK & BISHOP I see ROBERT FRANCOIS & D.J. SMITH (R) as the next men up. I see lots to like abut both these young guys, but i am not sure how effective they would be if called upon to play a lot early in the season because of injury to the starters.
Between knucklehead JOLLY and VFA loss JENKINS I am also a bit concerned about the DL rotation. That has become especially true with early injury issues with MIKE NEAL who was slotted to start in place of JENKINS. “next Man Up” is the football rallying cry, but right now HOWARD GREEN, JARIUS WYNN & LAWRENCE GUY don’t look like fill-in candidates that inspire Super Bowl repeat visions in my head.
CHAD wondered if I felt RYAN GRANT was still the man at RB, or if he would see diminished touches in deference to STARKS & ALEX GREEN (R). I feel pretty strongly that GRANT is the man if healthy. STARKS & GREEN should see the field and touch the ball, but i think those two guys are primarily fighting for the JACKSON role as the 3rd Down RB. ALso don’t forget that JOHN KUHN, though realistically a FB type, could see some regular touches once the team gets inside the 10-yard line.
A hot button topic also seems to be whether or not the team should trade MATT FLYNN, and what his trade value might be at this point. I think PACKERS fans are overrating his value around the league right now. He has improved greatly in his 3 years in Green Bay, but he has thrown a total of 83 passes in his NFL career. There would be some teams out there willing to acquire his potential, but I’d be pleasantly surprised to get anything more than a Round 4 DRAFT Pick.
More importantly, if A-RODGE goes down, after FLYNN has been traded, exactly who is going to [play QB for the PACK? I have not heard any proclamations from MIKE McC that GRAHAM HARRELL is ready to start in the NFL… yet. A Play-Off team has got to have a solid back-up in place to keep the train from leaving the tracks completely if their starting QB goes down for more than a week. I cannot imagine MATT FLYNN not being on the roster come September.
We discussed the Rookie impact of RANDALL COBB for the 2011 season. GIven the Lockout residue i would be surprised if we see Mike McC slot in much, if any, Wildcat type plays for COBB this season. I think his main role will be as a Punt Returner, where he could be a huge upgrade over recent guys trying to fill that role. He should also see some time as a slot receiver, and touch the ball on reverse type action, maybe even with the pass option being a reasonable possibility. I can’t see him moving past DRIVER, JENNINGS, JONES &NELSON, but injuries do happen an guys miss playing time. They will try to get him as ready as possible to step in/up when the time comes.
I also expressed fascination, and anticipation, with the weapon potential of D.J. WILLIAMS, whom I see as a very versatile and fascinating “toy” for McCARTHY to blend into his Offense. I love WILLIAMS hands, speed for his size, and attitude toward the game of football. He should fit well into the locker room ,and perhaps out on the grass sooner than many people think. I’ll be watching D.J. closely over the next month, and hopefully beyond.
I have been wondering since the DRAFT, who the PACK was grooming to replace SCOTT WELLS at the OC position. They have tried to groom replacements for him pretty much since WHITEY came to town but between WELLS’ determination, and injuries to his would-be challengers he is still the starter and doing a better than adequate job. But he is undersized, and now 30-years old, neither of which is a good thing in WHITEY’s world.
I know the current depth chart lists NICK McDONALD as being in the battle for an OG slot, but I still have the feeling he is the projected starter at OC for 2012. And don’t tell me they aren’t thinking of next season yet. TED THOMPSON is always looking years down the road, when it come to personnel issues.
We ran out of time to discuss players I felt might surprise a lot of fans, and make strong roster pushes this month. WE can get into more detail later, but here are my 6 surprise roster contenders for you:
JOSH GORDY/CB Yr 2
RAY DOMINQUEZ/OL RFA
TORI GURLEY/WR RFA
‘PEANUT’ JOSEPH/ILB RFA
SHAKY SMITHSON/WR/PR RFA
VIC SO’OTO/OLB RFA
I am not including Drafted Rookies or vets who actually spent time on the active roster last year. Let’s see how this list holds up over 3 more weeks of Pre-Season.
And one other thing to keep in mind. Even though this team is a defending Super Bowl champ don’t be surprised when they are still one of the youngest rosters in the League come September. WHITEY jettisoned 20 players, most of them seasoned vets, off the PACKERS roster right after the CBA was signed.
That was to make room for another strong group of 16 Rookie Free Agents to go along with 10 Draftees. Combine that with another 18 second-year men and you already account for about 50% of the entire Training Camp roster. Mark my words… there will more vet names to appear on cut lists for this team between now and September. Youth will prevail, and fuel a very hungry team going into the 2011 season.