Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Final Preseason look at the 53 Man Roster

OK, so we're a night away from the final preseason game. It's the last chance for the players on the bubble to make an impression. My final 53 probably looks pretty close to the others you've seen around. I have the Packers keeping 1 FB, 6WR and 5TE. I have made some more changes to my last stab at it though. I have Ray Doninguez as the last OL. I know a lot of my fellow bloggers have Evan Dietrich Smith as their final guy in. I just can't see it. His only chance in my opinion is if he makes the team instead of McDonald. I can't see 3 centers being kept. I also can't see Dietrich-Smith being kept as a backup LS. I've also seen a couple people mentioning they don't think Donald Driver will make the team. I'll eat my hat if he's cut. So, here it is, rip it apart people. (Starters in italics)

QB (3) – Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB (3) – Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
FB (1) – John Kuhn
WR (6) – Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tori Gurley
TE (5) – Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor
OL (9) – Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T J Lang, Scott Wells, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Nick McDonald, Ray Dominguez
DE (4) – Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, CJ Wilson, Jarius Wynn
DT (2) – BJ Raji, Howard Green
OLB (4) – Clay Mathews, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto
ILB (4) – AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Robert Francois, DJ Smith
CB (5) – Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Josh Gordy, Davon House
S (4) – Morgan Burnett, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush
Specialists (3) – Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

My Practice Squad (8) Chris Campbell, Jamari Lattimore, Brandian Ross, Ricky Elmore, Diondre Borel, Shaky Smithson, Caleb Schlauderaff, Brandon Saine

So, where am I wrong? Let me have it, Packer Fans!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On Wearing Jerseys

So, there was a commercial on tonight that compared wearing a jersey to a game was akin to wearing a cop uniform to watch Law and Order. It got me thinking. Am I crazy for wearing a jersey to support my team? Is it wrong that my wife and kids all have jerseys they enjoy wearing to root on the Packers? No, it’s not. It’s a great way to support your team. As my blog background photo makes obvious, I’m a jersey wearer. I own a total of four Packers jerseys; a white Charles Woodson, a green Jermichael Finley, a throwback Aaron Rodgers and a green Atari Bigby (he’ll be missed). I fully believe that the throwback Rodgers jersey and my playoff beard are a part of why the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Don’t tell me otherwise because it won’t do any good. Because of this commercial, I started doing some internet searches to find out what the rest of the world thought about wearing jerseys to support your team. I found all kinds of lists and rules on how and when I can wear. Well, I think most of them are full of crap and it’s time to set them straight. Here are some of the “jersey rules” I found and what I think of them.

1. You cannot wear the jersey of a player no longer on the team unless they retired from the team or are in the HOF – This one I actually agree with for the most part. If you have a Favre jersey, you need to put it away until he gets his gold jacket.
2. Don’t wear your jersey in the offseason except on special days like draft day, etc. – I paid a lot of money for my jerseys; I’ll wear them whenever I want, thank you very much. Also, I’ve found wearing Packers gear makes it easy for friends to find me when we’re meeting up places.
3. Don’t tuck your jersey in and don’t buy the wrong size – These fashion rules are both valid. Jerseys just do not look good tucked in unless they’re on a player in the field. And as far as sizing goes, football jerseys are not flattering unless you’re wearing pads underneath. Remember they are designed to be worn over pads and that means the sizing will be different than what you’re used to. In other words, TRY IT ON.
4. You must buy only authentic jerseys. No replicas – This is another rule I just can’t understand. I can see making sure you’re buying a licensed replica jersey so it actually supports the team, but I don’t have the $275 to shell out for an authentic jersey.
5. Be original/Don’t go mainstream/Don’t buy the most popular player’s jersey – I get this, I really do. I have an Atari Bigby jersey. I got my Jermichael Finley jersey before he became a star. My next jersey will probably be a more obscure player. But I can’t hate on people for buying their favorite player’s jersey just because he’s popular. Will there be too many Rodgers and Matthews jerseys at Lambeau? I don’t think there’s any such thing. Besides, like I said before, it’s your money so buy whatever jersey you want. Just wear it with pride every game day and I’ll be a happy cheesehead. As long as you don’t hate on my throwback Randy Wright once I find it.

And finally, the silliest set of rules I’ve seen:

6. You’re not allowed to wear a jersey if you are over the age of 40 – This may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life. What magically changes the day you go from 39 to 40? NOTHING. Not a damn thing and you can’t tell me otherwise. Senior citizens, feel free to wear your jersey with pride!

Did I miss any important jersey rules? Let us know!

And don't forget to vote in this weeks poll. I'm sad to say that Packer fans still like Brett Favre more than Lynn Dickey or Randy Wright.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Four Things to Watch in the Packers Third Preseason Game.

Well, I did have five things to watch for in Friday’s game against the Colts, but with the news that Ryan Grant's contract was restructured earlier in the month we’re down to four. With all 2.5 million of the salary due to Grant being guaranteed I just can’t see him being cut this season. That doesn’t mean that Demitri Nance has no shot at making the team, although I do think it means that it won’t be at the expense of Ryan Grant. On to the four things…

How does T. J. Lang play after getting all the 1st team reps at LG in practice?

Earlier this week I said that LG was one of my biggest concerns for the Packers heading into the regular season. Soon after, it was announced that T. J. Lang would get all of the 1st team reps over Derek Sherrod. It will be interesting to see If Lang has a noticeable improvement over his performance in the game against Arizona. Here’s hoping the Line as a whole looks better

Chastin West and Tori Gurley on ST coverage.  Does either of them play well enough to earn a roster spot over Brett Swain?

I’ve made it known that I’m a Chastin West fan. I also like what I’ve seen out of Tori Gurley the last couple weeks. Neither of them has a real shot at making this team unless they prove they can hold their own on special teams. I’ve heard good things about Gurley’s play on the ST units over the past couple days (He’s blocked 3 punts in practice). I do think the Packers will keep a 6th WR this year. It’s just a matter of if West and/or Gurley play well enough on ST to unseat Swain. The point could be rendered moot if Swain can’t get healthy in camp.

Josh Gordy and Brandian Ross playing to beat out Pat Lee for the final roster spot at CB.

I’ve said it before. I’m not a fan of Pat Lee. He can run just fine, but he has issues actually playing the position of CB. I’ve just watched him get beat too many times. I’m hoping this preseason is the last for Lee with the Packers. Ross made a big splash on Family night, picking off an Aaron Rodgers pass and running it back for a touchdown. He also had a pick against the Cardinals (I hope he learns about taking a knee in the end zone).  Gordy’s seen playing time with the 1st team defense in the preseason games and done well with it. He had a pick, a sack and a PD against the Browns.

Jarrett Bush’s play at Safety. Is it good enough to allow the Packers to only keep 3 true safeties on the roster?

I love Jarrett Bush, I really do. I just don’t think he can play man to man corner in the NFL. He’s very good when he can face the ball as evidenced by the interception he made in the big game last year. He’s also a special teams demon which is something this team needs. He just doesn’t do well when he has to turn his back on the QB and run with a WR. I really think his best position is safety. But, if he can back up at both spots, that opens up another spot on the roster for Ross or Gordy.

What are you watching for in the Colts game Friday? Oh, don't forget to vote in the poll (guess who voted for Randy Wright).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Positions of Concern for the Packers

Is T J Lang the answer at left left guard?
I'm not one to question Ted Thompson. I was ready for Brett Favre to go a season before the trade to the Jets. I've always been a fan of building through the draft. As they say "In Ted We Trust." But, I can't get away from my concerns at two positions, left guard and defensive end.

This offseason saw the departure of the last two players to start at LG for the Packers with Daryn Colledge signing with Arizona and Jason Spitz signing with Jacksonville. The preseason has seen third year G/T T. J. Lang and rookie first round pick Derek Sherrod alternate on first team reps. Most people think Lang has the lead in the race to start the season with the first team offense. I'm not sold on either Lang or Sherrod though. I'm sure Sherrod has a lot of talent, but coming into camp so late because of the lockout I think he's too far behind. He's looked slow and at times seems to come off the ball too high. This has led to a lot of pressure on the QB. I think he has a future with the team for sure, I just think both Sherrod and the team would benefit from him learning from the sidelines this season. I'm hopeful that we'll see Lang clean up his play if he gets more reps with he first team. If Lang doesn't improve Aaron Rodgers is in trouble.

B. J. Raji is one of the top 3-4 ends in the league. The problem is you need two DEs in a 3-4 defense. With the loss of Cullen Jenkins in free agency, Mike Neal has inherited the starting spot opposite Raji. Neal has all the talent in the world and he's played well when he's been healthy. He just hasn't been healthy much. He went down early last season with a shoulder injury and ended up on I.R. This year he hurt his knee in a non contact practice drill and is listed as day to day. Backup C. J. Wilson left the Cardinals game with a concussion but he should be ready for opening day. Jarius Wynn is serviceable in the rotation but isn't more than that. I think if all four can stay healthy the position will be ok, but the Packers are an injury away from needing T J Lang to play defense again.

What concerns do you have for the Packers' upcoming season? 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts from the first half of the Packers/Cards Game

I sure hope the Packers use the no huddle more. It’s the only thing the first team has been successful with so far this preseason. They really seem sluggish coming out of the huddle for some reason. Then they go no huddle, Rodgers calls the right play every down and it’s an easy touchdown. I like the back shoulder fade.

I do worry that Rodgers will rely on Finley too much again this year.

Grant looks like he’s rounding into shape. Seemed slow at first, but he made a great cut and run during the TD drive. I think he’ll be ready for the regular season.

I’m concerned about the offensive line. Way too many sacks and pressures so far. Lang has looked better than Sherrod so far, but I’m still not comfortable with him protecting Rodgers.  I know it’s too early, but I wish they’d found a way to keep Colledge. 

ALEX GREEN! What a great cut on that screen play. He ran with good power to score the TD. He also has amazing hair. I can't wait to see what he says about his first Lambeau Leap.

I’m not happy with the run defense so far. Beanie Wells had way too many big runs in the first half. Dodged a bullet with CJ Wilson. Concussions are bad, but unless it’s severe he’ll be ready for the season opener. I have concerns about the backups at pretty much every position in the front 7. Definitely a thinner team up front in my opinion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thanksgiving 1986: A Fan is Born

The year is 1986. I was 10 years old and torn between two teams, the Packers and the 49ers. See, dad was a big 49ers fan and they had Roger Craig, Jerry Rice and of course Joe Montana. The Packers had Randy Wright and a big legacy they weren’t living up to. But my mom was a huge Packers fan, and she got so into the games. Mom’s a bit of a screamer when it comes to football. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but when the game starts, the veins start popping out in her neck. It was hard not to root for the Packers when they were on TV because I loved my mom and she loved the Packers. But they sucked! I mean, look back at those years. What good came out of them aside from James Lofton?  So as a normal 10 year old, I told everyone I was a 49ers fan.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, 1986. Uncle Erick was down from Milwaukee. The Packers were on TV. It was a good day. Uncle Erick had the classic WI accent and I loved hearing him talk. We talked and talked about Lofton and how next year would be a good year for the Packers. He also talked about Mossy Cade, how he didn’t like Kenneth Davis (I totally disagreed, what a great name!). He also had a hunch Walter Stanley was going to have a big game against the Lions. And what a game he had. The two teams combined to score at least 17 points in every quarter. Walter Stanley was electric, catching 4 balls for 124 yards and 2 TDs. But nothing could stop the juggernaut that was the 1986 Detroit Lions and the Packers were down 10 in the 4th quarter. And then it happened. After a Wright to Carruth TD pass the defense forced a Lions punt. Stanley caught it and had some room. He cut back, he broke tackles, he just kept running. I remember it seemed to take forever. But he managed to run it back. It was electric. My mom had the biggest smile on her face I’d ever seen. And the Packers had a fan for life.

Ken's Take on the 2011 Packers 53 man roster

I won't get too wordsy on this one. This is how I think the roster will shake out barring any injuries in camp (I'm looking at you Mike Neal). And yes, I'm on the 5 TE bandwagon. You gotta keep your 53 best players. (Starters italicized)

QB (3)Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB (3)Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
FB (1) John Kuhn
WR (6) Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Chastin West
TE (5) Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor
OL (9) Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T J Lang, Scott Wells, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Nick McDonald, Chris Campbell
DE (4) Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, CJ Wilson, Jarius Wynn
DT (2) BJ Raji, Howard Green
OLB (4) Clay Mathews, Erik Walden, Brad Jones, Frank Zombo
ILB (4)AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Robert Francois, DJ Smith
CB (5) Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Josh Gordy, Davon House
S (4) Morgan Burnett, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush
Specialists (3) – Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Practice Squad Possibilities: Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley, Caleb Schlauderaff, Lawrence Guy, Cardia Jackson, Jay Ross, Brandian Ross, M D Jennings

Updated with news of Diyral Briggs being cut. Updated again with T J Lang in at LG and adding Harrell to the active roster.