Category Archives: Packers News

14

March

Evan Dietrich-Smith Signs With The Buccaneers

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Tom Silverstein has been a busy guy, first reporting on the resigning of defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji and now reporting that center Evan Dietrich-Smith has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

With that, the Packers now have a big question to answer this offseason, much like they did when they let Scott Wells sign with the St. Louis Rams.   JC Tretter becomes perhaps the de facto starter, which is a little scary considering he was a left tackle in college and broke his foot during rookie orientation last year, essentially giving him a redshirt rookie season.  Other options might include Don Barclay, who practiced at center during training camp last year with somewhat disastrous results or TJ Lang, who is rumored to be the emergency center (or at least Josh Sitton jokes that he is). Luckily, the Packers have some other options on the offensive line, with both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod likely being in the mix at tackle, either Don Barclay and/or David Bakhtiari could slide into the interior.

In terms of the draft, the Packers have never thought very highly of centers (Wells was a 6th round draft choice while EDS was a undrafted free agent), so it’s unlikely that they would draft a center high, rather they like to draft tackles who likely wouldn’t make it in the NFL and convert them to interior linemen.

The top free agent center is Alex Mack, who was designated the transition franchise tag for the Browns, likely meaning that the Packers will not try to pry Mack away from the Browns.  Again going back to Thompson’s history drafting and retaining centers, it appears as if the Packers front office views centers as largely fungible, meaning the Packers backup likely will be another low round draft pick or an undrafted free agent.  Another option might be to run the “Jeff Saturday” play, where the Packers sign a veteran center while they hope JC Tretter or Don Barclay gain enough experience at center to play next there next season.

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12

March

NFL Free Agency: Green Bay Packers Re-Sign DE/OLB Mike Neal

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Mike Neal, NFL Free Agency, Packers Free Agents, Packers free agencyAccording to his Twitter feed, defensive end/linebacker Mike Neal has signed a new two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Neal had his most productive season in 2013, but that was mainly due to the fact he was finally able to remain healthy for a full season.  Neal had 47 combined tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and one interception in a season where he was moved from the defensive line to a linebacker position.

A second round pick of the Packers in 2010, Neal showed flashes of being a decent pass rusher during training camp but never was able to remain healthy and only saw action for more than half a season in 2012.  Neal had been rumored to be target by the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals, but ultimately chose to remain a Green Bay Packer.

With Neal’s return, it’s becoming clear no major defensive scheme overhaul is in order for the Packers this offseason. Moving Neal back to his original position on the defensive line however would indicate Green Bay wants to get leaner at the position.   There is also the possibility Neal could be moved all over the front seven as a pass rush specialist, lining up both with his hands on the ground as well as standing up.

This move at the least sets the stage for more competition throughout the unit as training camp approaches.  Neal is still young and has a lot to contribute.  He has natural athletic ability and now that he’s proven he can stay healthy, Neal could be critical towards Green Bay finally establishing a consistent pass rush.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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4

March

Cory’s Corner: Raji and Shields aren’t worth worrying over

B.J. Raji was not franchise or transition tagged by the Packers.

B.J. Raji was not franchise or transition tagged by the Packers.

There is no reason to worry about the Packers not tagging anyone with a franchise or transition tag.

I can totally understand not tagging B.J. Raji. Here’s a guy that scoffed at $8 million and if the Packers applied the franchise tag it would’ve cost them $9.654 million and $8.061 million if they used the transition tag. The Packers aren’t going to spend that kind of cash on a guy that appeared disinterested last year — which happened to also be a contract year.

Raji, while only 27, will likely be paid a king’s ransom but will never live up to his 2010 season in which he had 6½ sacks and gave us his own rendition of twerking in the NFC Championship at Chicago.

The same goes for Shields. The Packers’ secondary has been in shambles ever since Charles Woodson lost his ability to cover at a premium level. That unit has made subpar passers like Colin Kaepernick look like Peyton Manning and has put more pressure on the front seven to generate a pass rush.

Shields would be owed $11.834 million if he were franchised and $10.081 if the fourth-year cornerback were transition tagged. Another twist in this whole equation is that Shields’ agent is Drew Rosenhaus, the antichrist for front office pro teams. Rosenhaus is the guy that tells his clients to hold out while asking for more money and a long-term deal.

The 26-year-old Shields has blossomed into a reliable corner. I wouldn’t say he’s the shutdown corner the Packers covet and need for a division loaded with guys like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery but he is solid. ProFootballFocus.com has Shields as the 52nd best corner — 12 spots below teammate Micah Hyde.

The Packers have proven that they are unwilling to overpay just to keep a veteran. That was proven when the Packers let go of center Scott Wells in 2011 — which happened to be the same year he was named a Pro Bowler for the first time.

Many people see that the Packers have the sixth-most cap space with $34,197,930 and wonder why none of that is getting used. Ted Thompson knows that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb must be taken care of after this season and he still may sign a defensive free agent.

7

February

Packers News: Four added to coaching staff, five get new titles

Alex Van Pelt was a backup quarterback in the NFL and will now coach Aaron Rodgers and the quarterbacks after spending two seasons in charge of the Packers' running backs.

Alex Van Pelt was a backup quarterback in the NFL and will now coach Aaron Rodgers and the quarterbacks after spending two seasons in charge of the Packers’ running backs.

The Green Bay Packers have announced the final changes to their coaching staff, according to the team’s official website.

Winston Moss was named assistant head coach/linebackers, Scott McCurley assistant linebackers coach, Alex Van Pelt quarterbacks coach, Jason Simmons defense/special teams assistant, John Rushing defensive quality control coach, Sam Gash running backs coach, Ron Zook assistant special teams coach, Luke Getsy offensive quality control coach and Chris Gizzi strength and conditioning assistant.

Five coaches–Moss, McCurley, Van Pelt, Simmons and Rushing–have been with the Packers for at least the past two seasons.

Moss had served as assistant head coach/inside linebackers for the past five seasons but will now add the outside linebackers to his responsibilities. Former outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene decided earlier in the offseason to step away from coaching. Moss was the only defensive coached retained by head coach Mike McCarthy following the 2008 season and his role on the coaching staff has continued to grow. He will be assisted by McCurley, who had been the team’s defensive quality control coach since 2007.

Van Pelt, a career backup quarterback, joined the Packers in 2012 as running backs coach but will now serve as the quarterbacks coach, replacing Ben McAdoo who joined the New York Giants as offensive coordinator. Overseeing the running backs this past season, Van Pelt helped the Packers’ run game improve to No. 7 in the NFL. Van Pelt was the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons (2010-2011) and helped quarterback Josh Freeman enjoy his most successful season as a professional in 2010.

Simmons is entering his fourth season with the Packers after joining the coaching staff in 2011 following a ten-year NFL playing career. Having served as coaching administrator the past three seasons, Simmons will now work with special teams, defensive backs and quality control.

Rushing, entering his sixth season in Green Bay, served as offensive assistant/special teams for the past two seasons after starting his Packers coaching career as an offensive quality control coach for 2009-10 and assistant wide receivers/special teams in 2011.

The four newcomers–Gash, Getsy, Gizzi and Zook–bring different backgrounds to Green Bay’s coaching staff.

2

December

Packers Reportedly Sign Running Back Kahlil Bell

Kahlil Bell

Bell was reportedly signed to replace Johnathan Franklin

The Green Bay Packers have reportedly signed former Chicago Bears and New York Jets running back Kahlil Bell, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.  Bell hasn’t played a down this season, after spending time with the Bears and Jets over the past two seasons.

Bell had his best game as a pro against the Packers on Christmas Day, 2011 when he rushed for over 120 yards in a Bears loss to Green Bay.

Bell’s signing means the Packers will need to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Bell.  Neither Bell’s signing nor any indication of what the next move will be have been announced by the Packers.

One scenario would have the Packers sending a current injured player to injured-reserve.  Among the possibilities are center Evan Dietrich-Smith, receiver Randall Cobb, offensive lineman J.C. Tretter or quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The  move to sign Bell became necessary when the Packers placed rookie running back Johnathan Franklin on season-ending injured reserve after he suffered a neck injury against the Minnesota Vikings in week 12.

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

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26

November

Packers News: Rodgers, Shields, Barclay, Jolly back at practice

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers practiced Nov. 26. / Photo by Wes Hodkiewicz via Twitter

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers practiced Nov. 26. / Photo by Wes Hodkiewicz via Twitter

For the first time since suffering a broken collarbone Nov. 4, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was on the field throwing Tuesday at practice.

Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com via Twitter, Rodgers participated in all the individual drills open to the media before being “kicked out” for the team portion of practice. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy previously said Rodgers’ chances of playing Thursday against the Lions were “slim to none,” but it appears the quarterback has made some sort of progress in his rehab.

It’s worth noting that while Rodgers was able to throw the ball at practice, he was taking snaps from Garth Gerhart and not starter Evan Dietrich-Smith. But as Jason Wilde points out on Twitter, Rodgers and Dietrich-Smith have plenty of reps together.

Along with Rodgers’ return, cornerback Sam Shields, defensive end Johnny Jolly and right tackle Don Barclay were also both practicing. The Packers have struggled to compensate for each player being out the last two weeks.

Marshall Newhouse has been a train wreck filling in for Barclay at right tackle, while the once-deep secondary is now scrambling to fill holes, as they’re without Casey Hayward for the rest of the season and Shields has missed the past two games. The defensive line has been dominated without Jolly in the lineup.

One has to wonder whether Rodgers’ availability will be directly tied to Barclay. Allowing Rodgers to play three weeks after breaking his collarbone would be risky with Newhouse at right tackle against the Detroit Lions’ front four.

More information will follow when McCarthy talks to reporters after practice, as it’s still unclear whether or not Rodgers will be cleared for contact in time for Thursday’s game. However, Rodgers needed to practice today to have even the slightest of chances to play, and he did just that.

(UPDATE: McCarthy said he’s not expecting Rodgers to play this week. Asked if his chances were still “slim to none,” McCarthy said, “Closer to none.” McCarthy also said he expects Sam Shields and Johnny Jolly to play Thursday. The team is still preparing both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien, although Flynn took the starter reps today.)

But hey, there’s finally some positive injury news on the Packers front. At least for today.

16

October

Packers News: WR Tyrone Walker signed to practice squad

Packers WR Tyrone Walker had a strong preseason, and now he's back for another run with the team.

Packers WR Tyrone Walker had a strong preseason, and now he’s back for another run with the team.

According to the team’s official website, the Green Bay Packers have brought back Tyrone Walker to the practice squad.

The move was announced Wednesday by Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Walker, 5’10″ 191 pounds, spent training camp with the Packers before being released as part of the team’s final cuts. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks and remained on their practice squad for one game before he was let go.

Walker joins recently re-signed receiver Reggie Dunn, giving the team two wideouts on the eight-man practice squad.

Before signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent, Walker left Illinois State as the school’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Walker will, again, wear No. 83 with the team.

In the preseason, Walker led the Packers with 11 catches; Walker’s 86 receiving yards ranked third on the team behind Myles White and Jermichael Finley.

While certainly not the biggest or fastest receiver on the roster, Walker proved to have reliable hands throughout training camp and the preseason. Given his stature and lack of top-end speed, Walker faces long odds to make a significant impact, but the receiver-needy Packers could be his best opportunity to catch on (pun intended) with a NFL team.

Including the injured James Jones, the Packers currently have four wide receivers on the roster to go along with five tight ends. Jones’ status for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns is still up in the air, although earlier this week, head coach Mike McCarthy said Jones “might be able to play.”

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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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