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September

This year’s Packers Practice Squad Unusual for Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson looked outside of his own cuts to assemble this year's practice squad.

Ted Thompson looked outside of his own cuts to assemble this year’s practice squad.

Ted Thompson, almost to a fault, likes to keep “his guys” around for as long as possible. And this year’s practice squad looks very different than those of years past.

The team’s 2013 practice squad features four players from outside the Packers’ final cuts, along with wide receiver Charles Johnson, cornerback James Nixon, tight end Jake Stoneburner and wide receiver Myles White. Perhaps Thompson wanted some of his cuts to return to the practice squad before they were ultimately claimed by other teams.

Last year, seven members of the team’s practice squad spent training camp in Green Bay. Offensive lineman Chris Scott, signed from the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the lone member of the practice squad who didn’t spend the summer in Green Bay.

By the numbers, the eight-man practice squad tilts heavily towards the offense. Seven of the eight practice-squad spots are held by offensive players, leaving Nixon as the lone defender. On the other hand, the defense holds 28 of the 53 active roster spots.

Half of the practice squad spent the summer (or longer) with the Packers. Here they are:

WR Charles Johnson #17

A seventh-round draft pick from Grand Valley State, Johnson struggled to stay on the field throughout the summer. Hampered by injuries, the 6-foot-2 215-pound receiver showed flashes of his potential but didn’t show enough to merit a spot on the 53-man roster. It will be interesting to see whether or not Johnson or undrafted rookie Myles White is called upon if the injury bug bites the receiving corps.

CB James Nixon #25

Nixon was signed to the practice squad Sept. 20, 2012. A college running back and wide receiver, Nixon certainly has enough athleticism to make it at the professional level. He began his college career at Temple before transferring to the University of California in Pennsylvania for his senior season. After Mason Crosby, Nixon was the story of this year’s Family Night Scrimmage, thanks to an interception and a 66-yard return for a touchdown.

TE Jake Stoneburner #45

The former Ohio State tight end found himself buried on the training-camp depth chart behind veterans Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor. Stoneburner is not as athletic as Finley or second-year prospect Brandon Bostick, but he had a steady camp, which played a role in the team letting Williams walk. Thanks to his name, there’s a perception that Stoneburner is a throwback, in-your-face-type player, but he clocked a 4.53 in the forty-yard dash at Ohio State’s Pro Day.

WR Myles White #19

White, one of two Louisiana Tech products (Tramon Williams) on the Packers’ roster, showed enough this summer to earn a spot on the team’s practice squad. In college, White was overshadowed by teammate Quinton Patton, a fourth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers, before an impressive showing at the school’s pre-draft Pro Day, where he ran a 4.42 forty-yard dash. White (6-0 182) was kept over the smaller undrafted rookie, Tyrone Walker.

While half of the Packers’ eight-man practice squad has been with the team for some time, the other four spots were used on new faces. All four newcomers play on the offensive side of the ball. Here they are: 

QB Scott Tolzien #16

In a move that many saw as a “brain-drain” prior to the season opener against the 49ers, Tolzien’s former team, the Packers may have higher aspirations for the former Wisconsin Badger. Despite not having a strong arm by NFL standards, Tolzien won the Unitas Award at Wisconsin and has the mental capacity to absorb the team’s complex playbook. Tolzien’s ceiling may be as a long-term backup in the NFL, but that’s exactly what the Packers want.

OT Aaron Adams #77

After appearing in all four of the Cleveland Browns’ preseason games, Adams comes to Green Bay, where the offensive line faces a few more question marks than in Cleveland. Adams (6-5 303) earned first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors in both 2011 and 2012 before going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. Although he only played 32 snaps this preseason, according to Pro Football Focus, Adams graded out as the 80th-best tackle among 203 players at the position.

OG Bryan Collins #68

An undrafted rookie out of Southern Methodist, the same school that produced training-camp stud Chris Banjo, Collins spent the summer with the Houston Texans. Collins appeared in two preseason games with Houston before he was one of their final cuts. Pro Football Focus graded Collins as the 56th-best guard among 221 players at the position throughout the 2013 preseason. With little depth along the interior of the line, Collins may very well be a candidate to be active on game day at some point this season.

RB Michael Hill #34

The team’s decision to cut Alex Green and keep only three running backs was one of the bigger surprises of cutdown day, but they didn’t waste time in adding small-school product Michael Hill. Missouri Western’s all-time leading rusher with 4,969 yards on the ground, Hill went undrafted after running the forty-yard dash in 4.60 seconds. Hill was beaten out by Fozzy Whittaker in a competition to be one of the Chargers’ reserve running backs. He led Division II in rushing last season.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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14 Responses to “This year’s Packers Practice Squad Unusual for Ted Thompson”

  1. dijatool eVade says:

    He’s had some success going after other teams cuts in the past:

    Charlie Peprah
    Tom Crabtree
    Tramon Williams (happened later in the season)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Marques Eversoll Marques Eversoll says:

      Definitely. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, by any means. It’s just unusual for him to go outside his own cuts to fill the practice squad.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • PatMc says:

        I think TT is going all in. It is also ironic that he picked up guys from Clev, SD and other teams that waivered his guys.

        He is filling the holes that the team needs to win. Go Pack Go & In Ted we trust

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. BZ in BA says:

    Ted knows more than I do. He played in the league for many years (I played in high school), he has been a front office person for 25 years (I have been to Lambeau field several times), and he is both 100% dedicated to the Packers and really smart, whereas I am only about 20% dedicated (I also have to do my job), and not particularly bright. As I said, I trust in Ted. He knows more than I do.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  3. Razer says:

    I am glad that TT and MM turned over some of these guys and brought in outside options. Projects are necessary but progress is essential. If the talent and learning isn’t coming to the surface then open up the spot to another potential. This is good business.

    If we are a draft and develop team, then our coaching/training staff is the other end of the equation. I would think that upgrades to the coaching staff are also part of this process. Other than the initial change to bring in Capers, this organization hasn’t upgraded a single coaching position. TEs, RBs, MLB have all under performed over the last years and little has changed at the top. A little self evaluation might be in order.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    • Alex Parkhurst says:

      Usually, an NFL team makes coaching changes when they have 1)lousy seasons but more often 2) when there is a new head coach and everyone is let go – at least up front – some are hired back.

      RB’s have underperformed because our O- Line has not been great at run blocking and our running backs have been medium to low draft choices and free agents. Running has not been a priority and everyone knows it. So do NFL defenses

      ILB’s – injuries have played a part, but is it coaching or the personnel?

      TE – They have been good in my estimation – maybe not the best in the NFL but by no means the worst.

      Nevertheless, we have 10 new players this year on the 53 man roster, but no new coaches. Does make you wonder.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

      • Razer says:

        Some players perform better than others so you move ahead and upgrade the talent. Some coaches get more out of their players so you look to add these coaches to your staff. We have a QB coaching our RBs. Seems like we could be upgrading some coaches like we upgrade the talent.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      • Rob says:

        Players are typically replaced because of age–too much mileage on the body. Coaches are hired because of age–more mileage on the brain–called experience. Just as there is an investment for draft and develop for players, perhaps there is a greater investment in developing coaches. Where was McCarthy 15-20 years ago; would we wanted him as head coach then?! But, because of experience and maturity [see Seattle 2012 and his very controlled actions] the Pack has one of the best coaches in the league. If you think that TT and MM don’t assess each and every one of the coaching staff every year [including themselves], then apparently you haven’t been observing these men very closely.

        And by the way, how many of coaching staff has been scooped up by other teams in the past few years?!!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. BubbaOne says:

    I wonder why TT didn’t sign Angelo Pease instead of Hill to the PS?

    Also, a big aim this year was to get more physical. Getting bigger would help. One of the 49er coaches in the playoff game’s pregame warm up said it was noticeable how much bigger his team was than the Packers. Yet the 2 OL additions to the PS are 303 and 301 lbs…hmmm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • Mandarichbestpickever says:

      Bigger, fine. We have to out-quick them, then. The last game was their style. Our turn.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Rob says:

        Let them have the big bull, give me the little pit bull terrier every time.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • Slim11 says:

          It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. tim says:

    The practice squad guys seem pretty interesting, maybe a cut above past years. Hope we can hang onto them, especially the WRs and the two offensive linemen. Johnson’s size andw speed is a big plus, and the o-linemen, well we need decent ones! They sound ok.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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