2010 May : Packers Insider

Oates: Bulaga looks right on left side

May 24, 2010 by  
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May 25, 2010 ~By Tom Oates, Madison.com

~The Green Bay Packers’ draft class has been debated, graded and, at long last, observed on the practice field.

In the end, though, the grade given to general manager Ted Thompson’s latest rookie group will be determined by only one thing:

Can first-round pick Bryan Bulaga be the left tackle on offense for the next decade?

“Bryan Bulaga will play tackle in this league, I don’t have any question about that,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “If we had any question about that, he probably wouldn’t be here in Green Bay."

If Bulaga can handle the line’s most difficult and important position once veteran Chad Clifton runs out of gas, Thompson will get high marks for his draft.

Should Bulaga fail on the left side and yet have a long career at right tackle, Thompson will get a passing grade but not much more than that. And if Bulaga falls on his facemask, the draft will be judged a bust no matter what the other draftees do.

Early returns indicate Bulaga, an All-Big Ten Conference player at Iowa who was downgraded by some NFL teams for having short arms and suspect feet, has what it takes to be Clifton’s eventual replacement on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side.

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Packers: Potent, but Vulnerable

May 24, 2010 by  
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May 25, 2010 ~ By Dan Arkush, Pro Football Weekly

~Are the Green Bay Packers really armed and ready to grab the NFL throne from the New Orleans Saints in 2010?

According to the preseason forecast in the Pro Football Weekly/Yahoo! Sports Preview 2010 magazine (on sale in June) — as well as a growing number of well-respected national pigskin pundits — the answer is a resounding yes. Twenty-one of the team’s preferred 22 starters (everybody but converted LOLB Aaron Kampman, who signed with Jacksonville) are returning from a squad that really got its act together in the second half of the ’09 campaign with seven victories in the last eight regular-season games while averaging a whopping 30.8 points.

The way I see it, if Aaron Rodgers, who appears on the cusp of elite status among NFL quarterbacks, had not overthrown a wide-open Greg Jennings on the first play in overtime of the Packers’ wild-and-crazy wild-card loss to the Cardinals, it’s quite possible Green Bay could have stolen the Saints’ Super Bowl thunder a few months back.

Greg Jennings catches a TD pass against Arizona in the playoff game, with one hand. In overtime, he got deep for a game-winning long touchdown pass, but hesitated a half-step and Rodgers' pass was just over his hands. The season ended two plays later.

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Can Justin Harrell Last til September This Year?

May 24, 2010 by  
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May 25, 2010 ~ By Rob Demovsky, Press-Gazette

~Ask anyone in the Green Bay Packers organization about Justin Harrell, and the first word they utter is almost always the same.

If.

As in, if he can stay healthy.

“I’m in Year 4 of my contract and really haven’t done anything since I’ve been here."

And they’re not wondering if the defensive end can stay healthy for an entire season. They’re just hoping he can get to Week 1 healthy.

“If he can stay healthy and go through the OTAs and stay healthy and go through training camp, we’ll know a lot better,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said this past week during the organized team activities.

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Packers sign record-setting QB Graham Harrell

May 19, 2010 by  
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May 19, 2010 ~ By Brian E Murphy

~The Green Bay Packers have added another QB to the roster today by signing street free agent Graham Harrell. Like Kurt Warner and Tony Romo, Harrell hopes his NFL career takes off following some time in Wisconsin. Romo, as we all know, lived in Wisconsin. Warner, as a few remember, had his first NFL tryout in Green Bay back in the 1990’s, before his path took him to the Arena League and then NFL Europe.

After a record-setting career at Texas Tech, Harrell went undrafted in 2009. Harrell is 6-2, 223, which is perfect for an NFL QB. Both Aaron Rodgers, and the previous Packer starting QB are also 6-2.

Harrell engineered the Red Raiders to heights never seen before, including the #1-ranking in the nation for awhile in 2008. But he was no one-year wonder. He started for three full seasons.

His first full season in Lubbock, he threw for 4,555 yards, with 38 TDs and 11 Ints. His second saw him raise the game to 5,705 yards with 48 TDs and 14 Ints. His final year, 2008, he threw for 5111 yards, with 44 TDs and just 9 Ints. His passer rating in that 2008 season was 160 and his stats were superior to Sam Bradford, playing in the same conference against the same competition. Bradford just went number-one overall in the 2010 Draft last month to the Rams.

Without Graham Harrell, most people wouldn't have learned who Michael Crabtree was.

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Green Bay has Grown on Charles Woodson

May 19, 2010 by  
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May 19, 2010 ~ By Mike Vandermause

~It’s the most unlikely of unions between Packers All-Pro cornerback Charles Woodson and small-town Green Bay.

Woodson didn’t want anything to do with the Packers when he became an unrestricted free agent following the 2005 season. But when no other team wanted Woodson, he reluctantly signed with the Packers.

But there was Woodson on Tuesday night at the Swan Club, mingling with fans, putting his dinner on hold to sign autographs, accepting the well-deserved Professional Achievement Award at the Lee Remmel Sports Awards banquet and feeling right at home.

“It’s similar to how I grew up, where I grew up, a small town, a town even smaller than Green Bay,” Woodson said before the banquet.

“Just a great community, great people. They care about one another, and I’m trying to feed off of that as a player. I’ve been able to feed off of that and have some good years here.”

Woodson was being modest. He has enjoyed some great years here, and he has two Pro Bowl appearances and an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award to prove it.

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Jermichael Finley Wants to be Super Bowl MVP

May 17, 2010 by  
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May 16, 2010 ~ Greg A Bedard

~ In 2008 when the Green Bay Packers drafted a barely 21-year-old, redshirt sophomore with 17 college starts, they knew he would have to grow up a lot.

On the field, Jermichael Finley did it faster last year than most imagined.

"I want to be a leader coming into 2010 and a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion - I want all of that. I want to be the guy they know can make that happen."

In just one off-season, Finley went from a cocky rookie who thought he could skate by on athleticism alone without glancing at the playbook, to nearly eclipsing the single-season franchise record for catches by a tight end.

He stands on the precipice of becoming the best tight end in the National Football League. His teammates know it. His coaches know it. He knows it.

To deliver on that promise entering his third season, Finley thinks he needs to make the same kind of improvement off the field.

“I want it all,” Finley said as the Packers prepared to begin voluntary off-season workouts Monday. “I want to be the best tight end in the league, and I want to be a better father, husband and teammate.

“I want people to know they can look at Jermichael Finley and say, ‘That’s a Packer.’ That’s what I’m shooting for.”

Full story by Bedard here:

Peter King Gives the Packers the Kiss of Death

May 17, 2010 by  
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May 17, 2020 ~ By Brian E Murphy~

Last year, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King predicted the Chicago Bears to make the playoffs and make a run to the Super Bowl.

We all know how that turned out.

However, King is as qualified as any of us are to make a prediction, so it’s interesting to see someone of his national stature decide to put the Packers at the top of his list.

Full story from Peter right here.

ESPN’s John Clayton gives Clay Matthews his New Vote

May 14, 2010 by  
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May 15, 2010 ~ By John Clayton, ESPN

~After debating the topic for two days, I decided to rescind my Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year vote for Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and give it to Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Clay Matthews picked up votes from Bob Costas and John Clayton, Peter King as well. Sadly, many oClay Matthews picked up votes from Bob Costas and John Clayton, Peter King as well. But many other voters decided to send a message to the youth of America that taking steroids is acceptable.

ther voters decided to send a message to the youth of America that taking steroids is acceptable.

The reality is Cushing’s 16-game season in 2009 should have been 12
games because he failed a random drug test. (HCG, a masking agent, was found in his system.) Yet, despite being suspended for four games, Cushing won a revote on Wednesday and will keep the DROY award.

For days, I’ve been hoping Cushing would fess up to his charges. Since Friday, when the NFL announced his four-game suspension for the upcoming season, Cushing has failed in every opportunity. On Saturday, he came out with a weak statement saying he presented a good case in his defense but lost his appeal. Then came a slew of even weaker excuses. He claimed his failed test involved a nonsteroid and he didn’t fail a test throughout the remainder of the season.

What we didn’t see, hear or read was Cushing’s standing up against his charges and being accountable. As one of the 50 AP voters, I would be cheating three other viable candidates — Matthews, Brian Orakpo and Jairus Byrd — if I didn’t take into account the fact that Cushing should have missed four games last season. The only reason he played the full season was because the appeals process lingered until February instead of being finalized during the season.

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Is The Ted Thompson Train Going Off Track?

May 14, 2010 by  
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May 14, 2010 ~ By Rob Reischel, Special to Packer Plus

~ It was February 1996.

The Green Bay Packers had just finished an 11-5 regular season that included an NFC Central Division crown and a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Those Packers ranked seventh in the NFL in offense and 14th in defense.

General manager Ron Wolf and head coach Mike Holmgren both were a little more than four years into their jobs of turning around a moribund franchise. Quarterback Brett Favre was in his football prime, having just turned 26 years old. 
Now, fast forward to today.

Again, the Packers are coming off an 11-5 regular season, although this one didn’t include a division title and featured a first-round playoff loss. The 2009 Packers, though, ranked sixth in total offense and No. 2 in total defense.

Ted Thompson was tutored by Ron Wolf, but he seems to have missed this particular chapter.

General manager Ted Thompson just completed his fifth year on the job, while McCarthy – like Holmgren – wrapped up Year 4. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers – like Favre – is 26.

In so many ways, there are enormous parallels between where the Packers are today and where the organization was 14 years ago. But there’s also one enormous difference.

In 1996, Wolf sensed just how close his team was to an NFL title.

He used free agency to sign defensive tackle Santana Dotson, kick returner Desmond Howard, wideout Don Beebe, left tackle Bruce Wilkerson, linebacker Ron Cox and traded for safety Eugene Robinson.

Where would the 1996-97 Packers have finished without the addition of return ace Desmond Howard? How is the Packers current special teams return unit?

That group all played huge roles the following season as the Packers won their first Super Bowl in 29 years.

Thompson has had four months to improve his roster since the Packers’ 51-45 overtime loss to Arizona in the NFC wild-card round. His scorecard currently reads: zero free agent signings, zero trades.

With such little activity these past four months, the question begs: Can Thompson get this team over the hump, as his mentor Wolf did 14 years ago?

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GM Ron Wolf realized his 1995-96 team was good, and close to a Super Bowl, but it needed a few positions upgraded. As a result, he utilized a little-known aspect called unrestricted free agency and he brought in some key veterans like Desmond Howard, Santana Dotson, Eugene Robinson, and Don Beebe.