Category Archives: Defensive Players

20

July

2014 Packers ILB Position – Last Year’s Safety?

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Won’t be long now! We can stop speculating on all things Packers in a few long days from now.  This offseason has been very good, talent has been added in Peppers and Guion for Defensive line.

There is a ton of talent heading into their second year. Baktiari, Boyd, Lacy, Jones, Hyde, Barrington, Palmer, Mulumba and White all earned playing time last year.  Every NFL coach and GM will tell you the biggest jump is going into that second year.

You add the players returning from injury in Bulaga, Sherrod, Matthews, Tretter, Worthy and getting players that were just banged up for most of the year like the Jones, both Datone and Brad were hampered with injuries, Perry played on a broken foot. These returning players account for five first round picks a second and a 4th. Not having those players on the field hurt the Packers in 2013 and will add a big boost for 2014.

You add another draft class to increase competition and this camp will be fun to watch.

I have heard more about the Packers not drafting an Inside Linebacker then about getting the best all around safety in the draft. From a lot of comments through out the Packer world, many think the defense is doomed because of not getting an ILB.  I am not one of those.

Safety was a bigger need, Changing the lineup of the Defensive line was a bigger need, Wide Receiver was a bigger need. When you are one injury away from Miles White being your #3 WR, it is a big need.

The situation at ILB is far from bad or will even be a hindrance to the 2014 defense. I have never understood the crap piled on Hawk for his eight years with the team. In 2013 Hawk became the Packers All Time Leading Tackler. When you look at the history of the Packers that is no small feat. That record stood for 24 years and that player took 11 years to do it.  He again lead the team in tackles last year, had 5 sacks and one Int with 5 passes defensed. He has missed 2 games in 8 years and yet so many just plain hate him.

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20

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

As training camp approaches, I feel really good about the Packers cornerbacks this season.

It’s a deep group, and the depth includes a nice mix of players. There are proven players (Tramon Williams), good players still on the upswing (Sam Shields) and talented players who have yet to establish themselves, but have still achieved some type of success in their short careers (Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde).

There’s also players like Davon House and Demetri Goodson who could come out of nowhere and exceed expectations.

I wish I could say the same about the rest of the defense. No, I’m not predicting another season of doom and gloom when the other team has the ball, but the depth mix isn’t there with the other defensive position groups like it is at cornerback.

I realize that every position group can’t be stacked, especially with the salary cap. And I get that there will be questions in many spots when you’re a team like the Packers who rely so heavily on young talent. I just wish the depth mix was different at linebacker, safety and defensive line.

If you look at the offensive side of the ball, every position group (except maybe for tight end) has a good depth mix of proven veterans, players who are already good but could be great, and youngsters with potential.

If A.J. Hawk gets hurt or Brad Jones flounders again, there’s not much to be excited about beyond Jamari Lattimore. If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t pan out, we’re looking at another season of crossing our fingers that Morgan Burnett turns into a player. If Julius Peppers is past his prime, we have to hope that Nick Perry stays healthy or some other player we’ve never heard of breaks out. If B.J. Raji is useless again, who’s going to anchor the middle in the base package?

Hopefully players like Datone Jones, Sam Barrington, Sean Richardson, Josh Boyd and Carl Bradford shine in the preseason and put some of these concerns rest. Back in 2010, I thought the cornerback group would struggle with depth. Then a guy named Sam Shields emerged and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl.

Here’s hoping something like that happens again.

Packers News, Notes and Links

15

July

If Packers fans had to pick a Packers Pepper to Perform

Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers

Tyler Dunne and Justin Felder asked an interesting question on the last Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers podcast: If Packers fans had to choose, would they pick pass rusher Julius Peppers or trainer Pepper Burruss to have a great season in 2014?

The duo never really answered the question, so let’s answer it here. First, some context:

If Julius Peppers has a great season, it probably means he had 10-plus sacks and finally provided the Packers defense with a legitimate edge pass-rushing threat to complement, and enhance, everything Clay Matthews already does.

The Packers have tried first-round draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents, random dudes off the street and converted defensive tackles at the outside linebacker slot opposite Matthews. Nothing has worked out.

The situation was so desperate, general manager Ted Thompson took the rare step of signing Peppers, a free agent, to try and get Matthews some help.

Peppers’ snaps will probably be limited, but if he reaches double digits in sacks and forces teams to divert attention from Matthews over to him, it will provide a tremendous boost to the Packers beleaguered defense.

If Pepper Burruss has a great season, it means the Packers injury luck has finally turned around. I know one trainer isn’t responsible for the health of the team, but work with me on this one.

Since 2010, every single position group on the Packers has been hit by a major injury to an important player.

Two players — a pro-bowl safety and a running back picked in the fourth round — have suffered career-ending neck injuries. One of the best tight ends in team history likely won’t play again after a neck injury. Ditto for Johnny Jolly, one of the best comeback stories from last season.

Pepper Burruss

Pepper Burruss

Mike McCarthy says he’s had two healthy teams in his eight years in Green Bay: 2007 and 2011. In 2007, the Packers went to the NFC title game. In 2011, they went 15-1.

Whether you think McCarthy’s exaggerating or not doesn’t matter. It’s a fact that the Packers have been one of the most beat up teams in the NFL since 2010.

So let’s say Burruss comes up with a magical solution to the Packers injury woes and devises a way for the Packers to not be injury free, but at least finish in the top 5 for fewest games lost due to injury in 2014.

9

July

What Can the Packers Expect from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Eddie Murphy?

OK humor me for a moment, but watch Trading Places or Coming to America and tell me it doesn’t look like the Packers just drafted a young stand up comedian from Brooklyn, New York.

Alright with that out of the way, we often hear about how some positions are more “primed” for a successful rookie season than others.  Quarterbacks is often cited as the position with the hardest transition between college and the pros likely because college football has a more diluted pool of talent and a wider array of “gimmicky” schemes that often just don’t work in the NFL (see: Wildcat offense).  Wide receiver and offensive linemen are another two positions often cited as having slow progression, again likely because the NFL route tree is considerably more complex and refined than in college and the same can be said about protection schemes and the wider array of pass rushing options professional teams use.  On the other hand running backs and cornerbacks are said to be some of the quickest positions where teams see positive production; the Packers enjoyed perhaps one of the finest rookies seasons out of Eddie Lacy last year on his way to the rookie of the year awards likely in part due to the fact that running the football has a lot of innate talent involved.  Both running backs and cornerbacks also likely rely more on physical traits than the other positions and as a result also have some of the lowest career averages of any position.  But what about safeties?  On one hand, safeties do rely on their speed and agility much in the same way a cornerback does because often times safeties and cornerbacks switch roles.  On the other hand, safeties are responsible for a lot more than just covering a man or a zone; they have to be able to read offenses and routes, fill in gaps and provide run support and in the Packers 3-4 scheme are also responsible for calling the majority of the assignments in the defensive secondary.  So which one is it? Will the Packers be getting an instant rush of success and production out of Clinton-Dix or will he require a season or two to really come into his own?

6

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

It’s Fourth of July week, which means it’s extremely quiet around the NFL and even quieter if you’re looking for news about the Packers.

I also blew off three of my fingers setting off firecrackers. So instead of a trying to squeeze a long post out of some Packers-related topic that isn’t really news, how about I take a way-too-early crack at predicting the Packers 53-man roster?

(Adam locks himself into a room and begins hours and hours of intense study. He emerges days later, weary and beaten down, but relieved that he finally chiseled the Packers roster down to 53 players.)

(Actually, none of that is true. Adam just drank a couple of beers and tried to figure out who is going to end up on the final 53. Sure, he thought about it, but he also thought about getting a double fudge cookie dough Blizzard at Dairy Queen the other day before finally settling on the Peanut Buster Parfait.)

Ok, I just finished making my first prediction and I counted up all the players. I ended up with exactly 53 players on the first try! I thought for sure I’d have to make a few tough cuts, but I nailed 53 right off the bat!

I bet this happens to Ted Thompson all the time.

Does this mean my way-too-early Packers 53-man roster prediction will turn out to be the actual 53-man roster come September? Absolutely not. But let’s talk about it anyway.

Who did I leave off the roster that you think will make it? Who did I put on the team that you don’t think will be there?

And as long as your actually reading it, did I count correctly? Do I actually have 53 players there? (And don’t count Aaron Rodgers twice. Yeah, he’s good, but he only counts for one player.)

QB
Aaron Rodgers
Scott Tolzien
Matt Flynn

I say they keeps three QBs, and Tolzien wins the backup gig.

RB
Eddie Lacy
James Starks
DuJuan Harris
John Kuhn

Just cross your fingers that at least two of the top three RBs make it through the season healthy.

WR
Jordy Nelson
Randall Cobb
Jarrett Boykin
Davante Adams
Chris Harper
Jared Abbrederis

I’m slipping Harper in there and hoping Jeff Janis makes it through to the practice squad.

2

July

What Packers Fans Should Know About Neck Injuries

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, Packer People, Packers players, Johnny Jolly, Packers character, Packers off the fieldAt this point, Packers fans are all too aware of neck/cervical injuries and the effects and repercussions of returning to play after an injury and surgery.  At this point, Ted Thompson has had likely six neck injuries and four surgeries, all with various results, some positive but mostly negative. The latest was defensive linemen Johnny Jolly, who after battling a prescription drug addiction was a surprising addition to the Packers roster last year.  News recently came out that Jolly has been cleared by his doctors to return to play and now the question is whether or not the Packers will take him up on that offer.  However, many fans don’t really know the diagnosis, treatment or outcome of neck injuries and surgeries and it’s important to really understand the injury before deciding whether or not Jolly should or could return to the Packers.  As a matter of disclosure, I am not a doctor but an immunologist, so while I do have plenty of experience in the medical field I am not qualified to present a medical opinion; below is research I have done from a variety of medical journals and other sources.

Packer players who suffered a neck injury under the Ted Thompson regime

1. Terrance Murphy: Murphy suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit by Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on a fumble recovery off of a return and was later discovered to have spinal stenosis, which ultimately ended his career.

2. Jeremy Thompson: Thompson suffered a neck injury during a practice after sustaining a collision with running back Kregg Lumpkin, who from reports suffered temporary paralysis on the field, necessitating the need for an ambulance and an overnight stay at Bellin Hospital.  Thompson subsequently also announced his retirement after the injury.  On a completely unrelated note, Thompson is now a medical student at the University of North Carolina, so the stereotype of football players being dumb jocks isn’t always true.

3. Nick Collins: Perhaps the most famous Packer to suffer a neck injury, Collins collided with Carolina running back Johnathan Stewart from above and suffered temporary paralysis. Collins spent the night at a hospital in Carolina before rejoining the team on IR.  Collins then had single fusion neck surgery to fuse the C3 and C4 vertebrae together.  Collins was subsequently released by the Packers and while he hasn’t officially retired, no team has been willing to even try him out, which indicates the severity of the injury.

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.