Green Bay Packers 2010 OTAs – Change is in the Air All Green Bay Packers All the Time

As the Green Bay Packers’ 2010 voluntary OTAs get underway, it’s apparent the Packers coaching staff have some different positional ideas for this year’s defense.

Will Blackmon is moving to safety, Ryan Pickett is moving to left DE, BJ Raji is back at nose tackle, Brady Poppinga was the first team LOLB and Jarret Bush is now strictly a corner (insert joke here…).

The defensive line change was the first one revealed, where the Packers have decided to have BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett switch positions. For the foreseeable future, BJ Raji will be at the position he was drafted to play, nose tackle, and Jenkins will move out to left defensive end.

For his part, Pickett said all the right things, “Personally I think because B.J. is more of a nose and his body type, I’m a little taller, a little different style than him,” Pickett said. “They thought that would be the best move to help the team. and I was like, ‘All right, that’s fine,’ even though that wasn’t my first desire to play end.”

Raji, on the other hand, could barely hide his glee. When asked about the reasons, Raji said, “I don’t know why, I didn’t even ask. It was kind of exciting when they told me. I just went from there. “I could easily maximize my potential there…I just feel like I have more of a range to get to the ball.”

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac downplayed the move and stopped short of calling the switch permanent, saying the ultimate decision will be made by Head Coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers. It could be (permanent),” Trgovac said. “This is the time of year you want to do things like that. I think B.J. and ‘Pick’ are, for their size, very versatile guys. We want to make sure that they both have work at nose and end.

My perspective on the move is this. I think it’s mostly about the Packers’ most popular F word – flexibility, and partially about creating more of an inside pass rush. We all know how the Packers love to have interchangeable parts, especially on the line on both sides of the ball.

Beyond that, I think this move is all about Raji. Wherever Pickett plays, he brings the same resume – run-stopper. Raji, on the other hand, represents the best chance for creating an inside push and not letting opposing quarterbacks have a nice comfortable pocket to step up into (see Brett Favre and Kurt Warner). He has shown the ability to do so at the college level, where even double-teams were often not enough to stop Raji from penetrating and getting in the quarterback’s face.

Hampered by the ankle injury last year, Raji was never able to get that strong push he needed to put offensive linemen into a backpedal, instead, getting stood up and entangled in way too many stand-offs. The Packers certainly are hoping they get to see the BJ Raji they deemed worthy of the ninth pick of the draft. And they plan to give him EVERY chance to do so.

As for Brady Poppinga lining up with the first team defense, I think this is simply the Packers sending Brad Jones a message: You will not be handed the starting LOLB job – you will have to work hard, be hungry and win the job. I don’t think there’s any more to this move than that.

The third change came as more of a surprise, with the Packers moving Will Blackmon to safety. I call it a surprise because Blackmon has never played safety in the pros or college (he actually played wide receiver as a college senior, but never safety).

I’ve never been a big fan of Blackmon as a cornerback, so I’m curious to see how this works out. He has always carried more weight than the typical cornerback, so his body type fits better at safety. Blackmon expressed via twitter that he doesn’t care where he plays, as long as he’s on the field.

I think the Packers definitely consider Blackmon their most skilled returner (especially on punts), so they want to find the defensive position where he can help the team most. While Blackmon is still rehabbing his knee, he has been spending classroom time with safeties coach Darren Perry and is enthusiastic about the move.

I believe moving Blackmon to safety is all about not getting themselves in a position like last year, where because of injuries, they had to put players out on the field they weren’t totally comfortable with. I see Blackmon as a free safety backup to Nick Collins, with Bigby and Burnett manning the strong safety spot.

As mentioned previously, Jarret Bush will no longer be thrown to the wolves as a safety, and with Harris, Williams, and Lee back on the field, perhaps this is finally the year Packers fans get their wish – Bush is sent packing.

Strictly speculating, there could be another change in the Packers defensive backfield that follows Blackmon’s move. I believe you could see Derrick Martin used at cornerback, where he started his career. According to Martin’s agent, he believes Martin’s best position is at nickle or dime corner, and it’s safe to say he would be an improvement over what the Packers were forced to throw out there late last season.

As a special teams demon, I could also envision Martin as an effective blitzer out of the defensive backfield, freeing up Charles Woodson to cover the #1 receivers when needed. And he would still give the Packers some additional insurance at safety. And just as importantly, this move could be the final nail in Jarret Bush’s coffin.


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


26 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers 2010 OTAs – Change is in the Air

  1. I was wondering if the move of Blackmon and Martin has something to do with what they see from the other CB”s, Ford, Underwood, Bell.

    1. It can’t be Ford – he’s awful. Underwood really started to come on towards the end of last season and I happen to think Bell can be pretty good, so that might be part of it…

  2. I think you are off on Ford, Watching him at pratise I liked what I saw.
    He is a above average athlete that was going to pass Underwood at the end of the season until he sprianed his knee.

    1. Hmm, I’m going by memory of last preseason and he was just horrid. Haven’t seen him since then, so don’t have much else to say. What practice/s did you see him at?

        1. Didn’t get the reference.

          As far as Ford, he’s got the same problem as Bush. He’s kinda able to stay with his man, but once the ball is in the air, he’s clueless. He just has no idea where the ball is…

          He can work the flat route. Other than that, he can’t play. He can’t even cover more than 7 yards downfield in zone. He reacts too slow…

          1. That didn’t quite get to the point I was trying to make. I need to learn how to control my sarcastic commentary before I click on post. I was trying to say Ford is begining to get a lot of commentary based on very little actual success. Just like Spitz. As you know I am not a fan of Spitz, after 4 full years he has accomplished nothing.

            Is anyone going to LZ Lambeau over the weekend?

  3. I wish I could remember what day it is, and you ask me something from last year?
    Oh he was burned there is no doubt about that. What I was watching is his speed, quickness, agility. I don’t put to much stock in how these UDFA type player specially CB’s do in preseason. I just watch what thye do physically more than anything.
    I DO remember reading in December last year that FOrd was moving up and playing more in the Dime Role, Passing Underwood who they were unhappy with.
    Maybe it was just done to fire up Underwood, but I liked what I saw.
    Ford is a better athlete then Williams, I want to see what a full year in the NFL has done for him.

    1. they supposedly were unhappy with Underwood’s work habits, so what you say is certainly possible. But I haven’t seen anything from Ford that makes me think he can play. Maybe this year will be different.

  4. Jenkins will remain at right end in base and 3 technique in the subs.

  5. Well, now that Jolly has screwed up his case in Texas, we can all see very clearly why TT was messing around with the Dline. What an amoral ass. Good ridence you stupid jerk.

    LZ Lambeau is going to be a great weekend and it is finally going to be warm and dry. Thank you Packers for a great time!

      1. And now comes this – Bent has had arthrscopic surgery on his anklle. Rehab get him into camp two weeks after the start of pre-season.

        TT had to know about Jolly’s upcoming issues.

  6. Re: Jolly-I said the same thing about whether the team knew what he was doing and drafted to replace him(even though at the time I was furious with the Neal selection, it makes sense now).

    Excellent analysis Al. Thanks!

    1. I’ll bet they have some interns or even employees who have the task of following what the players are doing by tracking their activities…

  7. I’m stoked BJ is stoked about manning the nose. That’s generally thought to be the most thankless position in the 34. For him to have a ‘shit eatin’ grin’ on his face when he was told of the move is a great sign.

    I have faith this kid can absolutely DESTROY the pocket (just going off College film, when he was 100%). I’m really looking for our LB’s to shine as a collective unit this season. No reason our 3 can’t ‘occupy’ 5 most of the time on the D-line.

    Totally agree about the Brady thing. If they trot him out with the #1’s in August… I’ll worry!

    Blackmon @ Safety = why not. Theoretically I could see him being an effective ‘ballhawk’… we’ll see.

    Great stuff Al!

    GBP 4 LIFE

    1. Thanks for stoppin’ in Fitz! My only worry about Raji is that he didn’t play against great competition in college, but hopefully with a year under his belt he’s ready to wreak havoc…

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