Category Archives: Jason Perone

18

July

Three Questions Heading Into Packers Training Camp

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Clinton-Dix is vying for a starting spot at safety after being the Packers’ top draft pick in 2014

With the Green Bay Packers opening their 2014 training camp in less than a week, I took to Twitter to find out what our followers’ and readers’ top questions were about this year’s team.  Thank you to those who submitted theirs and I’ll certainly be doing this again throughout camp and the regular season.

1.  What does Micah Hyde bring to the table that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t and vice versa?

There has already been a lot of discussion about the safety position in Green Bay this offseason.  For the first time in over 60 years, Packers safeties recorded zero interceptions in a full season in 2013.

Perhaps the fans in Green Bay have become spoiled after seeing the likes of Leroy Butler, Darren Sharper and Nick Collins grace the gridiron in green and gold.  Still, it’s hard to argue that the production at safety since Collins was forced to retire in 2011 has been subpar.

Heading into this season and before the draft, the team let incumbent starter M.D. Jennings depart in free agency and there was much talk that they would give Hyde a look at safety along side Morgan Burnett.  Sure enough, Hyde took most of the first team reps during OTA’s and mini camp.

The Packers drafted Clinton-Dix with their first pick in this year’s draft and more questions swirled about whether he would become the immediate starter or if he would have to compete for his role.

Clinton-Dix worked almost exclusively with the second team during the spring sessions but the Packers will give him every chance to earn a starting position throughout the preseason.  Not all first rounders start right away, but the Packers were addressing a need with the first rounder and likely can’t afford to have him sitting on the bench this season.

When Casey Hayward was injured last season, Hyde emerged as a serviceable fill-in at slot corner.  With as much nickel as the Packers tend to deploy, that will certainly be a position of great need and importance in 2014.  Hayward expects to be back, but we won’t know where the Packers stand at slot corner until camp gets underway.

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11

July

Packers, Favre Stall Number Retirement

Brett Favre

Favre frowns on the idea of returning to retire his number amidst boos from fans

Earlier this week, Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy spoke to the media about the upcoming season and the talks that have been swirling about when the team might hold a retirement ceremony for former quarterback Brett Favre’s famous #4.

Just a few months ago, Murphy and Favre both admitted that there had been some dialogue between both sides and that a return to Green Bay was eventually in order.

It was sounding like it was all but a foregone conclusion that Favre would be back at some point during this next season for a ceremony of some sort.  The obvious thought was that it would be at one of the home games.

Murphy emphasized the team’s desire to get something done before Favre is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.  That means time is running out.

Speculation began about which game was best for the team and Favre to reunite.  That both of Favre’s former teams, the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, were scheduled to appear in Green Bay this year only added to the intrigue.  The Packers wouldn’t possibly bring Favre in with the Vikings in town, would they?

Well, not to worry about the possibility of choosing the wrong game or time this season.  Murphy has backed off of his earlier statements about retiring Favre’s #4 so soon and has seemed to place more emphasis on having further dialogue and simply having Favre attend a game.  He now says that a ceremony during the 2014 season is unlikely.

Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig ran a recap of some of Murphy’s comments this week.  Murphy says that neither Favre nor the team want a scenario in which he returns and fans are booing him.  Murphy makes it sound like a mutual concern and cited the fact that they can’t control 80,000 people.

If that’s what he’s selling, I’m not buying.  Kudos to Murphy and the Packers if they’re trying to add some mutuality to this sentiment, but this seems like another attempt by Favre to have more control of a situation than he is entitled to and it has stalled the process.

11

July

Green Bay Packers Short on Practice Time

Green Bay Packers training camp

The Packers have just 17 practices to prepare for the 2014 season

This year, the Green Bay Packers have a mere 17 practice sessions at their disposal during training camp.  That’s not really big news.  After the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was put into place back in 2011, several of the current restrictions on practice protocol went into effect.

Teams don’t practice all day or have two-a-days like they used to and when you consider that most practices lasts about an hour and forty five minutes, that equates to just under 30 total hours of work.  That’s less than an average work week for you and me.

That doesn’t include valuable preseason games, so there are more opportunities for the team to see their players in action and gear up for this coming season, but just 17 camp practices?

I get the new rules, I just see that number and am reminded of why many NFL teams don’t hit their peak until a few games into the season, sometimes later.  I’m also reminded of why we tend to see many teams beat another team that they wouldn’t otherwise if they were to face each other later in the year (the Packers have to be hoping for this scenario in week one against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks).

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has talked about using less scheme and more personnel groups this season.  He wants to be more “multiple”, as he says, meaning using the different strengths of each player and within the scheme to maximize results.  McCarty cites the number of young players on the roster as the primary reason.  You can also thank the lack of practice time.

Some argue that professional players can play and they don’t need to be ramming into each other all day, every day to get ready for the season.  That may be true in some cases, but many teams would seem to benefit from more emphasis on fundamental football and the Packers are one of those teams.

The tackling, for example, has been marginal over the last three seasons.  While the Packers say they work on it as often as they can, training camp offers more of an opportunity to do it in a live setting.  During live periods, players can make more contact with each other, although rarely is full contact encouraged anymore during practice.

4

July

Where To Overload The Green Bay Packers Roster

Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis

With a strong preseason, Abbrederis and Janis could force the Packer to carry six wide receivers

I want to start off by wishing everyone a happy 4th of July!  I was supposed to be born on the bicentennial and decided to arrive early so I’m forever reminded of my need for patience on this glorious day in American history!

Heading into training camp in just under a month, the Green Bay Packers and their coaching staff are likely already discussing possible scenarios that the team can emerge with when they head into the 2014 regular season.  However, it’s way too early to make any hard and fast decisions on who will and won’t be on the final 53-man roster, save for the obvious guys.

One part of that discussion that has already started some buzz is which positions the Packers may consider carrying an extra player.  There is no real requirement for how many players a team has to carry at a certain position, but there are some historical averages that most teams operate under.  Below are the usual number of players seen on a roster that employs a base 3-4 defense.  Again, these are averages and many teams have used different combinations in the past, based on need and talent level.

——————–

Quarterback (2)

Running Back/Fullback (4)

Wide Receiver (5)

Tight End (4)

Offensive Line (9)

Defensive Line (8)

Linebacker (8)

Cornerback (6)

Safety (4)

Kicker (1)

Punter (1)

Long snapper (1)

——————–

Keep in mind that while teams carry 53 men on their roster, only 45 are dressed on game day.  Teams need to be sure that they’re giving themselves enough depth at each position based on who is most likely to suit up on a regular basis.

One example of why is last season when the Packers were faced with the harsh reality that they didn’t have what they needed at the quarterback position behind Aaron Rodgers.  Heading into the regular season, they carried only one backup, Seneca Wallace, and had Scott Tolzien on the practice squad.  By the time Rodgers returned in week 17, Wallace was on injured reserve, Tolzien was promoted to the active roster and Matt Flynn was signed mid-season.  The Packers ended the season with three quarterbacks on the active roster and I fully expect the same this season.

30

June

Former Packers DL Jolly Receives Medical Clearance

Johnny Jolly

Jolly is one step closer to a potential return to the NFL

According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the doctors of former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly have given him the medical clearance to resume his football career.

I’m not writing this because I think Jolly will be back with the Packers or even to suggest that the Packers look into evaluating and clearing him.  Jolly’s story last season carried with it a tale of redemption and hope.  While his performance was anything but stellar, he was a good addition to the team and proved worthy of a roster spot.

Jolly received encouragement from his doctors earlier this year when the surgery was performed and a portion of his hip bone was grafted to help fuse his spine.  At that time, all Jolly could do was wait and see how it healed and if doctors would be confident enough to allow him to play football again.

Today, at least part of that wait is over.  Jolly’s clearance by his doctors is the first step to his potential return to the NFL and a sign that the procedure was a success, at least from a medical standpoint.

However, before any team would sign Jolly, their doctors also have to medically clear him.  Being cleared by his own doctors is one thing.  Being cleared by a team doctor is another and especially if we’re talking about the conservative medical staff in Green Bay.

Packers fans are unfortunately all too familiar with the process a player goes through with a serious neck injury.  We have seen some good and great former Packers players not return to the game following a neck injury.  The same players who if healthy, would have multiple suitors for their services and at a healthy rate of pay.  Former safety Nick Collins being a prime example.

Former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is also still waiting for a team to medically clear him so he can resume his professional career.  As much as these men offer as players, teams remain cautious about the potential risks associated with a return to this very physical sport following such a serious injury.

As far as the Packers are concerned, the meaning of this news about Jolly today is about nothing more than being happy for a former team member.  As I mentioned earlier, the Packers have seen way more than their fair share of neck injuries to past players and to hear about one that may heal enough to return to the gridiron is welcome news on its own merit.

27

June

Packers See Dramatic Turn at Tight End

Richard Rodgers

High expectations have been set for Rodgers in 2014. Is he the Packers next starting tight end?

At this time last season, the Green Bay Packers were preparing for training camp and the position battles that would ensue.  Tight end was not among them, as they had veteran Jermichael Finley in the fold and the annual talk about his having a “breakout” season was in full swing.

In 2012, Finley had just over 60 catches for two touchdowns.  Hardly the kind of numbers you would expect from a guy who was regularly hyped as a focal point in the Packers offense.

Through six games last season, Finley had 25 catches and three touchdowns.  He missed most of week three against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a concussion so those stats actually came in just five games.

Finley’s form seemed to look closer to the version we saw in 2009 versus that over the past three seasons.  He seemed primed to finally achieve the infamous “p” word that has followed him throughout his career:  potential.

That’s when catastrophe struck.  Mid-way through their week seven game against the Cleveland Browns, Finley took a shot from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson that left him motionless on the Lambeu Field turf.  Finley was taken off the field and immediately to a local medical center for evaluation of his spine.  His season was over and the Packers were facing a big loss at the tight end position.

Fast forward to today and we know that Finley has been medically cleared by the surgeon who performed the surgery to fuse his spine.  Still, Finley’s future remains a question mark, as no NFL team has cleared him to resume his career and he remains a free agent.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did speak about Finley during recent organized team activities (OTA’s) and, in essence, said that Finley is a free agent but that he sees him as a Packer and wishes him the best.  The known entity that was Finley surely still intrigues the Packers, but I’m one of those in the camp that doubt his return to the team.  Not this season or any, for that matter.

Under the assumption that Finley won’t be back, that leaves the Packers in the midst of their search for their next starting tight end.  With Finley, the Packers had a piece to their offense that they could feature and build quite a bit of the scheme around.  Behind Finley, that’s not so much the case.

20

June

Packers Mini Camp and Offseason Recap

Jared Abbrederis

Abbrederis is one of many who need a strong training camp to crack the Packers final roster

The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their final mini camp practice on Thursday and thus ends another offseason in Green Bay.  The next team gathering will be on July 25th at the official opening of training camp.

Quite a few stories have come out during the team’s organized team activities (OTA’s) and this last week at mini camp so here is a recap of the highlights and latest on where the team stands as they prepare for the preseason.

Some of these notes are brought to you by a host of Packers beat writers and media including ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Ty Dunne.

Early offseason/free agency

The biggest move in terms of the interest and excitement created was the acquisition of defensive lineman and former second-overall draft pick Julius Peppers, who was released by the Chicago Bears shortly after the 2013 season ended.  The signing was significant in that it was the first time since 2006 that Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed a free agent of notable name.  Peppers was said to be in great shape during the offseason workouts and practices and is expected to provide a boost to the pass rush from the “elephant” end position.

Despite Peppers’ age (34), he says he has a lot left in the tank.  Playing in the same division against your former team who released you and may have thought you had nothing left to offer has served many past players in that same scenario.  Jay Cutler, you’ve been warned.

The Packers also signed former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Letroy Guion.  Guion is anything but a lock to make the team’s final roster, but he did choose Green Bay over other offers and if he can become serviceable, he could end up being a bargain.  Remember Howard Green in 2010?

The Packers re-signed cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year, $39 million contract.  The Packers also re-signed defensive lineman B.J. Raji to a one year “prove it” deal worth $4 million.  Other re-signings include Mike Neal, John Kuhn and Chris Banjo and Matt Flynn.  Shields was a must, in my opinion.  He knows the defense and has the speed to make up for errors.  He’s not the best corner in the league but he’s the best corner on the Packers.