Category Archives: Jason Perone

31

July

Undrafted LB Thomas Raising Eyebrows at Packers Training Camp

Linebacker Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas could be Green Bay’s perennial undrafted free agent stud in 2014

Green Bay Packer training camp is less than a week old and there have already been some stellar performances at the padded practices.  Defensive lineman B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels have shown well along with newcomer Julius Peppers, to name a few.

It’s great to see the veterans performing well, as the Packers will count on them this season.  But with a continuous emphasis on youth, the Packers are always looking for the next young star to emerge.  That’s exactly what general manager Ted Thompson said was his biggest goal in his role:  To find that next diamond in the rough.

In mid-May and after the draft, the Packers went through their usual process of signing the undrafted free agents they’ll invite to training camp.  Besides the true draft gurus among us, many of us looked at those names and said “who?”.

Prior to the start of training camp, most of the attention on that group has gone to former Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who was projected as a mid-round draft pick before a heart condition was discovered and many teams shied away.

I have yet to hear Hubbard’s name from anyone, in terms of plays made or any type of impact that he’s making.  One name I have heard on numerous occasions is that of inside linebacker Joe Thomas.  Thomas came out of South Carolina State and was the Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) defensive player of the year in 2013.  He had 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and an interception.

Thomas isn’t a flashy-type player and there’s obviously a reason why he went undrafted, but he’s catching the eye of the coaching staff in Green Bay and could be this year’s undrafted free agent darling.

Thompson places a heavy emphasis on undrafted free agency and has been successful in finding some gems in the past.  There have also been some who faded out as soon as the bright lights of the regular season came on.  See Vic So’oto and Dezman Moses as two recent examples.

One reason to keep an eye on Thomas is that the inside linebacker position has been one described as a weaker spot for the Packers.  A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones have been serviceable, but aren’t standouts and they are both a big liability in pass coverage.  Hawk is entering his ninth season and while he may stick around a few more seasons, the Packers will eventually have to replace him.  Jones seems to be starting by default and could likely be unseated by a player with any type of playmaking ability.

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30

July

Packers Extend Contract of GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers fans have to hope to see a similar image in the near future. This was Thompson celebrating the team’s last Super Bowl victory in 2010. (Photo: Corey Wilson/Press Gazette)

The Green Bay Packers announced on Wednesday that they have signed general manager Ted Thompson to a multi-year contract extension.  Terms have not been released.  Earlier this month, team President Mark Murphy said that getting an extension done with Thompson was a high priority.

With more years added to Thompson’s tenure in Green Bay and barring a sudden change in the team’s fortunes, this likely means that we will see the tandem of Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay for the foreseeable future.

Thompson spoke about the extension on Wednesday and said that he was honored to be in his position as the team’s GM and that he considers himself a scout first, over everything else.

Thompson originally joined the Packers organization as a scout in 1992 under general manager Ron Wolf.  Thompson was with the Packers until after the 1999 season when he joined the Seattle Seahawks as vice president of football operations under general manager and former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren.

Thompson returned to Green Bay in 2005 as general manager and after one season, hired McCarthy to replace then head coach Mike Sherman.  This season will be Thompson’s 10th as GM for the Packers.

There were some questions about Thompson’s health during the offseason and questions arose about how much longer he would stay in his post as GM in Green Bay.  This extension indicates that he has no desire to slow down anytime soon and plans to continue to guide the Packers for a while longer.

 

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

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28

July

Packers Training Camp: “The Collisions Have Started”

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams

Rodgers and Adams emerge and prepare for the 2014 season. Adams is one of several young receivers vying for a roster spot (Photo credit: Morry Gash/AP)

Monday brought day three of training camp for the Green Bay Packers and they seemed to pack a lot into a two-and-a-half hour period.  One of the first tweets by the media came from Wed Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that simply stated “the collisions have started”.

Among those who have already made news in the three days of camp practices are Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Julius Peppers, Casey Hayward and Colt Lyerla.  Some have made good impressions while others, not so much.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has made some adjustments to this year’s schedule and some changes for the first time in his nine seasons in Green Bay.  These include the timing of practice, specifically as they prepare for their preseason games.

McCarthy will not hold practice two days prior to the game and will instead hold the usual team walkthrough the day prior.  In previous years, the team held their walkthrough two days before the game with no practice the day prior.  He plans to implement this schedule during the regular season as well in the hopes that it reduces the lull before the game and his players will remain more focused.

Monday’s practice lasted about an hour longer than most OTA and mini camp practices so the team is spending a bit more time on the field and preparing for the upcoming season.

There have not been any new nor significant injuries to report.  This may not seem like a big deal this early into the preseason, but over the past few years, the Packers have seen some early injuries that impacted their roster.  At this same point last year, they had already lost offensive lineman J.C. Tretter to an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the 2013 regular season.

The Packers are using some advanced technology to monitor their players and try to avoid too much stress on their bodies in the hopes that it will also reduce injuries.

Jay Sorgi of 620WTMJ and the Green Bay Packers Radio Network and Dan Koob of the NBC affiliate, WGBA in Green Bay, offered nice recaps of Monday’s work and below is a recap with some commentary.

Camp recap

25

July

More Packers Training Camp Questions

Nick Perry & Clay Matthews

Having a healthy Matthews and Perry at the outside linebacker spots is the best-case scenario for the Packers

The Green Bay Packers begin reporting for this year’s training camp today to take physicals and get settled in.  Practices begin tomorrow and hence the team’s quest for a successful 2014 season.

Last week’s “questions” piece was a success so I thought I’d give it another try.  As  always, thank you to those of you who submitted your questions and I chose that were most recurring.

1.  Which one player has to have the best training camp for either himself or the team?

Always a good question and one that sparks some good debate.  Many could argue that quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs to get in sync with his receivers and is the key.  Others may cite a wide receiver, as that position group has some undecided spots open.  Some would cite most any rookie, since they haven’t taken a single snap during live action yet.

To me, the theme here is on defense and the linebacker position.

From an individual perspective, it’s linebacker Brad Jones.  Head coach Mike McCarthy has said he wants more playmakers on the field and he wants to see more plays made on defense, specifically.  Jones has drawn the ire of some fans and media for his mediocre play since signing a contract extension following the 2012 season.  He is set to make $2.5 million this season and $3.25 million in 2015.

Jones battled some injuries last year and was replaced by Jamari Lattimore during that time.  Jones regained his starting position when he returned, but there was some debate as to whether the Packers would benefit more from having the feisty Lattimore next to A.J. Hawk.  Lattimore will certainly come into training camp ready to fight hard for a bigger role this season.

While I described Jones’ play as mediocre, some of the same could be said for Hawk and the inside linebacker position, as a whole.  Hawk seemed to ratchet up his play a bit last season and, if nothing else, has been very healthy during his career in Green Bay.  He’s not the flashy linebacker that many thought they were getting when he was chosen fifth overall in the 2006 draft, but Hawk has proved valuable in a more subtle way.  Hawk will be a starter this year, without a doubt.

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.

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.