Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

It was an exciting 3rd preseason game. Seattle marched their starters into the 3rd Quarter. The Packers, on the other hand, had a mixture of 2nd & 3rd string players who were competing with them.  Defensively, the Packers appear to have great depth. On offense, there appears to be room for improvement. Here are some kind vibes from the game:

* Aaron Rodgers hasn't had a drive result in a TD, but he's in rhythm. He's in stride with J-Mike. 
* While J-Mike had problems hauling in two passes, he does appear to be fully focused and more confident.
* Another solid performance from David Bakhtiari & Don Barclay. I didn't agree with the holding call on Bakhtiari.
* C.M.3! The Claymaker!
* The Packers need to find a spot for Micah Hyde. He's been one of the best players on the team this preseason. In Week 1, he'd be my spy on Kaepernick.
* Terrell Manning with his best performance as a Packer.
* Robert Francois can play. He has limitations, but he's a solid #3 ILB.
* Brad Jones was playing with vicious intent. Hope he's healthy.
* Need Hayward to stay healthy. When he plays, he finds the ball. And, in some instances, the ball finds him.
* CJ Wilson plugging run holes!
* Wag the finger, BJ Raji!
*  Johnny Jolly making plays in the run game.
* Josh Boyd with a heart beat.
* Ryan Pickett holding force and pushing back.
* Nate Palmer showing aggression and a nose for the QB.
* Chris Banjo. Dude might not make the team, but someone should give him a shot. He tackles everything. He's smart. Understands the game. I like him better than MD Jennings. Yes, I wrote that. He brings a physical presence to the field.
*  Vince Young beat out Graham Harrell with his feet. Should Young be required to cover more than a 4-game stretch, the Packers would be in trouble, but if Young had to bail the Packers out of a game, I believe he'd offer a legitimate chance to pull off a victory.
* BJ Coleman played well. Not ideal, but he showed some positive aspects. Those around him didn't offer much support.
* Bostick is showing signs of being worthy of a roster spot.
* It was nice to see Jerron McMillan come up with the pick.
* Nick Perry getting his hands on passes is an exciting thing. Is the Jolly swatting passes piece an infectious thing?

The not-so-kind vibes:

* DuJuan Harris, we will miss you. A Speedy recovery to you.
* EDS has been what I feared he would be. Far from assignment sure. He gets almost no push. Lacks strength. Packers need better or teams will flood the middle of the line with both stunts and brute strength.
* Had a gut feeling that Lane Taylor might make the squad, but Harris' injury might have been the dagger. Also, due to injury and player availability, the Packers might be forced to keep 6 WR's.
* Need more out of our UCLA duo. Jones got zero push. Franklin hasn't looked the part.
* Need to keep Mike Neal as an inside rusher.
* ¿Donde esta, Dez Moses?
* Please be healthy, Morgan Burnett!
* Really wanted Charles Johnson to come down with that diving grab. 
* Van Roten was absolutely punished off the ball.
* For the first time, Sam Barrington didn't win me over.

Entering the final preseason game, I feel as though the Packers roster has more question marks than recent years. A lot of positional battles don't have a clear cut winner. Injury questions are also going to impact he number of WR's, RB's, and Safeties. It appears as though Jordy & Cobb are healthy. But, are the Packers absolutely certain that both will be ready Week 1? Is Morgan Burnett going to be fully recovered and, if not, do the Packers have to keep an additional safety since J-Bush has also struggled to stay healthy? At RB, the Harris injury has given a lifeline to both Green & Starks. Both have injury histories. Both have also outperformed Franklin this preseason. Do the Packers keep both players? 

The Chiefs game is a big one for the likes of Charles Johnson, Jetemy Ross, Tyrone Walker, Brandon Bostick, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor, Chris Banjo, Josh Boyd, Dez Moses, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Sam Barrington, Vince Young & BJ Coleman.

The Packers win the game. There depth on the defensive side of the ball disrupt the Chiefs OL. I expect the Packers to force turnovers. On the contrary, it'll be interesting to see if Young & Coleman will be able to protect the football.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but Johnson shows his worth. Ross gets loose in the return game. Palmer & Mulumba apply pressure. Banjo continues to wrap up. Alex Green finds the open field. Mason Crosby is on point.

For the Chiefs, watch our old friend, Frank Zombo. Zombo, an XLV Champion, has looked good thus far in the preseason. Much like he did in 2010.

Packers 23. Chiefs 13.

With the onslaught of the College Football Season this weekend, here's an initial mock draft for the 2014 Season. I have given an additional 5th & 6th round pick for the losses of Jennings & Walden. I've used the CBS Draft site as my list for round projections.

Rd 1 - Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. The Packers need another receiving option at TE. Ebron is athletic with good body control. Adjusts well when the ball is in the air.
Rd 2 - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo. There's no one that I'm more excited to watch this weekend than Khalil Mack. Playing Ohio State. He dominates the lower level competition. Mack has dynamite closing speed. A sure tackler. Plays with great length. He can drop into space. Great speed/power combo. An ideal 3-4 OLB.
Rd 3 - Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia. If neither Young nor Coleman is the answer, the Packers will need to invest in a potential solution. Murray has the arm strength, the pocket presence and the size to play at the next level.
Rd 4 - Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh. Street gets deep. He's dangerous after the catch. He plays the ball in the air and has a knack for the big play.
Rd 5 - Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. I'm baffled that he's listed as a 5th rounder. I view him as a 2nd round pick. He's a leader. A gamer. Great on the blitz. He'd immediately start in Green Bay.
Rd 5 - Kenny Vadler, S, Vanderbilt. Over the last two years, I wanted to watch Jordan Rodgers. Because of it, I initially learned about Hayward & Sean Richardson. Last year, I admired the play of Vadler. He's a ballhawk. Gets sideline-to-sideline. A tremendous athlete.
Rd 6 - Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama St. Had Crowell stayed out of the trouble, he'd be running at Georgia and he'd be a Heisman contender.
Rd 6 - Beau Allen, DL, WI. Allen would be a great plug in the middle of the Packers defense. A solid pass rusher for his size, he carries his weight well. Moves fluidly for a big guy. Solid against the run as well. 
Rd 7 - Torin Harris, CB, USC. If Harris stays healthy, he has all of the talents to play in the NFL. He can run. He uses his hands well. He's not afraid of contact. He has the height to play and the frame to add weight.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

A win is a fun feeling. Regardless of circumstance, it's nice to win. And when the win is accompanied with GO PACK GO chant in a visitors stadium, it feels even better. Here are some kind vibes from the win over the Rams:

* Aaron Rodgers looks to be in full stride. That alone will make the Packers tough to beat.
* There's been a heavy emphasis on getting the OL to the 2nd tier of the defense. TJ Lang has clearly bought into this philosophy. Lang was consistently finding his way downfield.
* In the run game, Don Barclay seals the edge on the right side of the line.
* J-Mike reaping rewards from the play fake and then taking full advantage of his opportunities.
* It eased many fears when I watched Micah Hyde coming on the blitz. He's a natural at rushing out of the slot. It should come as no surprise that Hyde hasn't excelled on the outside. That isn't his game. Hyde is a slot CB who - much to my surprise - has displayed a lot of tools normally associated with a Safety.
* Jarrett Boykin in lock-step with Rodgers carries lots o' positive buzzes with it.
* Speaking of positive buzzes, Johnny Jolly. Man, in 2009, Jolly had 10 PD. since then, the Packers DL has struggled to get their hands on footballs. Instantly, Jolly has made an impact. Though he'll never be an elite pass rusher, this trait is nearly as valuable of an art as rushing the QB. Jolly should be a lock to make the roster.
* Andy Mulumba displayed some of the skills that I projected as possibilities as soon as the Packers signed him. He pays the run well. He also showed pass rushing skills.
* It was good to see Nate Palmer putting some energy into the pass rush.
* Nick Perry's closing speed impresses me. Wish Kevin Green could teach him a spin move though.
* Liked that Mike Neal was given an opportunity to rush the passer from the inside. While, I like his power on the outside, he can't drop into coverage.
* Led by BJ Raji, I liked the presence of the run defense.
* Chris Banjo plays with energy.
* Robert Francois should see playing time in the regular season. He's always seeking ball carriers with vicious pursuit.
* I like Sam Barrington. I'm pulling for him.
* Thought Terrell Manning had a decent game. Nearly blocked two punts. Showed hunger rushing the QB.
* Once again, David Bakhtiari didn't disappoint.
* CJ Wilson did well plugging holes.
* Lane Taylor brings nastiness. He's a bruiser. A fighter. I like his game. Pulling for him. He might have a future in the League.
* Micah Hyde showed great comfort on his punt return.
* Well done, BJ Coleman.
* Vince Young is still not comfortable, which shouldn't surprise. But, time is running out. I prefer him to Graham Harrell. If time allows.
* If Eddie Lacy keeps running that way, defenses will have to respect the run. And Aaron Rodgers will like what he sees.
* Yes, he had a poor performance against Arizona. But, I like Ras-House.
* In limited action, Morgan Burnett has been impressive covering crossing routes.
* Brandon Bostick is quietly making his move.

Things to improve upon:

* On both of Lacy's first two runs, EDS was beaten and there was a hand on Lacy prior to him getting to the line of scrimmage.
* Dezman Moses concerns me. Might not be worthy of a roster spot.
* Jamari Lattimore hasn't taken the leap that I thought he'd take. Still, he has great special teams talents and should make the team.
* MD Jennings and Jerron McMillan leave something to be desired.
* A week after offering hope on inside blitzes, AJ Hawk & Brad Jones left me yawning. I like how Francois pursues with unfiltered passion and intent.
* While Jeremy Ross hasn't flourished as a WR, he is the Packers best overall returner. He's decisive. He runs with conviction. He's a much better option than Franklin. I fear that if Ross isn't the returner, the special teams units might return to pre-Randall Cobb status.
* I've been on the Tyrone Walker bandwagon. I was disappointed that he couldn't hang onto two balls that hit him in the hands. Might be deal breakers.
* James Starks with a poor performance hurt his chances in a crowded backfield.
* I'm beginning to wonder if DJ Williams is playing himself off the team. Unbelievably disappointing.
* While the Packers didn't give up many points, they did give up big plays throughout. Need this to stop.

Here's my first attempt at unlocking the top 53. Until last week, I was feeling like the Packers might try to tuck Charles Johnson & Kevin Dorsey on the IR for the season. But, with their recent arrival at practice, those two are the most uncertain players on the roster. The next two weeks will be telling. Here goes:

QB: (2) Rodgers & Coleman. I wanted the back-up to be Young. He's yet to prove it. Neither has Coleman, but he's the better long term prospect. Harrell is not the answer.

RB: (4) Lacy, Harris, Franklin & Kuhn. Lacy & Harris could be a tandem we haven't seen in Green Bay since '03. Franklin hasn't lived up to expectations - thus far - but, he's a lock for the roster. Kuhn is a great utility player. Tough to cut Starks. I'll forever cherish him for his performances in the XLV run. Green never materialized. In part, due to injury. Pease is a logical practice squad candidate.

WR: (5) A lot of depth. No one has elevated to a spot worthy of demanding a roster spot. Jones, Cobb, Nelson, Boykin, Ross. Ross is the best returner on the roster. Have to keep him. Walker's two drops might have been the difference. Walker, White, Gillett & Hines are all practice squad candidates.

TE: (4) J-Mike, Mulligan, Williams, Taylor. For now, Taylor & Williams make it as Quarless hasn't been seen and Bostick could likely be stashed on the Practice Squad for another year. If Williams has another poor showing, Bostick could be reignited.

OL: (8) Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Barclay, Newhouse, Taylor, Van Roten. All but Taylor are assumed to be locks. Taylor has brought a level of intensity worthy of a roster spot. When I watch the 4th Quarter of these preseason games, I watch and wonder if anyone belongs. Taylor makes me believe that he has a home. He shows promise and the ability to be a future starter in the NFL.

Specialists: (3) Goode, Masthay, Crosby.

DL: (8) Pickett, Raji, Wilson, Neal, Jones, Jolly, Boyd, Daniels. A lot of DL for a 3-4, but there's great versatility and a lot of contracts to get figured out after the year. Boyd isn't necessarily deserving, but his status as a 5th Round pick grants him a year of development. Pena and Miller are practice squad candidates.

OLB: (4) Matthews, Perry, Mulumba, Palmer. The hardest cut is Moses who played admirably in '12. But, Mulumba has outperformed him and Palmer is a coveted draft pick.

ILB: (6) Hawk, Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning, Barrington. Barrington has been too good to release or hide on the practice squad. Dude can play. ILB will play a prominent role on special teams.

DB: (9) T-Mon, Shields, Hayward, Ras-House, Hyde, Bush, Jennings, McMillan, Burnett. Hyde gives versatility. I never envisioned him as a safety. I see it now. Banjo is an ideal practice squad candidate.

This week - the Packers take on the Seahawks, which has developed into a really nice rivalry over the last 15 years since Holmgren departed. The Seahawks are loaded with depth and it's been put on display during the preseason as their play has been convincing. Both teams will approach the contest with high octane intensity. It's the tune-up game for the Regular Season.

The Packers match up well with Seattle. With DuJuan Harris returning, look for the Packers to give the Seahawks a heavy dose of Lacy & Harris. With Rodgers out of shotgun, I anticipate Rodgers making a bundle of adjustments at the snap. After the snap, he will have options to either hand it off or to throw it. It allows for enhanced flexibility for Rodgers. And, it could lead to big plays by the TE's based on Rodgers' reactions to the movements of the ILB. Look for the Packers to attack the middle of the field.

Matching up with Richard Sherman & Brandon Browner, the depth of the Packers WR units will be tested as they'll be playing without Jordy & possibly Cobb. Shine on, Boykin & Ross. It's definitely a chance for someone to elevate and earn a roster spot as the #5 WR. It is also an opportunity for DJ Williams to reestablish himself as a viable pass catching option. I feel it'd be wise for McCarthy to put Williams in position to make a play early in the game, just as he did J-Mike last week. Williams needs a confidence builder. In the past, McCarthy has attempted to put players in position to succeed after underwhelming performances. Being the players coach that I view him as, I wouldn't be surprised to see Williams as the target of an early Rodgers pass.

Largely, expect the Packers to pound the ball at the interior of the Seahawks defense. John Schneider did a nice job of digging for valuable depth in the '13 Draft by selecting Jordan Hill in Round 3 and Jesse Williams in Round 5. They'll be put to the test this weekend. Other than Brandon Mebane, I'm not fond of the interior of the Seattle DL. They can be punished. It'll be up to Hill & Williams to perform as rookies. I'm aware that Hill has an injured bicep, but I don't know the severity of it.

If Russell Wilson continues to develop, there's reason to believe that Seattle is the favorite to win the NFC. Even with Breno Giacomini as the starting RT. And JR Sweezy at RG. Regardless, look for the Packers to attack the left side of the Seahawks OL. They should pair Hyde's blitzes with Clay's relentless pursuit. I fancy good results will come. BJ Raji will be tested in us match-up with Max Unger.

At the skill positions, the Seahawks will provide a real test for the Packers defense. Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Zach Miller all bring a healthy presence to the offense. Jermaine Kearse and Luke Wilson further the depth. They'll bring energy for 4 Quarters. The Packers couldn't ask for a better 3rd preseason game opponent.

The 1st half is a tug of war. Matching FG's until Lacy pounds one in from 7 yards following a Rodgers bullet to J-Mike across the middle. The Packers hold a 13-9 lead at the half.

Trailing 19-13 late, BJ Coleman takes over. He hits Myles White over the middle. He finds Bostick on a roll-out. Alex Green pounds forward. It's Coleman to Bostick for the winner!

Packers 20. Seahawks 19.

Lambeau, be loud. Treat this one like it is real.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Take -> Preseason Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

17-0. Shutout. At home. But, I’m not worried. In fact, I felt like I saw some positive things happen during the disgusting start to the preseason. Here’s some kind vibes to keep you fresh:

• Aaron Rodgers was nearly spot. The deep ball to James Jones was midseason form. The timing was off on the 2nd down pass, which surprised me, but overall, it was a really nice showing by the 1st team offense.
• James Jones separating was a thing of beauty.
• David Bakhtiari showed great promise in making his first appearance as the starting RT.
• Nick Perry displayed great closing speed as he quickly closed on Larry Fitzgerald.
• Micah Hyde! I reiterate that before the Draft I listed three CB’s that I felt were fit for the Packers defense. Hyde was one of them. He played with fight. Sure, he didn’t get his head turned around on the TD, but that’ll get coached up.
• Andy Mulumba looked solid against the run. He’s raw. But, I liked his pizzazz. Showed enough to keep me excited.
• I really liked watching Robert Francois in pursuit. Didn’t close the deal on the inside blitz, but he did get home for a sack on one occasion.
• Sam Barrington can punish people. Great instincts. He should be on the team.
• Liked seeing Mike Daniels closing in one the QB.
• Tyrone Walker! At this stage, I’ll be shocked if this guy doesn’t make the team. He showed wiggle after the catch. As of today, I see him as our 4th best WR. Wish Charles Johnson would get healthy to push Boykin for a spot.
• Mulligan showed good muscle as a blocker.
• Greg Van Roten has proved that he can be a versatile OL at either G or C.
• Ted Thompson would find Chris Banjo. Of course. Thompson loves his TX kids. Banjo can hit. He was a really pleasant surprise. Tackled with a vengeance. Excited to see more of him.
• Vince Young offered hope. Played with a lil’ spark. Nothing overwhelming, but enough to believe that he can make a push towards being the #2 QB. I think he’ll win the job. But, I don’t believe in Graham Harrell.
• Johnny Jolly showed that he still has football left in the tank.


• The preseason is about the back-up QB. Harrell had two turnovers that directly led to 14 points. Granted, Newhouse was beaten badly on the sack/fumble, but Harrell should feel the pressure.
• I couldn’t believe my eyes. All off-season the Packers have stressed the importance of becoming a power football team. Of becoming an offense that can run the football. Then, on 2nd and goal from inside the 2, the Packers line up in shotgun formation. On 3rd and goal, once again, they go to shotgun. This time in an empty set. Come on, McCarthy. Practice what you preach!
• Jeremy Ross gets bumped off his route too easily. He’s – by far – the best KR/PR player on the team outside of Cobb. And, thus, he’ll likely make the roster, but he leaves much to be desired as a WR.
• Ras House did not have his best showing. I believe it’s merely a bump in the road.
• At OLB, the Packers don’t seem to have depth with respect to anyone being able to get to the QB. Nate Palmer doesn’t look cut out for this league.
• Terrell Manning has been a disappointment. It’s possible that Manning could be traded to a team in a 4-3. He’s not big enough to play the 3-4. He gets exposed and often finds himself lost in the shuffle of the play.
• Really wish DJ Williams would elevate to the player I envisioned he’d become.
• I’m extremely concerned about the starting Safety spot across from Morgan Burnett.
• BJ Coleman. Kind of a buzzkill. Really believed in him. Still want to. Appears as though the Packers are trying to tuck him on the practice squad again.

This week – it’s the Rams. In St. Louis. It’ll be a solid test for the Packers. On the turf, the Rams are fast. They have playmakers. Tavon Austin & Stedman Bailey are Dub-V stallions. Both play with riveting excitement. Chris Givens is frustrating to cover. Lance Kendricks is a tough match-up. Daryl Richardson is primed for a big year. And – defensively, the Rams are littered with playmakers.

I hope that Eddie Lacy & DuJuan Harris are used in limited fashion. I’d like to see the Packers put James Starks and Alex Green on display. Possible trade bait for either a promising OLB or an up-and-coming Safety.

Give Rodgers the 1st Quarter. He’ll move the football. Put points on the board. He’ll be in connection with Jones & J-Mike. Since Cobb will also be resting, I’d like to see Walker playing against a 1st team defense. Let’s see what the kid can do.

I want to see Micah Hyde covering Tavon Austin in the slot. Play on, Micah.

Get busy in the return game, Jeremy Ross. I’m pulling for you.

Keep gas in the tank, Johnny Jolly.

We see Mike Daniels get to the QB.

Mulumba continues to play the run well and he shows a small glimpse of being able to pressure the QB. Mulumba makes the 53-man roster.

The ILB brings further goodness from a depth perspective. Lattimore plays the ball well in coverage. Francois brings heart. Barrington continues to pursue like a beast.

Look for Banjo to continue to hit everything that is in sight. And, if we see him make a play on the ball, he could make a push for the Final 53. The Packers have stressed physicality. Banjo brings aggression and a possessed energy.

Angelo Pease & BJ Coleman see light, if any playing time, as they’re being hidden as practice squad targets.

Look for Vince Young to make his move this week. Feeling minutely comfortable with the offense, Young uses his feet and his athleticism to move the chains. He also finds Bostick over the middle as a safety valve. He finds Franklin on a dump-off to move the chains. Extending the play, he rolls right. He connects with Boykin to keep the chains moving. Alex Green punches it in from 3 yards out.

Packers 23. Rams 20.

Let’s get a WIN!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Take -> Preseason Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

Football at Lambeau. Yes, John Bell, Life Is Grand! 

In life, my nature is to be an optimistic realist. I live this way. I breathe this way. And, when it comes to the Green Bay Packers, I both write and think this way. With that said, I'm kicking the blog off with the sublime vibes that we saw on Family Night.

* Aaron Rodgers was in sink with Jones & Cobb. And both Jones & Cobb were terrific after the catch.

* Eddie Lacy! Moving piles. Great feet. Lowering his shoulder. A solid burst. Tremendous vision. Hit the hole with a vengeance. Reason for optimism.

* David Bakhtiari. The Buff! An anchor. Moved his feet well. Good hand positioning. Almost seemed too good to be true.

* Datone Jones. For the first time since Cullen Jenkins left, it feels like BJ Raji has a full fledged running mate.

* Speaking of Raji, he showed great burst. Wiggling his way thru the line.

* The first team OL showed positivity.

* Alex Green, James Starks, Angelo Pease and Johnathan Franklin all showed glimpses of goodness.

* The depth at WR was apparent. The same could be said at CB. Enjoyed those battles! And, what really impressed was that the Packers were playing without Hayward, T-Mon, Dorsey & Johnson.

* The prospects of this draft class is thrilling. Really liked Barrington. Attacks with purpose. When he wasn't tackling Lacy, he was taking bodies to the turf.

* Liked McMillan's aggressiveness.

* The inside blitzes by Brad Jones and AJ Hawk were encouraging.

* I liked what I saw out of Ras House and Sammy Swagga!

* Brandon Bostick looks good in uniform.

Here are the top 10 things that concern me:
1.) Bulaga's injury. Thought the OL was poised for a big year. With solid depth. I believe Barclay should be the starting RT. Let Bakhtiari be the LT, if he earns it. Newhouse is the back-up.
2.) Mason Crosby was brutal.
3.) BJ Coleman.  I expected some inconsistencies, but those interceptions were awful. I still like him as a prospect, but the Packers need improvement out of him.
4.) Please get healthy by the opener, Jordy Nelson.
5.) Nate Palmer, that was pathetic. Terrible angle. Seemed like poor effort.
6.) Liked the pursuit of Robert Francois and the recognition, but finish the play, mate.
7.) Terrell Manning, I need to see more.
8.) None of the UDFA OLB showed anything to offer hope. 
9.) The injuries on the OL are becoming severe. The depth is depleted. Using Barclay as the utility back-up OL has hindered his ability to compete at RT. JC Tretter's injury is costly right now. The interior of the OL needs to improve from a depth perspective.
10.) Didn't like seeing J-Mike dropping the ball. Mulligan wasn't overly impressive as a pass receiver. I know he is a blocking specialist, but he looked uncomfortable running routes. With Ryan Taylor's injury, the door is open for Brandon Bostick.

The Vince Young signing intrigues. Yes, his career has been a disappointment, but remember that in November of 2011, he was beating the NYG. He had 36 pass attempts. He threw 2 TD's, 3 interceptions, but he managed the game to victory and picked up crucial 3rd downs. I don't have confidence in Graham Harrell. I want to like BJ Coleman, but he hasn't proved he's ready. If Young can pick up the offense, which won't be easy, he has a legitimate chance to make the roster.

This week - it is the Arizona Cardinals who arrive with a new coach, a new QB and a new RB. They will want to find their rhythm early.  They'll be a fun first preseason opponent. 

The Packers are loaded at the playmaking positions, which should offer excitement throughout. With Eddie Lacy & Randall Cobb likely to be held out, the likes of Franklin, Starks, Green (if healthy), Pease, Myles White, Omarius Hines, Tyrone Walker,Jarrett Boykin, Alex Gillett and Jeremy Ross will be on display. If Green is healthy, it wouldn't surprise me if he was showcased. I'll be curious if Pease gets significant snaps or if he's hidden to be stored on the practice squad.

At OLB, do we have anyone who can pressure the QB outside of Perry & CM3? I want to watch Mulumba, Reed, Moses, Palmer, and Savage. Come on, man. Someone must elevate!

I'm really anxious to see Jamari Lattimore. I believe he could end up as the dime ILB.

Over the last couple of years, the Packers have had a stellar punt coverage unit. It's helped Masthay. Who will be opposite J-Bush in '13? Micah Hyde? Jeremy Ross? It'll be interesting to see. In light of last year, don't put Ras House out there.

Look for Rodgers to have a productive first drive. Finding J-Mike for theTD. And a Lambeau Leap. With Starks getting the first carries.

Then we see the back-ups on offense. Harrell shows positive signs, good composure, healthy camaraderie. He moves the offense. Connecting with Boykin & Hines. Big targets that'll go up and get it in traffic.

Coleman comes in and displays his cannon. McCarthy gets him comfortable with a screen to Franklin. The young QB hooks up with Bostick. Franklin finds some running room. 
It's Coleman to Walker for the TD!

On defense, Micah Hyde shows good things in the slot. Brandon Smith continues to shine on the outside. Smith grabs a pick. At safety, depth remains a concern. 

Sam Barrington punishes.

Gilbert Pena stuffs the run. Josh Boyd shows activity. Mike Daniels dominates. 

Jeremy Ross shows he can be lethal in the return game.

Generally, the preseason is won by the better back-up QB. Though I do not love the Packers QB situation, they show promise on this day.  And the Packers depth at WR, RB, DL and CB are too much for Arizona.

Packers 27. Cardinals 20.

Lambeau, be loud. Be in charge.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Take -> Family Night

Greetings, G-Force.

Our first glimpse of the 2013 Green Bay Packers comes via Family Night. A fun tradition, which brings communion to the players and fans. It's a fun festival, of sorts. Throughout the years, on Family Night, we've seen a number of players who set the tone for their careers. Though it is only a glorified practice, it does offer a live look at the players in pads under the lights. Further, it marks the dawn of a new season. We can put the Jeremy Ross dropped punt behind us. We seek a brighter tomorrow. And the present seems to shine bright.

Here's a quick positional breakdown for what I will be looking for:

At QB, I am all-in with BJ Coleman. I want to see his cannon. I want accuracy on a quick slant. I want to see him roll out and unleash the deep ball. At this stage, I'm not overly concerned with his ability to read defenses as that will come, but I want to see him in command. Is he the leader in the huddle? Be the man, BJ. The back-up role is his to lose.

At RB, I am anxious for the toys to be put on display! Showcase Lacy & Franklin. Let Lacy show the faithful what he's made of. Let's see Franklin hopping on the Lambeau turf! While Starks is reportedly looking like the beast who helped carry us to an XLV title, I remain curious as to whether he can make it through the preseason on a healthy note. Alex Green's lifeline might depend on DuJuan Harris' availability. Suddenly, the running back situation in Green Bay is a topic for what is potentially a promising aspect of the roster. I wonder if Pease is hidden in an effort for the Packers to tuck him on the practice squad, much like they did with Coleman last year.

At WR, the Packers are going thru a nail biting evaluation. After the top 3, nothing is set. The injuries to Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey are extremely frustrating. They're missing crucial time for their development. And, thus, the door is wide open for the likes of Jeremy Ross, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White & Omarius Hines. Ross can steal a roster spot via special teams. Boykin needs to repeat his preseason from last year. White has all of the tools, but he's got to put them to use when the lights are on. A week ago, Hines was unsigned. Today, he's going to get a golden opportunity to make a push for a roster spot. With all of this said, I'm shining my spotlight on one man: Tyrone Walker. I absolutely love that he's sporting #83. For those that know me, you know that I idolized Mark Clayton growing up. There's something special about an undersized WR wearing #83. Walker stands 5'10. He's 191 lbs. The door is wide-open for him to make a run at the roster. Though I've never seen him in person, I'm calling my shot: Tyrone Walker is my sleeper to make the 2013 Packers roster. Excited to see him on Family Night.

At TE, I'm really interested in seeing 3 guys: Andrew Quarless, Matthew Mulligan and Brandon Bostick. If Quarless is healthy, he's going to make the team. Has he recovered? I was disappointed to hear that he was held out of practice. I'm curious as to whether he plays on Family Night.

Two years ago, the Packers selected DJ Williams. I thought Ted Thompson had drafted a 5th round steal. Williams has been an absolute disappointment. Can Bostick get down the seam and make the play in traffic? So far, Williams has failed to make an impact. At some point, Bostick will get his chance. Carpe diem, Brandon. Finally, when the Packers lost Tom Crabtree, they lost their best blocking TE. This is Matthew Mulligan's specialty. Thus far, Ryan Taylor has been just another guy. With the Packers newly found commitment to the run game, Mulligan is staring a roster spot in the face. I'm excited to see him playing a blocking H-Back role. Can he open up holes and sustain his block?

On the OL, I am curious about two things:

1.) Is Barclay able to play Center?
2.) How does David Bakhtiari hold up?

I'm pulling for the starting OL to be Bulaga, Sitton, Barclay, Lang, and Bakhtiari. It's our best opportunity for creating a bruising running game. Sitton has displayed continuity with Bulaga and Barclay in the past. Barclay has the strength, athleticism and wit to play the position, but can he learn the role in a short time frame? He's never played the position before. It seems like a tall task. I like Marshall Newhouse. He's full of class. He's a decent pass blocker, but he has never emerged as a run blocker. Bakhtiari has been a bright spot in camp. Go win the job, David!

On the DL, I cannot wait to see Datone Jones go beastly. Curious as to whether he lines up next to Perry or CM3. With Ryan Pickett nearing the end of his time in Green Bay (he's a FA after this year), the Packers must have a contingency plan. Gilbert Pena is in camp to compete for a roster spot - possibly on the practice squad. In the XLV run, Howard Green played a huge role. Pena carries a similar stature to Green. The Big Beefy lineup that included both Pickett & Green was an integral component to a defense that grew into a Champion. Can Pena earn a similar role in a crowded unit? 

Also, on the DL, the Packers have failed to generate any pressure over the last two years. The interior of the line has been stymied in crucial situations. BJ Raji needs help. And, while Jones is the answer, Raji is a FA after this year. The Packers need depth. Mike Daniels has flashed the ability to handle the role, but the Packers need more consistency out of him. His brute strength could be a difference maker. Also, Josh Boyd was drafted to be an interior presence. He has a bull rush that can move the line. Does it translate at the next level?

At OLB, I want to see Nick Perry drop into space. I want to see him be a bruiser on the outside. I want to see multiple moves outside of the bull rush. Has he learned the CM3 patented duck-under move? What has he added to his arsenal? 

For years, McCarthy has stressed availability. Suddenly, Nate Palmer and Dezman Moses are injured. Though Palmer has returned to the practice field, every snap is crucial for him. Every year, the Packers have an UDFA who elevates during the preseason and propels himself into a prominent role on the team. This year, it would appear that OLB is a prime position for that to happen. Prior to the first OTA, my money was on Andy Mulumba. He's going to get his chance. Immediately. So will Donte Savage and Jarvis Reed. All have ideal height-weight combinations. Can any of them hold the edge, pressure the QB and drop in coverage? I will be tuned in.

At ILB, I have been waiting 4 years for someone to supplant AJ Hawk. And, while it's not happening this year, I don't think it's far fetched to see someone steal snaps from him this year. I believe in Jamari Lattimore. He's a former OLB who could pressure the QB. I am excited to see him come on an inside blitz. It seems as though he should be a natural as an extra man on the blitz. I want to see his recognition. How does he drop in coverage? He showed glimpses of goodness in the preseason last year. He's battling illness. I hope he's on the field on Family Night. Last year, Terrell Manning often found himself sucked in and gobbled up by FB's and OL. I was thrilled with his selection last year. I'm hoping he plays with better awareness. Also, don't forget about Robert Francois who was a prominent special teams player and played admirably in his 2 games a ILB in '11. Finally, for the first time, I'll get a chance to see Sam Barrington. He's foreign to me.

At CB, I have to believe that T-Mon, Sammy Swagga, Show-Case, Ras House, Micah Hyde, and J-Bush are locks to make the team. But, the safety position, the Packers are looking awfully thin. After Burnett, Jennings and McMillan, we are left with a bunch of no-names. Sean Richardson is still injured. So we are left to find out:  Who are David Fulton, Chris Banjo, and Chaz Powell? I watch a lot of football. I know nothing about any of them. Yet it remains conceivable that one of them will be on the Week 1 roster. Kinda crazy. 

I'm stoked for my first look of the 2013 team. It's upon us, G-Force. Pump up the volume!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.