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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6

June

Assessing the Green Bay Packers Quarterback Situation

Matt Flynn & Scott Tolzien

Flynn and Tolzien should return as familiar faces behind Rodgers in 2014

For a team that whose quarterback fortunes have been touched by the football Gods themselves over the past 20+ years, it would seem that the Green Bay Packers could probably write the book on how to handle and develop the most important position on the field.

Alas, they learned a tough lesson in 2013 and one that hopefully will set up a more ideal situation with their signal callers in 2014.  I tend to like to revisit history quite a bit so let’s recap the quarterback situation last year for the Packers.

Heading into 2013, Green Bay had Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman set to go at quarterback and there was little question about whether they would all be on the roster, just a matter of how.

There was hesitation about Harrell after his subpar performances during the 2012 season but his experience in the offense was enough to instill the coaching staff’s confidence in him.  Coleman was expected, by many, to step up and make a jump between his first and second seasons.  Still, he was a possibility to land on the team’s practice squad again.

Neither of them made it to week one and questions began to fly about why so much was expected out of such mediocre players.  Were the Packers losing their luster in being able to develop young passers?  Both Harrell and Coleman were released during the preseason and the Packers signed veteran Vince Young, who had not played at all the season prior.  Young was a complete dud and the Packers released him after the last preseason game.  The Packers then turned to Seneca Wallace to back up Rodgers but he had no time to practice or play with his new teammates in a game situation before the season started.

While Rodgers had missed a few games up until then, there was little reason to be too concerned about who was behind #12 as he had a strong history of being healthy and available.  Unfortunately, Rodgers’ collarbone wasn’t quite as strong and was broken during a week six game against the Chicago Bears.  Suddenly the Packers and their fans were in unfamiliar territory:  they would have to rely on their backup quarterback for an extended period of time.

8

July

Packers Undrafted Rookie Scouting Report: Angelo Pease, RB K-State

I had so much fun doing player profiles for the 2013 draft I figured that I should give the undrafted rookies the same treatment; after all, since they are definitely on the Packers roster, why take a closer look going into to training camp.  So far I’ve done video analysis on Pease, Lane Taylor, Tyrone Walker and Patrick Lewis, but I’m open to doing more if commenters have requests, however, since most of these guys are from small schools or relatively unknown, finding quality tape on them has been quite difficult.

Player Information:

  • Angelo Pease, RB K-State
  • 5’10”/211 lbs
  • Hometown – Cairo, Georgia

 

Pro Day:

  • 40 yard: 4.50
  • 20 yard: 2.57
  • 10 yard: 1.62
  • Bench: 25
  • Vertical: 32
  • Broad:113
  • Shuttle: 4.44
  • 3-cone: 7.08

 

Introduction:

While many fans were exuberant when the Packers draft not one but two running backs in the draft in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, it was actually the undrafted rookie running back that made a name for himself during the rookie camp.  Angelo Pease even got the notice of head coach Mike McCarthy: “That’s a big time cut.  Frankly I thought it was Eddie Lacy, the way he dropped his weight and hit the hole.  Those are the things we’re looking for.”  Of course, flashing in shorts against a bunch of guys with zero NFL experience has to be taken with a grain of salt, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently predicted that Pease could land on the practice squad, if not the 53 man roster itself.

Media Analysis:

None.  Talk about under the radar

 

Video:

Analysis:

  • The jump cut is his best move and he loves to use it, even sometimes at the expense of yardage and losing momentum
  • Definitely not a focal point of the offense, only 96 carries in his college career
  • Good blocker given K-States’ spread offense; whether he knows how to pick up the blitz in a west coast offense is a different issue
  • Has experience as a wildcat quarterback, take that for what its worth.  As a former quarterback in high school I’m not surprised he looks a lot more at ease playing quarterback than at running back.  
14

June

What Will Mike McCarthy’s Offense Look Like in 2013?

rodgers_mccarthy“We’ll be better; I promise you. You can write that down.”

That’s what Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy decreed in regards to the running game during a press conference on Tuesday. Whether the offense is successful in carrying out this objective is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the commitment is being made, and it’s clear the Packers offense will have a different identity than it did in 2012.

We’ve seen a number of major changes occur so far in this offseason. First and foremost, the wide receiver corps will look significantly different with Greg Jennings out of the line-up. Fans can say what they will about his injury history, but his performance history speaks volumes. Not having him on the field isn’t insurmountable – they’ve handled things without him already – but it will change the nature of the offense. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones will now be the primary nucleus of the wide receivers.

Next, the Packers have two new ground weapons courtesy of Ted Thompson and the 2013 NFL Draft. Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin were a couple of big value picks and should add some much-needed “oomph” to the running game. Additionally, DuJuan Harris will be riding some of his rookie momentum while Alex Green looks to get healthy. (James Starks is still in the wings, but it’s hard to put much stock into him at this point.)

To accommodate this influx of talent and to help fix the problems on the offensive line, McCarthy flipped his guards and tackles. His goal was to not only put his best pass blockers on Aaron Rodgers’ blindside, but also to get his best run blockers on the strong side of the formation. It’s a bold move, but one that was much less risky to make at the start of offseason training, rather than later.

Finally, we look towards the tight ends. These players haven’t received much attention lately, yet they might have some of the biggest question marks above their heads. Jermichael Finley is in a “contract” year and has bulked up a bit, according to reports. Meanwhile, Andrew Quarless seems to finally be back at 100% after severely injuring his knee a year and a half ago.

“I have all the confidence in the world he’s ready,” McCarthy said after an OTA practice in May, “and when you watch him play he’s probably moving better than before the injury.”

22

May

Packers LB Desmond Bishop: DPOY or Playing for a Different Team?

Desmond Bishop

Will Packers LB recover from his injury and be on the team come September?

This story from Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop is extremely well written. After reading it, you can’t help but like the guy even more than you probably already do.

In the story, Bishop says one of his goals is to win defensive player of the year in 2013.

Unfortunately, as entertaining as the story is, it doesn’t really address the main question I have about Bishop as the Packers open OTAs: What are the odds that he’s actually on the team once the season starts?

Reports surfaced during the NFL draft that the Packers were trying to trade Bishop. Several moves the Packers made in the offseason — bringing back A.J. Hawk, re-signing Brad Jones for $4 million, adding another inside linebacker in the draft — made it appear that the Packers might not be too confident in Bishop’s chances of returning from the torn hamstring he suffered last preseason.

“Trade or release Bishop?” you’re probably asking. “But I thought he was supposed to boost the Packers physicality and automatically improve the inside linebacker corp?”

In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. But how perfect is the Packers’ world when it comes to injuries lately? Not very. J.C. Tretter, one of Green Bay’s fourth-round draft picks, just snapped his ankle in a fumble-recovery drill. Two of the past three seasons have seen the team ravaged by injuries. The scuttle around the Packers is that Ted Thompson won’t hesitate to jettison players who are hampered by injuries.

I suppose the release of D.J. Smith last month is a good sign for Bishop staying in Green Bay. Then again, Smith was also coming off a season-ending injury. Perhaps the Packers also won’t hesitate to cut ties with Bishop like they did with Smith if doubts about Bishop’s health linger further into the summer.

Look, it’s still May. This Bishop story has several chapters that have yet to be written. If you want to read another positive piece on Bishop’s outlook, check this out from Jason Hirschhorn at Acme Packing Company.

Dunne and Hirschhorn’s rosy outlook on Bishop could very well prove to be true. I hope it does. A healthy Bishop playing like he did in 2011 would do wonders for the defense.