McCarthy Closely Monitoring Rookie Running Backs

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Undrafted rookie running back Angelo Pease
Undrafted rookie running back Angelo Pease

It’s only been a few days and already the rookies are making an impression on Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy.  That’s what players are supposed to do and especially guys who are anything but guaranteed a roster spot.  That, alone, isn’t earth-shattering news.

But as we have seen before, this team has had success finding some gems in the undrafted free agent pool.  One such player is running back Angelo Pease.  During the first day of drills, McCarthy was so caught off guard by one of Pease’s runs that he thought he was watching second round draft pick Eddie Lacy.  It’s pretty safe to say that Lacy is a lock to stick on this year’s roster.  For Pease, who rarely saw the field for a very good Kansas State team last season, that comparison is a good early sign.

Here is what McCarthy had to say after practice:

“That’s a big time cut. Frankly, I thought it was Eddie Lacy, the way he dropped his weight and hit the hole,” McCarthy gushed. “Those are things we’re looking for.”

Now again, it’s only one moment and one practice.  There is a long way to go, but if he’s worth a mention in a post-practice recap, we may want to keep an eye on him.

Pease has said that he is used to competing and having to constantly prove himself.  He plans to fight hard for a spot on this year’s team and is fully aware of the uphill battle that awaits him.  Besides Lacy, there is Johnathan Franklin who is also expected to figure into the team’s immediate plans in the backfield.

And, oh yeah, there are the backs who are currently on the roster in that of Alex Green, James Starks and John Kuhn.  Starks will likely face a long and hard road back on the team in 2013 due to constant health issues and inconsistency.  Green would figure to stick, given that he was a third round pick back in 2011.  But with the level of competition that he can now expect to see, it would seem that nothing is guaranteed for him.  Kuhn is another who could become a question mark before all is said and done.

It has been quite some time since the running back position has had so much of the spotlight during the offseason.  Is this the beginning of a new era in Green Bay?  Stay tuned as the full team gathers soon for their spring practices.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Razer

    Nice problem to have. Hopefully, the O-line can improve enough to support a solid running game. At this point, I won’t get too high on some of these guys. Until the guys put on the pads and people get hit, everyone looks fast. Although, I like having a RB named Angelo. Sounds like an Italian. I am going to call him the Italian Stallion

  • FireMMNow

    and this folks is why i was unhappy with spending a second round pick on a RB. pease could be cut early in camp, but there are guys that are late round or UDFAs that have serious tools at the RB position.

    this could also just be MM trying to motivate the RB group to show that it is a wide open competition, but time will tell.

    as long as dujuan makes the team i will be happy. if they keep green over harris it will be a mistake. harris is just the better player. he proved it over and over last year.

    • Dobber

      “…if they keep green over harris it will be a mistake.”

      If Harris can’t win a competition for a roster spot over Green (meaning their actual play dictates the final cut) then I’ll be content with it. That being said, I think Harris WILL win that competition.

      Are we starting to see a trend in runners: harris, pease, franklin? Pease is a little biggger, but all generally falling more into the traditional “change-of-pace-back” mold?

      The Packers did have a true FB in the rookie camp…which may spell the end of Kuhn on the Packer roster. Playing a TE in the backfield in short yardage might do that as well.

      • FireMMNow

        Kuhn should probably be cut. He is the top paid RB on the roster. not worth it. $2.5 million? he has a following in packer land, but does anyone think he is going to be a significant contributor this year? if the packers are handing the ball to kuhn on 3rd and 1, lacy was a waste of a pick. Kuhn had his moments with the packers, but i cannot see a scenario where he makes the team.

        • Dobber

          If he’s still on the roster on Jun. 2, I think he’s got a reasonable shot at making the team.

        • Stroh

          Kuhn contributes in ALOT of ways not just as a RB! I’m not saying your wrong, but Kuhn plays many roles that fans don’t always notice. He might be a little overpaid, but he is valuable nonetheless. I serious doubt the coaches will be as ready to let Kuhn go as some uniformed fans might be.

          • FireMMNow

            Yes he plays special teams. He has 47 tackles in 7 years. not bad. but you cannot keep a guy at 2.5 million just to play special teams. the fact that he was the packers third down back for much of last year speaks more for the lack of groomed talent at the RB position than kuhn’s talent. If he plays other positions than RB and special teams please let me know so i can be an “informed fan”. The packers can sign a rookie OLB at a fifth of the cost to get 6 or 7 special teams tackles a year.

            • Stroh

              He’s not just a FB/ST player! He plays on virtually all ST plays, he is by far the best lead blocker the Packers have, he is Rodgers best protector among RB on pass downs, he is a good receiver. He wears MANY hats! His salary might be a bit high, but at the same time Bush is ONLY a ST guy w/ many fewer roles than Kuhn and is paid similarly, so I don’t see how you can say the Packers cannot keep him at his salary! They already have kept him and Bush!

              It would take up 2 roster spots minimum to take on all the roles Kuhn provides! He’s probably on the field for 1/2 of the total snaps in a game for Gods Sake.

              I’m far from a Cult worshipper of Kuhns by the way. And he is 30 and will be on the decline soon, but he is valuable and by the time you find the multiple guys that are as accomplished in his many roles, you would be using at least another roster spot and possibly be spending more!

            • Stroh

              BTW we’re all uniformed fans. None of us has any inside info! We use supposition and a little logic to figure some things out, but we are uninformed.

              • FireMMNow

                Bush is a much better ST player than Kuhn. Kuhn will only be playing special teams this year. If the Packers cannot find a third down back out of Lacy, Franklin, Harris or Green they have made huge mistakes drafting. Kuhn should not be on the field for 3rd down. The only reason he is on the field on 3rd down is due to the inability of the front office to find someone to fill that role.

              • Stroh

                I agree they should be able to find a better 3rd down RB that Kuhn. But as of now they don’t and until one of them shows they are as good a blocker and as reliable in pick ups, that is still Kuhns job. With limited blitz in preseason the only time to really make that determination is during the season. Once Kuhn is on the roster for opening day, he’s on it for the season.

                Still don’t have a lead blocker that can rival Kuhn either.

        • Scott

          When Lacy was drafted, I was struck by how great a Fullback he’d make. If Lacy pans out in training camp, I’d be surprised to see Kuhn on the final 53.

          • Lucas

            He wouldn’t make for a traditional FB. There is not evidence of run-block movement from him. That’s not to say he can’t do it, but to leap to “he can” from his measurements? Eh. Make him the bell-cow.

        • MarkJohn

          As the competition heats up and if there is still some desire to retain Kuhn, they could always try the AJ Hawk route and ask him to renegotiate (or presumably be cut). If the market can’t come close to the $2.5m (and think of all the cuts there will be out there for teams to fish from) he might agree.

        • http://MSN Mark

          I’m glad I don’t make the decisions. Watching Kuhn lay out Jared Allen over and over again is priceless! Bet you there is more than one DE/OLB who doesn’t think Kuhn is overpaid. Rodgers'[now Mr. Green!] gold protector.

    • Chad Lundberg

      We went through a ton of running backs and competition last year, but the run still didn’t get anywhere. I liked our second round pick a lot.

      • Stroh

        No doubt… I wasn’t on board w/ Lacy in the 1st, but anywhere in the 2nd was more than fine w/ me. I think he runs for 1200 yds and brings the safeties back into the box, which will open the passing game.

    • Stroh

      Nevermind that Green was obviously NOT 100% w/ his recovery from ACL. You may be right that Harris will be better than Green, but its far too early to write Green off at this point. ACL’s are different for everyone and Green lost strength in the leg as the season wore on, he clearly wasn’t ready for full time duty.

      Harris showed for a couple games, but you never know how a guy reacts when teams know about him. Last year he was a complete surprise to everyone, including other teams, that won’t be the case this season. Either way I think both make the 53 roster.

      • MarkJohn

        Agree on Green; he may yet have unseen potential. Plus it may be unlikely, but they could keep both, retaining, say, Lacy, Franklin, Green, Harris, and a FB. They kept 5 TEs previously, they can afford 5 RBs if warranted.

    • Dobber

      “and this folks is why i was unhappy with spending a second round pick on a RB. pease could be cut early in camp, but there are guys that are late round or UDFAs that have serious tools at the RB position.”

      And they’ve had such tremendous success finding those guys over the last several years? Why not draft your guy and get it done?

      • http://Yahoo DH57

        Lacy, is a different breed of back. The Packers don’t have any one close to his size,speed and power. Love the pick!!!!!!!!

  • Chad Toporski

    “Pease has said that he is used to competing and having to constantly prove himself.”

    I love guys with that mentality. They tend to work harder than the rest.

  • Lucas

    It would be nice to stumble on this kind of talent at FB.
    I’m wondering if Kuhn’s lack of 3rd and 1 success has more to do with the scouting of the other team (which points the finger at MMs play calling) and less to do with the OL. Granted, dead grandmothers could kick their walkers through the holes Emmitt Smith had; our line pales compared to them.
    Lacy and Franklin in the backfield at the same time…power up the middle or toss to the outside?

  • Big T

    John Brockington will be competing in this group as well…

    • Razer

      Ha, ha Brockingback. I am hoping that the current RB talent writes itself into Packer lore as the best in modern team history.

  • aaronqb

    Why isn’t DuJuan Harris mentioned as a returning back? Based on his performance late last season and McCarthy’s pre-draft comments, I would be surprised if he doesn’t make the team.

    I agree on Kuhn. He should not be on the 2013 Packers. He is poor ball carrier (slow to the hole and prone to fumble) and a decent blocker. He plays special teams but is dog slow (remember when the New England guard ran away from him on the long kickoff return in 2010?). It’s time for the RB group to get younger and more athletic.

    • Stroh

      Harris is mentioned all the time as a returning RB. Hell this site and others have almost anointed Harris as the best RB on the roster. I like the kid, but he is a Part time player, a role player IMO, that isn’t capable of being the #1 RB the Packers need. He’s a good player, that’s not a knock on him, but he gets far more attention than he deserves IMO!

  • GBPDAN

    Im just glad thst the Packers brass has taken the running game seriously. Its an absolute must that other teams respect our running game. Hopefully the Oline can improve, even if its a modest improvement, from last year. With bulaga (and Sherrard) coming back, Datkos shoulder healed, 2 forth rd draft choices, Barclays development, and the reshuffling of the line, maybe there will be improvement. Add some stud running backs who can find , cut, and excelerate through small gaps in the line and add yards after contact or elusiveness, , the D will have to pull out of the 2 deep zone. Then Arod and his receivers will go to town. An unstoppable offense!

  • FITZCORE1252

    “Nevermind that Green was obviously NOT 100% w/ his recovery from ACL. You may be right that Harris will be better than Green, but its far too early to write Green off at this point. ACL’s are different for everyone and Green lost strength in the leg as the season wore on, he clearly wasn’t ready for full time duty.”

    I agree with all of that. I like DuJuan, but we may see an improved Green this year with the surgery farther behind him. If there’s one spot for the two of them, let em battle it out… The cream will rise to the top.

    Oh yeah, Kuhn can go.

    • Stroh

      Thanks… I like Harris too, but still think Green has a chance to be as good if not better than him. Honestly, I think there is room for both on the roster. I think, Lacy, Green, Franklin and Harris make it at RB, and think there’s a distinct chance Kuhn remains as the FB. Keeping 5 RB is generally the norm for the Packers and I haven’t seen anyone that can take on all of Kuhns roles yet either. Certainly none of the TE/Hbacks have shown the ability as a lead blocker among other roles.

      I agree if theres one spot between Harris/Green, may the best man win. Starks is the odd man out this year.

  • Lucas

    Why do we need a FB? It’s not like Kuhn moves guys out of the way in traditional I formations.

    • Stroh

      In the zbs the FB isn’t a bulldozer. He has to read the hole just like a RB than block the guy that is most likely to make the tackle soonest. That’s why Kuhn is the best FB we have… His experience being a feature RB helps him read the play and make the correct block. In a power run scheme the FB has a specific presnap assignment. William Henderson was like that, but Kuhn’s experience as a college RB help him identify the correct defender to block and he doesn’t have to move him backwards, just allow the RB to cut off his block.

      • Lucas

        That is a good point. So…could Lacy utilize his size to be that kind of a guy?…more of a “get in the way” blocker?

        • Stroh

          Why waste his running ability as a FB? He’s much more valuable as a feature RB and has shown he can be that. Find a college FB that carried the ball regularly even if he wasn’t a quality RB and you have a FB. They’re a dying breed anyway.

  • http://butlerrf@msn.com old time packer fan

    I think the running game depends more on the O-Line than the ball carrier. Lacy will play if healthy & probably franklin too. that leaves the rest to fight it out for #3. Pick the best blocker/pass receiver.

    • http://MSN Mark

      “Running game” means different things to different teams. Were not MN, we have THE QB. All the running game has to do is provide enough balance to burn the opposing defense for ignoring the run and keep Rodgers’ face out of the dirt.

      We struggled to kill the clock when leading in the fourth quarter. Lack of a line, lack of a dynamic RB AND PREDICTABLE PLAY CALLING contributed to these poor results.

      Send the BEST eleven offensive players on the field, forget situation. For the last several years that would mean no RB on the field. [WOW, MM HAS done a hell of a job!] Who will be our best eleven HEALTHY offensive players going into the playoffs? Let’s hope one of the eleven is a running back!

  • Syrupmaker

    UDFA Angelo Pease is not to be taken lightly. He has low miles and a work ethic that will turn heads. Been following him since high school and I TRULY believe he will earn some PT in green bay.