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.

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17

June

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

Surviving Sunday with no Packers football.

Surviving Sunday with no Packers Football

It’s shorts season in Green Bay once again. That time of year when we read about some unlikely, unknown or underdog player that suddenly flashes a “ton of talent” and is the surprise of OTA or mini-camp practices. Media members, bloggers and fans get themselves all in a tizzy over the possibilities.

I first fell victim to this unrealistic euphoria in the summer of 2009, when this website was not even six months old. The object of my affection that summer was Jeremy Thompson, who while running around in shorts, had supposedly risen to the top of the depth chart at one of the OLB spots in the newly-instituted Dom Capers 3-4 defense. Thompson took the first snaps at the position, even before new first-round draft pick Clay Matthews. If you’d like a humorous stroll down OTA memory lane, you can read the article I wrote about Thompson at the time.

Once the pads came on in training camp, it became obvious the NFL-caliber skills were just not there. Thompson plummeted down the depth chart and saw very limited playing time in six games, recording one tackle. Then in December of 2009, he suffered an unfortunate career-ending neck injury.

The injury notwithstanding, Jeremy Thompson taught me a lesson that year: pay little attention to the unexpected “stars” of OTAs until a few weeks into training camp.

And that brings us to this week’s links, which are all about the players “making impresssions”  at OTAs.  The star of this year’s OTAs has supposedly has been Dezman Moses.  Moses and Terrell Manning were two linebackers mentioned to me as legitimate sleeper prospects by the head of NFL Scouting. The fact that the Packers got both of them excites me, but that’s as far as I’m taking it for now.

Without further ado, here are the best of this week’s Packers links:

From Ty Dunne at JSOnline .com, “Undrafted linebacker Dezman Moses impresses Packers.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN’s NFL North Blog devotes an entire column to the “rookie buzz” on  Packers #1 draft pick Nick Perry.

Texwestern over at AcmePackingCompany.com does a nice job summarizing the stroylines coming out of the first day of Packers OTAs.

Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee explores the new contact rules for OTAs and speaks with Mike McCarthy about where to draw the line.