I could have easily titled this post “Brandon Saine: The New Brandon Jackson?” or “Brandon Saine Could Be Packers Third Down Back,” because that’s exactly what he’s shaping up to be. Though, in all fairness, I actually think he could be better than Jackson used to be.
Saine was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State. Though he was released in the final cuts, the Packers signed him to the practice squad, where he stayed until being promoted to the active roster halfway through the season. His first significant appearance came in the Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Detroit Lions, and Saine would later go on to see some significant playing time against the New York Giants and the Lions rematch.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, these are some of the stats for Saine in the seven games he appeared in:
|Yds. / Attempt||3.8|
|Yds. / Reception||6.9|
|Yards After Catch||78|
|YAC / Reception||7.8|
When I went back to watch some of the game film from last year, I focused on Saine’s two prominent appearances: Week 13 vs. Giants and Week 17 vs. Lions. The thing to jump out at me first was his ability to pick up the blitz.
While there wasn’t a large sample size to work with in regards to pass protection, you have to enjoy seeing him crack the extra pass rusher like he did there. He meets the linebacker dead on, with good timing, and stays low to maintain leverage.
Side Note: The single sack allowed by Saine last season was in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against New York. It came in the fourth quarter against a fast edge rush by OLB Michael Boley that just so happened to get the better of James Starks earlier in the game on the same move and also for a sack. Not an excuse, but it is noteworthy.
It just so happens that the next play in the drive highlights a few things about Saine that I really like in the passing game. Take a look:
Saine is their biggest weapon in the screen game, if you ask me. Not only does he sell the screen very well, but his timing is also impeccable. There were a couple other screens he ran during the season that demonstrated the exact same traits, too. Even beyond that, though, is what he did after he caught the ball. Saine allows Lang to set up the block then quickly picks his point of attack, gets low, and bursts forward.
Which brings us to our finally clip:
This really highlights the final trait that I like about Saine: he is relentless every single time he touches the ball. In a way, it reminds me of John Kuhn. He keeps his shoulders low and his feet moving until he’s on the ground, and he hits his holes hard.
Saine’s skills could make him an ideal third-down back, especially if he improves in pass protection, but I don’t think it has to end there. He plays to the end of his runs and pushes forward the entire way. Saine’s hands are exceptional, and his asset to the screen game could take him far. While he’s no Ray Rice, he’s the kind of consistent, dependable running back the Packers like.
Brandon Saine will, unfortunately, be out for the San Diego game due to a hamstring injury, but his performance in practice has been noted by Mike McCarthy: “Brandon Saine is ‘Mr. Consistent.’ He does it every day. He’s such a pro for a young player. Doesn’t say much. He’s strictly business. I just love his approach. He’s made the gains physically from Year 1 to Year 2. I think he’s having an excellent camp.”
I fully expect Saine to be on the Packers 53-man starting roster for the season, and I’m looking forward to how he progresses during the rest of camp once his injury has healed.——————Follow @ChadToporski