Category Archives: B. J. Raji

31

July

The old B.J. Raji has shown up early in Packers training camp

BJ Raji

Packers NT B.J. Raji has started strong in training camp.

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.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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3

June

Cory’s Corner: Micah Hyde deserves more than a test drive

Micah Hyde nearly ended the 49ers' season last year on this play.

Micah Hyde nearly ended the 49ers’ season last year on this play.

It’s good to see that Packers coach Mike McCarthy wants to see what he has in Micah Hyde.

The 23-year-old, who is about to embark on his second season in the league, is currently slotted with the starting unit starting at safety alongside Morgan Burnett in Organized Team Activities.

I like Micah Hyde.

He’s a tough fifth rounder that has worked his way up the ladder and it’s great to see that the Packers are awarding his work ethic and talent — even if that means not starting this year’s first round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Hyde can be a great example for a team that is desperate for a playmaking safety. Hyde showed last year that he isn’t afraid to creep up to the line of scrimmage and bottle up the run and he proved that while his coverage can get better, it still isn’t bad.

But this is why starting at safety this year is genius. It allows for Clinton-Dix to learn how to become a rookie and improve on his skills. And then after Tramon Williams becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, Hyde can slide into Williams’ starting cornerback role and Clinton-Dix should be able to take over full-time at safety.

Hyde may have been overlooked at Iowa but McCarthy and Ted Thompson know what this guy can do. He nearly halted San Francisco’s Super Bowl run with the tip of his fingers last year.

Is Hyde the final answer to fix the defense? No way. The answer to that question is how B.J. Raji plays, if Julius Peppers has enough gas in the tank to make the entire season and if Dom Capers shaving the playbook by 15 percent will do the trick.

McCarthy may be just saying that the Packers are giving Hyde a test drive at safety right now.

But if he’s not, it would make a lot of sense.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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10

May

Cory’s Corner: Davante Adams has top Packers grade on Day 2

Davante Adams had an NCAA-leading 24 touchdowns last year for Fresno State.

Davante Adams had an NCAA-leading 24 touchdowns last year for Fresno State.

The Packers have one of the best receiving tandems in the league in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

However, after that is a big question mark.

Which is why the Packers went with Fresno State wideout Davante Adams with the 53rd overall pick. But Adams isn’t just going to push Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 6-foot-1 wideout, who led the NCAA with 24 TDs last year, win the third receiver job — which is pretty important in the Packers offense.

Even though Randall Cobb went down with a broken leg and only played in six regular season games last year, James Jones still racked up 93 targets.

Adams comes from a pass-happy Fresno State offense that was led by the strong arm and quick release of Derek Carr — two qualities that Aaron Rodgers has. And he also proved that he can stretch the field with 18 plays of 25 yards or more and 37 plays of 15 yards or more.

The reason I like Adams is because he was also a star basketball player growing up. He understands not only how to get open but how to stay open. That box-out mentality is something that Rodgers is really going to love when those two get on the same page.

Davante Adams: B+

 

Khyri Thornton (grabbing jersey) only had a 1/2 sack for Southern Mississippi last year.

Khyri Thornton (No. 98 grabbing jersey) only had a 1/2 sack for Southern Mississippi last year.

Seeing as how the Packers signed B.J. Raji to a one-year $4 million prove-it contract, after turning down a long-term deal for $8 million per year, the defensive front is a question mark.

If Raji has a big year, how motivated will he be to come back to Green Bay? Will he come back to the Packers on a hometown discount?

Just to protect themselves, the Packers made a nice insurance move and picked the very versatile Southern Missippi defensive tackle Khyri Thornton with the 85th overall pick. I say very versatile because he can play anywhere on the defensive line, which is great for a guy that “Flies all over the field,” according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

6

May

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson averages a draft whiff a year

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

This will be Ted Thompson’s 10th NFL Draft as the Packers general manager. He has been arguably the biggest lightning rod for criticism over the years.

There is inherent value in every round of the draft, but the most consistent value lies in rounds 1-3, which is where I also focus my attention.

Thompson did a masterful job early on. When you land a guy like Aaron Rodgers as your first pick to begin your new job, things are looking pretty good. He added safety Nick Collins and wide receiver Terrence Murphy, who were both forced to leave pro football early after suffering neck injuries.

The next year, Thompson did another excellent job by adding fifth overall pick in linebacker A.J. Hawk, second rounders in guard Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings and third round guard Jason Spitz. The only guy that was a question mark was third round linebacker Abdul Hodge because injuries forced him to only start one game in four NFL seasons.

But after hitting so many home runs in his first two seasons, Thompson was due for some whiffs. And that’s exactly what happened in 2007. Justin Harrell, arguably the worst pick of Thompson’s career, started just two of 14 games in his three-year career. It was a little head scratching that the Packers even used a first round pick on Harrell, who entered the league hurt after tearing his biceps at Tennessee.

Brandon Jackson is another strikeout. The former Nebraska track star/football player was able to play bit roles but is now looking for a job. James Jones gave the Packers a good return on its third-round investment. He proved he could start but was never capable of winning the top receiver job. The final whiff of 2007 is Aaron Rouse. The safety played just three seasons before signing with the now-defunct United Football League.

The following year, there were two more whiffs sandwiched in between a couple of home runs. Obviously, second rounder Jordy Nelson has carved out a pretty nice career as one of Rodgers’ go-to targets. However, second rounder Brian Brohm, after not being able to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, is now playing quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. The other miss was second round cornerback Patrick Lee, who only started one game in his Green Bay career. The other great get that Thompson secured was third rounder Jermichael Finley. Although his mouth got in the way early on, Finley was one of the most athletic tight ends in the game when healthy.

23

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

Mike Tanier is one of my favorite, and one of the most underrated, NFL writers on the web. Earlier this week he had a brilliant idea that I am now going to rip off, expand, and give a Packers’ slant.

Tanier tried to come up with the worst mock draft ever. He did a pretty good job, too. Most of his selections made little sense and would probably cause fanbases to unleash a stream of Twitter rage should their teams actually draft any of the players Tanier suggested.

For the Packers, Tanier selected LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Why? Because the Packers need a backup quarterback and what better place to find one that in the first round of the NFL draft!

Tanier’s worst mock draft ever only lasted one round and covered all 32 NFL teams. I’m going to take a shot at creating the worst mock draft ever for all seven rounds, but only pick for the Packers.

Will I strike gold and recreate the awfulness of the Justin Harrell first-round selection in 2007? Do I have the knowledge and foresight to find someone as terrible as Jerron McMillian in the middle rounds? My goal is to have draft pundits lauding me for finding the next great awful player in the second round like Ted Thompson did with Brian Brohm in 2008.

Here we go:

1st round
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Because when you have Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Jonathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris and glaring holes on defense, you should definitely draft another running back in the first round. Perhaps if the Packers stock their roster with running backs, Aaron Rodgers will become expendable and Thompson can trade him to Seattle for the Seahawks entire defense. Oh, and any time you can draft a running back in the first round who “lacks exceptional skills” and is compared to Marion Barber III by NFL.com, you have to do it.

2nd round
David Yankey, G, Stanford
Who cares if Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are doing fine at both guard positions? The Packers need more guards! And drafting Yankey might entice the Packers to move Lang to center, because whenever the Packers start unnecessarily shuffling offensive linemen around, it always works out well.

16

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

The following is a transcript of a hidden camera conversation from Packers GM Ted Thompson’s office on the opening day of NFL free agency.

(Knock on the door. The Packers front office team enters Thompson’s office. Thompson is watching “True Detective” on his office television)

Thompson: Why did nobody tell me about this “True Detective” show before? This is amazing. I didn’t know Woody from Cheers was such a good actor. And how about Matthew McConaughey?! The guy can actually act when he keeps his shirt on. Yellow King?! I want to change our nickname from the Packers to the Yellow Kings!

Scout: Um, sir….we didn’t tell you about the show because you only allow us to watch film of college players nobody else has ever heard of. And free agency is now officially open.

Thompson: Shhhh! This episode is more intense than the last few minutes of Super Bowl XLV.

Scout: But sir, we’ve already lost Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. They’re off the market.

Thompson: Really? They signed like 7 seconds after free agency officially opened? That’s some quick negotiating. Because no NFL team would ever cheat and use the three-day window to talk to agents to actually work out a contract, right?

Scout: Ummm…..

Thompson: How much did they go for?

Scout: Houston for $35 million to the Bears and Jones $30 million to the Colts.

Thompson: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That’s hilarious. No, seriously. How much did they sign for?

Scout: Sir, I was being serious.

Thompson: Dammit, you do this every year. You tell me who signed right after free agency opens and you make up some wild and silly number. Just tell me the real number.

Scout: But sir, that is the real number. I wasn’t kidding. Every year we have this same conversation 5 minutes after free agency opens.

Thompson: How about that other guy people want us to sign…what’s his name. Something to do with birds…

Scout: Jarius Byrd, sir. He signed with New Orleans for $54 million.

Thompson: I see. I can’t wait to see the headlines after the Super Bowl: “Jarius Byrd leads Saints to Super Bowl win.” Or maybe “Lamarr Houston makes people forget about the ’86 Bears.”

Scout: Sir, don’t you think we maybe should’ve gotten in on some of these signings? People are getting mad on Twitter.

14

March

BJ Raji Signs 1-year, $4 million contract with Packers

B.J. Raji 2012

B.J. Raji

The Packers and Ted Thompson continue to resign their own guys (much to the dismay of Frank Schaub apparently), Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji has resigned with the team for a 1-year, $4 million contract; specifics of the deal have not been made public but this post will be updated to reflect incoming news.

 

Raji has largely been criticized for his lackluster play since teasing fans with his potential in early in his career and being dissatisfied playing in a 3-4 scheme where defensive linemen rarely get the accolades or attention of the 4-3 brethren.  The icing on the cake for fan scorn was walking away a multi-year deal that was supposed to pay him roughly $8 million yearly, naturally this is all just hearsay and the structure of the deal (i.e. the guaranteed portion) might have been poor but nevertheless, an abysmal season after betting on himself drew the ire of fans and media alike.

Free agency apparently was ice cold for Raji as no reports have surfaced of him visiting any other team and Raji has not been linked or to be of interest to any other team (there were some rumors linking Raji to Oakland and Kansas city, with obvious connections in the front offices).  Last reported news from Raji prior to his signing was that he was “mulling” over a 1-year contract offer from the Packers.  From the looks of things, Raji was forced to take a 1-year “prove it” contract with the Packers as no other suitors came calling.  Without knowing guaranteed money and incentive clauses attached to the deal, this looks like a pretty good signing for the Packers, who get an experienced defensive linemen who will be playing hard for his pay day (although why this didn’t help last season is a mystery) and when at his best can be a disruptive force in the middle.

The Packers have been reported to be looking at Raji only as a nose tackle (where he has had the most success), which likely means Ryan Pickett is now less likely to be resigned (although the Packers might still resign Pickett if the price is right), with Josh Boyd most likely as the backup nose tackle.