Early reports out of Packers training camp indicate that the old B.J. Raji is peeking out of whatever hole he’s been hibernating in since early last season.
It sounds like Raji is giving J.C. Tretter — the Packers newly minted starting center — a rude awakening to the NFL. That’s concerning for the offense, but good news for the defense as Raji tries to regain his 2010 form and anchor the middle of a Packers defensive line that gets pushed around far too often.
To be fair, Raji wasn’t that bad at the start of last season. If he could’ve maintained his early-season level of play all the way to the end of 2013, it wouldn’t have been a pro bowl campaign, but it would have been much better than the complete disappearing act he pulled.
I wondered if conditioning played a role in Raji’s decline in 2013. Supposedly, he showed up to minicamp last season out of shape.
We have no way of knowing for sure what role, if any, Raji’s fitness level played as he faded away, but if he’s in better shape this year and off to a fast start, it at least shows he serious about improving. It also probably shows he’s super ticked off about having to settle for a one-year “prove-it” deal after his bad season, costing himself a lot of money.
I don’t care what motivates Raji. If it takes money, basic pride, or a desire to move his name back onto the list of good NFL defensive linemen, the Packers need him to bounce back.
Hopefully Tretter braces up and gives Raji more of a challenge during camp. And hopefully Raji treats opposing centers the same way he’s currently treating Tretter once the season begins.——————