Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Competition Already Brewing at Lambeau

Compiled and Written By: Todd Stelzel, PackerToddsnEnds

1st Rd Pick DB Damarious Randall, AZ State, Image From:www.zimbio.com
Competition already seems to be brewing on the back burner now that all of the rookie picks have finished with OTA practices for the Green Bay Packers. As is always the case, it is too difficult to say which players will be "Pro Bowl" bound and which will not even make the roster. There are always 7th round gems in the rough (Donnie Driver comes to mind) and 1st round busts (Justin Who-rell?). After Ted Thompson made his selections, I became intrigued with these Packer match ups. Remember, this is premature and players have to prove themselves on and off the NFL field.

Damarious Randall and Quinton Rollins vs Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde. Need I say more? Rookies have a difficult time covering NFL wide receivers, much less trying to unseat veterans, who finally get a chance to start (now that Tramon Williams and Davon House have left the house). Neither Randall or Rollins will start, but both will have an impact when they are finally assigned special roles on the Packer defense and special teams.

Ty Montgomery vs Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis. Quite possibly the best competition in camp this year. It promises to be a good one between these three players. I look for all three receivers to make the 53 man roster this year. In addition, all are in contention to be the kick/punt returner, and possibly the 4th "go to" wide receiver for the Pack. In my eyes, Ty will surprise and the 3rd round selection will beat out both Janis and Abbrederis, respectively.

Jake Ryan vs Carl Bradford. Doesn't matter which 4th round pick wins the ILB position opposite Sam Barrington, so long as one of these two guys wins the position so that Green Bay can finally move Clay Matthews back to the outside edge rushing, which is what he was built to do. Bradford may surprise people. Don't forget....he may have been a "healthy inactive" last year, because guys like Hawk, Lattimore, and Jones were in his way (taking up roster spots). As it looks right now, nobody stands in his way for a roster spot or for that matter, a starting position. On the other hand, I believe hard hitting Jake Ryan, the 4th round pick out of Michigan, will have something to say about that by the end of camp.

Brett Hundley vs Scott Tolzien. Off the cuff, Tolzien will be the winner and back up Aaron Charles Rodgers, because he knows the playbook, the routine of the daily grind and how the receivers run their routes. While Hundley is cramming and on the hurry, Tolzien will be relaxed, poised and confident-looking.

With the exception of Justin Perillo, Kennard Backman seems to have little competition as the third tight end behind Richard Rogers and Brandon Quarless. However, he will have to earn his keep by playing special teams. The same could be said for Aaron Ripkowski, the big bruising fullback from Oklahoma. Ripkowski could end up ripping a job away from the beloved John Kuhn, but I doubt it.(Fans cheering "Rip! Rip!" instead of "Kuhn! Kuhn?" Hmm...) Nonetheless, the Packers keep both guys on the squad, because they are both definitely big time special team players.

With most of the roster already set, I wish the newest additions all the luck in the world. Competition is the key ingredient for the Packers winning formula; has been for quite some time. If you ask me...given Ted Thompson's 2015 draft picks, there are already some great battles and competitions a-brewing....and it's not even July and training camp time yet!

Monday, June 29, 2015

After Watching the 6-10-15 OTA I have More Questions than Answers

Photographed and Written By: Todd Stelzel, PackerToddsnEnds

#84 Jared Abbrederis, Image From: Todd Stelzel

My lovely wife and I attended the Green Bay Packer OTA practice on June 10, 2015.  It was a beautiful sunny, breezy 80 degree day in Green Bay. The practice was open to the public and there was no admission. What could be better than that?

Seeing the Packer players up close was an experience that put a smile on our faces that wouldn't go away for days afterward. The guys practiced with their fellow position players for an hour and fifteen minutes and then a 15 minute scrimmage game was played right in front of our eyes. It was awe-inspiring to say the least--and interesting to observe and evaluate the performance of not only the rookies but the seasoned players as well.

For example, as we watched various Packers fielding punts out of the jug gun, I couldn't help but ask myself..."Who will return punts for the Pack this year?" In need of a second opinion, I posed the very same question on Twitter to Ryan Wood, Packer Sports Writer for the Green Bay Press Gazette. Below is his response to my question.

Question From PackerToddsnEnds

Lovely wife of 28 yrs and I saw the 6-10-15 OTA and a number of Packers fielding punts. Besides Randall Cobb, which Packer looked the best yesterday in this role? My pick: Jared Abbrederis. He looked really solid, although he did muff one punt out of the jug gun. Even though it's early... who did you like back there?

Answer From Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press Gazette

Congrats, PTE. Lovely wife and I are celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary today. Happy times. As for punt return, Jared Abbrederis is getting a lot of reps there. He could be the guy, but I think Micah Hyde may be the most likely to be a full-time punt returner this season. That's something we won't know until August at the earliest.

Reply Back From PackerToddsnEnds

Well then.....Happy fourth wedding anniversary! Enjoy following you and Wes! Finally, I agree....Micah is the man to beat out in the punt return role, unless Jared shows well during the preseason, and we will not know those results until the end of August. Thanks for the kind words & reply!

Final Comment From Ryan Wood

It probably comes down to how much subpackage the Packers play, which is why I'm not sure Micah Hyde will be the guy. The Packers haven't always wanted a regular player at returner. If that role can be filled by someone playing fewer offensive and defensive snaps, it probably will. But Hyde would be the best option, and McCarthy has said he wants more starters on special teams. (Hyde effectively being a starter as a nickel back if the Packers go predominantly to subpackages.)

Final Word From PackerToddsnEnds

After reading this exchange of ideas, it sounds like anyone's guess at this point. So, you tell me...Who do you think will be returning punts for the Green Bay Packers in 2015?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Super Bowl 50 Fate Rests in Packer "D"

Compiled and Written By: Todd Stelzel, PackerToddsnEnds

No question---The Green Bay Packers' offense will score a ton of points in 2015. The biggest question as I see it, is "Can the Packer defense keep the other teams from scoring when the game is on the line?"

After resigning Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb, the 2015 Packers, barring serious injuries, will return 21 out of 22 starters from the 2014 squad that lost a literal "heartbreaker" in the last five minutes to the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Championship Game.

CB Tramon Williams is the one exception, after signing with the Cleveland Browns as an unrestricted free agent in March. Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers needs to expediantly fill this vacancy, if the Packers are to have a chance at winning Super Bowl 50.

The Packers' dangerous offense, barring major injuries, will be an even greater threat to opposing defenses in 2015 with, believe it or not, the emergence of #17 WR Davante Adams. Given these brief statements about the Packer offense and an at times suspect 2014 Packer defense, I truly believe that the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl 50 fate is in the hands of the green and gold "D" this year.

The Packer offense can get you to SB 50, but as we all know...it's defense that wins championships. With very little "turnover" in the starting depth chart, Packer veterans, who start on defense, will have to step it up and contribute significantly if Green Bay is to be considered a favorite to win it all.

Here is a list of my top 5 veteran Packer players who must improve significantly,
in order for the Pack to get to and win SB 50. As you can guess...they are all defensive players. So here we go...

#95 Datone Jones - Has 5 career sacks in 2 seasons. 1.5 sacks last year. Datone was drafted in the first round out of UCLA by Green Bay in 2013, and needs to significantly increase his production, if the Packers want to head to SB 50 and win it! Personally speaking, I expect more out of a 1st round pick!

#95 Datone Jones, Image From: www.packers.com
#53 Nick Perry - Another first round draft choice in 2012. He played at USC. Perry was selected by the Packers to give them another "edge rusher" to sack the quarterback. Perry has 9 career sacks in 3 seasons. Need I say more?

#53 Nick Perry, Image From: www.packers.com
#90 BJ Raji - Has not recorded a QB sack since 2011--this, after his finest year in 2010 with 6.5 sacks--(the year the Pack won the Superbowl--are you making the same connection as me?) Raji was drafted in the first round (9th overall) by Green Bay in 2009. He was selected ahead of Clay Matthews, who was also drafted in the first round in 2009 (26th overall pick). This year, Raji faces stiff competition from fellow teammate Letroy Guion for the right to start. Bottom line? BJ needs to start molding himself after Clay--if the Pack are to return to glory!

#90 BJ Raji, Image From: www.en.wikipedia.org
#29 Casey Hayward - In 35 career games, he has 9 interceptions and a fumble recovery. In my eyes, he is a "defensive playmaker" and I can't wait to see him get more opportunities on the field, now that Tramon has bolted for the Browns. By the way, Hayward and Williams each had three picks last year, even though Tramon played the majority of the snaps at CB. Casey is starting material in my mind and should play opposite Sam Shields in 2015, but don't count out Micah Hyde.

#29 Casey Hayward, Image From: www.nfl.com
#33 Micah Hyde - Coach McCarthy had high praise for this young man at the end of June OTA practices. Hyde was drafted in the fifth round in 2012, out of Iowa. He has 2 career interceptions in two seasons. The former Hawkeye DB is a ball hawk. In addition, Hyde has proven that he can return punts and will challenge Casey Hayward for the vacant starting CB position.

#33 Micah Hyde, Image From: www.packersnews.com
No doubt---it takes a team to win and lose a game. Die-hard Packer fans were painfully reminded of that fact last year at Seattle.

No doubt---veterans will have to do most of the hard work, while the rookies will be expected to help when called upon. We need to count on that good old Wisconsin work ethic--which our veterans certainly have-- to be modeled and instilled in the new guys.

So, make no mistake---given the statistics from last year, the onus is not on the Green Bay Packer offense this year, but rather dead center on the defense. The players mentioned above must increase their production and make a dramatic impact in order for the Packers to defeat any team that stands in their way of a Super Bowl 50 win and a 5th Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just 3 Things : The 2015 Green Bay Packers Training Camp

It's that time of year again as the dog days of summer begin and we are just a few short weeks from football season starting.

As an early preview this year I thought I would pick 3 things and or topics to watch for in the 2015 Green Bay Packers Preseason.

First and foremost will our defense be able to tighten up and mesh with the young players in the defensive backfield ? On that same note how will the loss of some key veterans affect communication and  defensive play calls during game time ?

This is a defense that must play as well or better than last year for GB to make a playoff run.

Second and maybe one of the most important issues is a changing of the guard in regards to offensive play calling this season. While many self appointed pundits have hailed this as an epiphany I tend to be more cautious.

Every play caller  has a different style. It makes no difference what level of football but I fully expect a few bumps along the way as the team transitions to a new pace and style on offense. Watch carefully in pre seasons game 2 and 3 for base formation and how the starters attack the opposition.

Third and last in my quick little preview is our dark horse players. Again this season I have picked 3 players who may surprise you and who's name you better know !

First up is 2nd year player Rajion Neal. Neal was doing great things in preseason last year and has picked off where he left off in mini camps. Neal a 5'11 220 from Tennessee knows the system and has all the attributes to compete for the Packers 3rd RB position.

For those of you who missed him in College here are some highlights:

The next player is CB Ladarius Gunter, a great UDFA  pick up Gunter is a big 6-2 corner that played at the U in college. Gunter finished his career at UM  with 109 tackles, 1 FR, 2 FR, 18 PBU and 6 INT.  Gunter may need a little work but he brings that big physical corner mentality to GB and seems to have a nose for the football in mini camp. Watch Gunter close in training camp practices.

Here our his U highlights:

Last but not least is OL Matt Rotherham, he's not pretty and he won't wow you but the former Pitt player cut his teeth in a pro style offense under Paul Chryst and knows how to block. Labeled as a guard now he has enough to flip to RT as well.

So there you have a brief look at 3 things you need to watch for at the 2015 Packers training camp.

What are your 3 things to watch for ? Leave us a comment or go to our Forum and sign up and discuss further Wisconsinsportstalk.net

Until next time ..... Go Pack Go !!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Bits And Pieces

By Mark

I've seen a hundred stories this week about Packer OTA's and 99% of them were fluff. It's hard for fans to understand but since the change in CBA off season work isn't even practice anymore. This was nothing more than a glorified walk through and a chance to install your schemes.

I personally believe you really can't evaluate a roster at any level until you have had 2 good weeks of work and a scrimmage and or pre season game. It's then that you see the evaluation of players really begin.

Interesting note today that Aaron Rodgers won't be at Favres induction ceremony. Big deal ? No and yes. Aaron had another engagement to go too that weekend which happens, however when you're the face of a franchise and the team leader certain things take precedent.

Switching Gears Badger recruiting  is in full swing and Coach Chryst and staff are adding pieces to the machine. I was very happy to see Amherst WI DT Tyler Biadasz  commit to UW last week and over the weekend we added OLB Noah Burke from Carmel (IND). Hopefully the staff can add a couple stud WR and half a dozen top notch lineman to the mix.

One last note is the latest Brewers surge. It maybe to late to make a serious run this year, But at least the boys of summer are making the viewing experience tolerable again. It does make one wonder if there will be a fire sale at some point and what off season changes will be in store.

Until next time.... May your beer be cold and your bratwurst plentiful !