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Packers boost offense, re-sign WR Jones and FB Kuhn

The Packers’ offense got a major boost Sunday when the team announced they had to come to terms with free agents wide receiver James Jones and fullback John Kuhn.

The announcements came two days after the Packers released seven players, including veterans Mark Tauscher, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga, which John Clayton reported saved the team $17.1 million in cap space.

The team wasted no time in bringing back two key cogs to the offense, giving both Jones and Kuhn three-year deals. Terms of the contract were not available as of Sunday afternoon.

The moves will make life on Aaron Rodgers easier and it’s apparent he knew that as the quarterback lobbied in the media to bring back both free agents. He had this to say to Don Banks of SportsIllustrated.com:

“I’m a leader on this team and my voice carries a little bit of weight in the locker room. You don’t get better by taking from the whole. You need a guy like [James] Jones back. You need a guy like John Kuhn back. We need guys like that to win.”

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July 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What is James Jones’ importance to the Packers?

Right. Through. His hands.

Chances are if you are a Packers fan and were watching Super Bowl XLV this past February, you uttered those exact words (or something like it) when wide receiver James Jones dropped what would have been a 75-yard touchdown to put Green Bay up 28-10 early in the third quarter.

That phrase may have been a repeat (potentially with added expletives) of what you said when Jones, now a free agent, dropped another would-be touchdown in the Wildcard game against the Eagles. Or his fumble against the Bears in Week 3 that cost the Packers a chance at completing a fourth quarter comeback.

It’s true. Jones has provided more than his fair share of, “What?!” moments in his four seasons with Green Bay, and many would have no problem to see him join another franchise. But are we selling No. 89 short? Will the Packers miss him more than fans think if ultimately he decides to leave Green Bay?

Aaron Rodgers thinks so.

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July 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde answers questions on Twitter

ESPN Wisconsin’s senior Packers writer Jason Wilde took time Saturday afternoon to answer fan’s question regarding the Packers. To see all of Wilde’s tweets, follow him at @jasonjwilde.

Q: Is the starting outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews currently on the roster?

Wilde: Yes, and his name is…Frank Zombo. (That’s my prediction.)

Q: If the Packers decide to re-sign their offensive line, which one do you likely see staying?

Wilde: If they re-sign any offensive linemen, I think it’s Spitz. Cheap as backup. I think Daryn Colledge gets paid elsewhere.

Q: Projected season stats for James Starks?

Wilde: I’d purely be guessing. How about 110 carries, 440 yards four touchdowns rushing?

Q: Will the Packers seek another wide receiver if Jones doesn’t return? I think Cobb is built in a different mold.

Wilde: Nope, I think it’s Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb and Brett Swain.

Q: Everybody seems to be counting me out again. Well, where am I going guys? (Question asked by free agent left guard Daryn Colledge)

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July 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free agency: Who will be back in 2011 and who won’t?

With rumors that the NFL Players Association and owners are nearing an agreement that would begin the 2011-2012 NFL season, it is time to look ahead at the Packers’ free agency situation. Since teams are not allowed to talk or negotiate with free agents, there has not been much buzz on which Packers will be back in Green Bay when the season begins. However, here is a look at each free agent and what his odds of staying in Green Bay are.

1. Cullen Jenkins, Defensive End: After a spectacular 2010 campaign in which he racked up seven sacks, Jenkins could be in line for a massive payday when he hits the open market. While excelling in the Packers’ 3-4 defense, Jenkins has also proved himself as a defensive end in 4-3 schemes during his first five seasons in Green Bay (2004-2008). A year ago, Jenkins freed up rushing linebackers with his size and also used his speed to get to the quarterback, all while playing the majority of the season with a broken hand. The Packers drafted defensive ends Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson a year ago and still have Ryan Pickett, Justin Harrell, Howard Green and Jarius Wynn on the roster. Seventh round pick, Arizona State rookie Lawrence Guy, could also break the rotation and the Packers could look at a cheaper defensive end in free agency. Those players, combined with the massive contract Jenkins should receive from another team, makes it likely that Jenkins’ tenure in Green Bay is over.

2. James Jones, Wide Receiver: While the casual fan probably remembers Jones more for his costly drops, his value to the Packers’ offense in 2010 was immense. After tight end Jermichael Finley was lost to a knee injury, Jones improved his play and finished with career highs in receptions (50), yards (679) and touchdowns (5). Unfortunately for the Packers, those numbers for the third, sometimes fourth, option in an offense show that Jones is a starting wide receiver in the NFL. With Greg Jennings signed long-term, Jordy Nelson blossoming and the second round selection of Randall Cobb, Jones should get a chance to start…it just won’t be in Green Bay. If Jones decides winning is more important than money, there is a chance he comes back. But the smart money is on Jones taking the money elsewhere.

3. Brandon Jackson, Running Back:

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July 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers’ End of the Year Grades: Offensive Skill

The Green Bay Packers are World Champs! 11 days later and it still sounds as amazing as it did when Ben Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass on fourth down with under a minute to go. With the season over, it’s time to give out grades to the 53-man roster. Injured players will get their own section later, but for now it’s about the 53 players who suited up in Dallas (OK, only 45 suited up but you know what I mean). Here’s the Packers’ offense year in review.

QB- Aaron Rodgers: Many expected an MVP-type season out of Rodgers, but Packers’ fans will have no problem living with a Super Bowl-type season. The numbers weren’t always there for Rodgers, who missed a game and a half, but he was near impeccable in the playoffs and was named the Super Bowl MVP, a fitting end to a “belt” of a season. GRADE: A

QB- Matt Flynn: Many laughed when an unnamed NFC scout said Flynn was the back-up in football, and Flynn’s pre-season did little to help that case. But an incredible showing against New England on Monday night, 24-of-37, 251 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, made everyone believers. If the Packers don’t trade him, they have a more than serviceable back-up should Rodgers miss any time in 2011. GRADE: B+

QB- Graham Harrell: Thankfully for Packers’ fans everywhere, we didn’t get to see what Harrell could do this season. He didn’t see any action this season. GRADE: INC

RB- James Starks:

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February 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers-Steelers Super Bowl XLV Preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

With just six days remaining until Super Bowl XLV, it’s time to start comparing both teams to see where advantage lie on the rosters. The Pittsburgh Steelers come into the Super Bowl after taking down the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets as the AFC’s No. 2 seed. They used a balanced attack on offense and a swarming defense to get where they are, as they look for their third Super Bowl title in the last six seasons under head coach Mike Tomlin.

Answering for the NFC are the Green Bay Packers, who enter the Super Bowl as the hotter of the two teams. Road wins over the Eagles, Falcons, and Bears as the No. 6 seed has proved they can play with anyone. That’s exactly what Mike McCarthy and the Packers will have to do when they face Pittsburgh. Just two players have Super Bowl experience, Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, while John Kuhn holds the lone S.B. ring, when he was a practice squad member with the Steelers back in 2005.

Here’s a comparison breakdown of each offensive position and which team will hold the edge come Super Bowl Sunday. Teams will either have a neutral edge, a slight edge, or a substantial edge.

Wide Receiver: Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antwaan Randle El vs. Green Bay’s Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson

While the Steelers may hold a slight advantage at quarterback Sunday, the guys catching the ball will have a substantial advantage when Green Bay has the ball on offense. As much of a storied career as Hines Ward has had, Greg Jennings comes into Sunday’s game as the best receiver on either team, and maybe the league. After catching just one ball for eight yards against the Eagles, Jennings has gone for 101 and 130 yards through the air the last two games. While he hasn’t found the endzone in the playoffs this year, his big play capability is undeniable.

Answering in the big play department will be Mike Wallace, who has exploded onto the scene for the Steelers. Wallace averaged a ridiculous 21 yards per catch in 2010 and had 26 catches of 20+ yards. To put that in perspective, that’s five more than Jennings had, who averaged 16.6 yards per catch.

Ward has been on the big stage before, picking up MVP honors in Super Bowl XL. Emmanuel Sanders has become a deep threat as well and Antwaan Randle El is versatile, but the quality and depth the Packers’ receivers have gives them a huge advantage. While Donald Driver has slowed some, James Jones and Jordy Nelson are both No. 2 receivers from a skill standpoint, meaning Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of open targets to throw at. Pittsburgh’s receivers aren’t bad in any sense, but the Packers’ receivers are tops in the league and playing very well right now.

Tight End: Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller vs. Green Bay’s Andrew Quarless

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February 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers’ Week 9 Notes

Green Bay Packers 45, Dallas Cowboys 7: Mini-Game Balls

Clay Matthews: If he wasn’t already in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, Clay Matthews certainly moved his name to the top of the list Sunday night. He tallied a sack, four tackles (two for a loss), two quarterback hits, two passes defended, and a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown off an A.J. Hawk batted ball. He is proving to be the most important player on the Packers’ defense, and quite possibly the team.

James Jones: Filling in for the injured Donald Driver (quad), Jones went for 123 yards on eight receptions, including a 10-yard score on a screen pass from Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. Jordy Nelson is probably the more consistent option going forward, but games like these show why Jones could certainly take over the starting role from Driver sooner than later. It should be noted he also fumbled and dropped a touchdown pass, but in all it was an excellent game for Jones.

Charles Woodson: Tramon Williams and Sam Shields deserve plenty of credit for the defense’s excellent performance, but Woodson finally put together the type of performance that helped him win Defensive Player of the Year honors a season ago. He sacked Jon Kitna once, provided plenty of quarterback hurries from the outside, and finished with five tackles. It was great to see Woodson flying around the field like his old self.

Chad Clifton: The mid-season MVP of the offense could very well be Clifton, who once again dominated in pass protection against one of the game’s elite in DeMarcus Ware. Rodgers was sacked just once Sunday night and the Packers now rank tied for 17th in sacks allowed (17), a huge improvement from last season. Clifton is the main reason for that improvement.

Honorable Mentions: Jarrett Bush, Josh Sitton, Sam Shields, Greg Jennings

Packers Release Cornerback Al Harris

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November 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers’ Rodgers Ready to Make the Jump to Stardom

Heading into the 2008 season, Aaron Rodgers was arguably under more scrutiny than any player in the history of the National Football League.  A former first-round pick, Rodgers had not accomplished much more than two season-ending injuries during his four years in the league.  Many fans believed that legend Brett Favre had been kicked out of town by management, and now all eyes were on Rodgers to see if he could follow in the footsteps of the team’s biggest legend.

The bullseye on Rodgers’ chest only expanded when he was rewarded with a huge contract extension in the middle of the season.  Now the former Cal quarterback was not only the team’s quarterback, but the future as well.  That season, Rodgers responded with a 4000-yard, 28-touchdown performance that brought a few more followers into his corner.  Despite the six-win season, Rodgers showed the poise of a veteran quarterback and commanded the offense better than most expected.

Entering 2009, Rodgers has been the man from day one and is taking over a Packers team that is on the rise in the NFC North.  Two weeks into the preseason, Rodgers is looking like a player ready to go from “good” to “great”.  Mike McCarthy’s West Coast Offense has done wonders for Rodgers, who ranked in the top ten in passing accuracy last season.

Also, the supporting cast that Rodgers is working with this season is one of the fastest and deepest in the league.  Rodgers and number one wide receiver Greg Jennings are forming an excellent chemistry that could become one of the best combos over the next few seasons.  Veteran Donald Driver has been the beneficiary on Rodgers’ accurate arm and still runs the slant prettier than most.  James Jones and Jordy Nelson are both up-and-coming youngsters that will mesh with Rodgers as time goes on.

A new weapon for Rodgers to use this season is tight end Jermichael Finley, who is expected to move into a starter’s role, or at the very least see the majority of the snaps at the tight end position.  All these receiving weapons, combined with an improved run game and offensive line, make Rodgers a prime candidate to move into elite status.

Aaron Rodgers is ready to become one of the league's best passers.

Aaron Rodgers is ready to become one of the league's best passers.

In his first preseason game, Rodgers went five for 10 for 102 yards and a touchdown.  He looked patient and under control and found Driver for a 52-yard score in the first quarter.  Against Buffalo last week, he was almost perfect, going eight for nine for 98 yards and two beautiful touchdown passes to Driver and Jennings.  His only incompletion was a drop by Driver on Rodgers’ eighth attempt.  He has looked crisp, under control, and confident in every throw he makes.

More so than the success that he has seen in the first two preseason games, Rodgers is going to succeed because he has put in the time.  He has been the typical story of grooming a quarterback for a few years instead of throwing him into live fire right away.  He was able to both stay healthy throughout the whole year and play with minor injuries, showing his true competitiveness.

This year it is Aaron Rodgers’ team.  Last year, a lot of the locker room was torn on whether or not Rodgers was the right decision over Favre.  The 17-year-veteran was coming off a year in which he led the team to the NFC Championship Game, and Rodgers was in the direct middle of it all.

While many could see why Favre going to Minnesota and playing the Packers and Rodgers twice a season could be a distraction to the Green Bay signal caller, most of the pressure is on Favre, if anything.  Rodgers knows that he has succeeded in the league while Favre has struggled over the last few years.  It will be important to see who comes out on top in those games, but no one is comparing Favre’s stats to Rodgers’ anymore.

As the 2009 season begins, Rodgers is the team leader and has the respect of everyone in Green Bay.  The fans know that he can perform at a high level and was definitely the better option than Favre.  His teammates know that he is going to fight for them at all times and put the team is a spot to win every week, and management knows he has the tools to become one of the best in the game.  Everything is in place for Rodgers to progress as his career goes on, and it is looking like this will be the year that he makes that jump.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL | , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers’ WR Corps Second to None

Heading into the 2008 season, many wondered how Aaron Rodgers would fare in his first season as the man in charge of running the Green Bay Packers’ offense. After the off-season fiasco that was Brett Favre, Rodgers knew that if he did not produce quickly the Packers faithful would have very little patience.

Lucky for Rodgers, his offense sported the best receiving corps in the NFL and only got better as the year went on. The 24-year-old from California would finish his pressure-filled season with 4038 yards, 28 touchdowns, just 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 93.8, that ranked him sixth in all of football.

While his late-game production was disappointing to many, and the Packers’ 6-10 record did not impress, Rodgers got his first year as a starter under his belt and gained experience that will only make him better this upcoming fall. Along with the experience he has gained, the guys he will be throwing to also make things a little easier.

Leading the way for the Pack, fresh off his contract extension, is Greg Jennings. Entering his fourth year, the 25-year-old from Western Michigan, has already shot into the top ten discussion when it comes to receivers. Over the last two years, Jennings has racked up over 2200 yards and twenty one touchdowns to lead the Packers.

After signing a contract extension this summer, he went and trained in Minnesota at a camp hosted by Larry Fitzgerald. Chris Carter and Jerry Rice were two of the highlights of the camp and there is no doubt Jennings learned some valuable tidbits while attending.

Outside of his talent, Jennings is everything you could ask for in a star wide receiver. He doesn’t have his own show on VH1 and he has no plans, that I know of, to change his last name to a spanish number. When he scores a touchdown, he finds his teammates instead of a cell phone hidden in the goal post. When another receiver scores a touchdown, he is the first to congratulate him instead of asking for the ball more.

He does things the right way and the fact that the combo of Rodgers and Jennings is signed for the next four years means good things are about to happen for the Packers offense. A large part of why Jennings is the way he is can be attributed to his friend and teammate who lines up away from him every Sunday.

Donald Driver will be entering his eleventh season as a Green Bay Packer and has showed little signs of slowing down. Seemingly ageless, Driver was on the right side of his fifth straight 1,000 yard season despite handing over the reisngs of a number one receiver to Jennings.

After the Alcorn State grad was a surprising no show at the voluntary mini-camps, many wondered whether or not he was happy with his contracts. I wrote on why Driver was wrong if he thought he deserved a pay raise, and clearly so did Driver as he explained the matter was family, not contract, related.

With the depth at wide receiver the Packers have this year, it would not be a shock to see Driver’s numbers decrease from last year. Mike McCarthy has explained he would like to run the ball more and the aforementioned depth is a good problem to have. Don’t expect Driver to slack on effort or pout if he doesn’t see the ball enough. He is the epitome of a guy that straps on his helmet and goes out and plays the game.

While Jennings and Driver will be holding down the one and two spots on the depth chart, the third option is wide open and the Packers will have two very solid players fighting for the position.

In my eyes, the front-runner to win the job is last year’s second round selection Jordy Nelson. In his rookie campaign, the 24-year-old from Kansas State, racked up 366 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns in the limited time he saw on the field.

Jordy Nelson will hopefully avoid a second year slump this year.

Jordy Nelson will hopefully avoid a second year slump this year.

His blocking skills were also a very positive note from Nelson’s rookie season and it is a trait that should give him even more playing time this year. When I watch him play, I see a younger Brandon Marshall. He goes up and fights for balls with his huge frame at 6′3″, 217 lbs. and fights like a tight end to gain extra yards.

If Nelson does not win the job, James Jones will be the reason why.

After an outstanding rookie season that saw him haul in 47 passes for 676 yards and a couple of touchdowns, injuries slowed his second year to a screeching hault. Combined with rumors of him falling out of favor with the coaching staff, his season was limited to ten games that saw him catch just 20 passes and score once.

In week 15 against Jacksonville, Jones racked up 132 yards on five catches and began to show his old form from two seasons ago. Early returns have been all positive for him, and even if he does not beat out Nelson he will be a heck of a fourth wide receiver.

The front-runner to grab the fifth and probably last wideout spot this year is Ruvell Martin. Despite just thirty one catches over the last two years, Martin has been a clutch target for his quarterbacks and is an above average blocker.

Brett Swain and undrafted free agent Jamarko Simmons both have shots at making the team and it would not be crazy to think the Packers would keep six receivers on their roster if someone warranted in a spot. As it goes for these five, they make up the deepest corps in the league.

They have great chemistry with each other and love whenever someone succeeds. No one in the group has an ego bigger than the team and they all strive for greatness. They work hard at their craft and are developing with Rodgers every day.

Training camp will tell a lot of the story on just how good this group can be along with running back Ryan Grant and tight ends Donald Lee and the rising Jermichael Finley, but all signs point to this group having another stellar year for the high-powered Packers offense.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL | , , , | 1 Comment