2009 June : Packers Insider

Packers and McCarthy Make Donation to Baker University

June 27, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers organization have partnered to make a $100,000 donation to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., it was announced Thursday. This is the second year McCarthy and the Packers have made a donation to the university. mccarthy

“It’s an honor to be able to continue this support of Baker University,” said McCarthy. “To this day I continue to apply what I learned there, both in the classroom and in the college’s community. The lifelong lessons have been invaluable.”

(From Packers.com)

McCarthy, now in his fourth season as head coach of the Packers, earned a degree in business administration from the school and was an all-conference tight end and senior captain in 1986, helping lead the Wildcats to an NAIA Division II national runner-up finish. He was inducted to the school’s hall of fame Oct. 20, 2007.

The donation to Baker University will continue to aid the football program through its support of an endowment for a football scholarship in McCarthy’s name. The scholarship, first established last year, specifically will go to an incoming junior college athlete, like McCarthy was, who demonstrates the potential to make a meaningful impact on the program.

Players on last year’s team who were junior college transfers and benefitted from the contribution were Tyrell Spain, Charleston Dela Cruz and Kyle Rooks. Transfers for 2009 that will benefit are Brandon Hill and Verlain Betofe.

baker universityAdditionally, portions of the funds will go to current scholarship funding, as well as into a budget for enhancements to the football program, such as facility improvements.

“The Green Bay Packers’ and Mike’s yearly contribution has allowed us to improve in many areas,” said Mike Grossner, Baker University’s head coach. “It also allowed us to purchase some much needed weight equipment last summer for the George Shore Weight Room on the Baldwin City campus, which benefited the university as a whole.”

This is the third such donation this year for McCarthy and the Packers. Previously, a $100,000 donation was made to the Autism Society of Northeast Wisconsin (ASNEW) and to the Greenfield Neighborhood in McCarthy’s native Pittsburgh.

In 2008, in addition to Baker University, McCarthy and the Packers teamed up to make $100,000 donations to Pittsburgh’s Greenfield Neighborhood and to the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay.

The NFC North Belongs to the Green Bay Packers

June 27, 2009 by  
Filed under News

By Bryce McRae of KFFL.comkffl
on June 25, 2009

The Green Bay Packers will win the NFC North. OK, it’s early, but that’s the feeling I have.

Call me a homer, if you want. (I’ve been a Packers fan since Green Bay lost to Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers in the Jerry Rice fumble/non-fumble playoff game).  Sure, the Minnesota Vikings might be a hot pick, especially if (when?) Brett Favre signs with them. They have a strong offensive line, one of the best tackle tandems in the league, one of the top defensive ends, arguably the No. 1 running back, a decent receiving corps…what isn’t there to like?

Peterson has had injury problems in the past, though, they could be missing their tackles (Kevin Williams and Pat Williams) for the first four games of the year, and how much does Favre really have left if he does come back? He won’t be asked to win games, but he sure didn’t look great at the tail end of last year.

What is there to like with Green Bay then?

Aaron Rodgers should be given a longer leash this year. Some felt he held himself back to be more of a system quarterback instead of letting his own personality take over. He was the anti-Favre, so to speak. This A-Rod makes good decisions, and he has enough arm strength to make all the throws he’s asked to do. He also answered the injury question by playing through a shoulder injury last year and making some impressive throws.

Aaron Rodgers will have more freedom to take over

Aaron Rodgers will have more freedom to take over

Much was made of his inability to win a game in the fourth quarter last year, but that falls as much on the defense as it does on Rodgers. The defense couldn’t hold a late lead against the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings (twice, though one is on Mason Crosby), Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans.

The Packers have the best receiving corps in the division, maybe even the conference. They have a solid running back (Ryan Grant) and another who I feel should be better this year than in the past two (Brandon Jackson).

Their switch to a 3-4 defensive alignment is an obvious obstacle; I don’t feel it will be that bad, though. They plan on mixing in both 3-4 and 4-3 packages so they won’t be making the switch fullstop. They have a safety (Anthony Smith) with experience to help the younger guys (Nick Collins and Atari Bigby) with their duties as playcallers in the defense. They also have a solid linebacking corps, boosted by the addition of Clay Matthews. B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett (700-plus pounds combined) in the middle of the field should occupy plenty of blockers when they are on the field together, too.

In addition, any struggles likely would come in the first half as they are sorting out any problems on defense. Well, their first game comes against the Chicago Bears (not exactly an offensive powerhouse, even with Jay Cutler behind center); the next against the “mighty” Cincinnati Bengals and then the St. Louis Rams.

They have a big test against Minnesota (I’m already sick of hearing the Rodgers vs. Favre storylines leading into that one) in Week 4, but then they have two weeks to prepare for the Detroit Lions (shudder) and the Cleveland Browns. By then, I expect most of their problems in the shift to be worked out, at least the major ones.

Let’s not forget, either, they have one of the top cornerback tandems in the league (though Al Harris might struggle with the zone; he’s a far better man-to-man CB).

It is still way too early to make any firm predictions, but at this point, I’m happy with what the Packers have done (or not done). At this point, I think they come away with the division title, but as I said, it’s still early. What do you think? Vikings? Packers? Bears? Do the Lions have a shot?

Packers consider Poppinga’s worth

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The Green Bay Packers are going to need nine or 10 linebackers for their new 3-4 defense, but do they need one who’s making $1.9 million as a backup?

That’s a question General Manager Ted Thompson will have to ponder when it comes to determining Brady Poppinga’s worth this season.

A year after he signed a four-year, $13.4 million contract extension then retained his starting spot during a 2008 training camppoppinga battle with Brandon Chillar, Poppinga will head into training camp this season as a clear-cut backup with little or no chance at a starting spot unless there are injuries. With Aaron Kampman entrenched as the left outside linebacker and second-year pro Jeremy Thompson seemingly in a battle with rookie first-round draft pick Clay Matthews for the right outside spot, that leaves Poppinga as no higher than No. 4 on the depth chart at outside linebacker.

Since the switch to the 3-4, Poppinga has worked mostly as Kampman’s backup on the left side and hasn’t taken any snaps at either of the two inside positions, where Nick Barnett and A.J Hawk are the likely starters and Chillar and Desmond Bishop are the top backups.

Among the nonstarters in the linebacking corps, Poppinga has the highest base salary for this season at $1.9 million, although Matthews hasn’t signed yet. The very contract that Poppinga was so thrilled about last season could work against him now.

“That’s something you’d have to ask the front office,” Poppinga said during last week’s mandatory minicamp when asked whether his salary could make him expendable.

“I don’t know how they budget things out.”

For what it’s worth, the Packers’ new defensive coaching staff has raved about Poppinga and how he has adjusted to the new scheme.

Then again, outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene’s fallback phrase all offseason has been, “I like all my guys.”

Greene, whose intensity defined him during his 15-year NFL career, has found a protégé in Poppinga in terms of his attitude. A try-hard, passionate player, Poppinga resembles Greene in that way.

“Brady’s a glass eater,” Greene said. “He’s a head-buttin’, coconut-buttin’ guy. I like Brady. He’s got a great work ethic.”

It didn’t take long for new defensive coordinator Dom Capers to notice Poppinga’s approach.

“Brady’s an intense guy,” Capers said. “One thing about him is he has a real defensive temperament. He’s going to go 100 miles per hour, and you know you’re going to get everything he’s got, which I like.”

In terms of production, Popppinga’s first four seasons were marked by inconsistency. A former pass rusher in college at BYU, the fourth-round pick in 2005 has had little success when used in a pass-rushing role in the NFL. He has only three career sacks, and none of those came in the last two seasons.

As a strong-side linebacker in the old 4-3 scheme, he struggled at times in coverage. In fact, by midseason last year, Chillar had replaced Poppinga as the primary backer charged with covering the tight end.

Part of a 3-4 outside linebacker’s job is dropping into coverage when he’s not rushing the quarterback, but Poppinga said it’s far different from the man coverage he has played his first four seasons.

“It depends on the coverage, but most of the time it’s just (covering) the flat,” Poppinga said. “It’s not anything like what I used to do. There are various times where I will take the tight end, but taking the tight end 80 percent of the time like in the old scheme — no, it’s not that. The coverage responsibilities that we have are not extremely difficult, which allows you to play fast and physical at the point of attack and allows you to play without thinking.”

Poppinga is one of the few outside linebackers on the roster who has experience both as a pass rusher and in coverage. By comparison, Kampman almost never dropped into coverage as a defensive end in the old scheme.

“I think it really fits my strengths and abilities to a ‘T,’” Poppinga said.

The Packers have 12 linebackers on their offseason roster, so if they keep nine or 10 and don’t make any significant personnel changes this summer, it’s a good bet Poppinga will be back. However, backups making close to $2 million are expendable at times.

“I know when I signed my contract that it was pretty clear I was signing a contract to be a member of the team,” Poppinga said. “Whether or not I was a starter didn’t really come up. I understand the conditions in which I was operating when I signed the contract, and that’s fine with me.”

Jennings Gets $27 Million, 3 Year Contract Extension

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings just signed a three-year, $27 million contract extension.  Jennings reportedly received $16 million in guaranteed money on the deal, which adds three years to his current contract. greg-jennings-packers Jennings was set to receive a $535,000 base salary in 2009, the final year of the deal he signed as a second-round pick from Western Michigan in 2006.  The extension reportedly could be worth as much as $31 million if Jennings plays at a Pro Bowl level. Last year, Jennings, who caught a career-best 80 passes for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns, was an NFC Pro Bowl first alternate behind Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona’s Anquan Boldin, Carolina’s Steve Smith and Atlanta’s Roddy White.

“We’re excited for Greg Jennings’ future here; there is no doubt,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think Greg is a young man that has developed here in Green Bay and I can’t say enough about him personally. I like the way he goes about his business, and he is definitely well deserving of this contract.”

Jennings promised the blockbuster deal wouldn’t make him complacent and vowed to take his game to a higher level, acknowledging that fans will likely expect more. Jennings will be an unrestricted free agent again following the 2012 season.

The Packers still have a large class of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, a group that includes eight starters: Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, linebacker Aaron Kampman, nose tackle Ryan Pickett, left tackle Chad Clifton, left guard Daryn Colledge, center/guard Jason Spitz, safety Atari Bigby and defensive end Johnny Jolly. Tackle Tony Moll and return man Will Blackmon will also be unrestricted free agents after the season.