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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Nelson Injury Affects Depth The Most

Packers Receiver Jordy Nelson

The first pit in my stomach came when Jordy Nelson clapped his hands together in anger after going down in Pittsburgh.  Nelson’s a smart football player.  He’s also not a very demonstrative one.  For him to be that upset in a preseason game I hoped it was just an ankle, but it probably wasn’t.  We would later find out that it was indeed an ACL tear and that Nelson would be lost for the season.

Does that affect the offense immediately? Of course.  Are the Packers still Super Bowl contenders? They certainly  are.  The Packers offense, as an 11 man unit has certainly been changed.  Their potential as possibly the greatest Packers offense of the modern era may have left them but they can still be very effective.

The Packers offense can function without Nelson.  He’s important.  He’s also an elite talent at receiver, though he doesn’t often get the credit he deserves.  The Packers still have options.  Randall Cobb is the league’s premier slot receiver.  Eddie Lacy, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Richard Rodgers are all top 100 picks by Ted Thompson.  The cupboard is far from bare.

It’s possible that the Packers have a philosophical change and limit their use of 3 receiver sets.  It would eliminate the need to use young receivers Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery.  It would also allow the offense to use the talents of two of the John Kuhn, Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers group.  These are all players that have knowledge of the offense, and that have the quarterback’s trust.


Where Do Packers’ Rookies Stand after Two Preseason Games?

Packers CB Damarious Randall

The Green Bay Packers are one of the best teams in the NFL at utilizing a draft and develop mentality. They select players in the draft who have the potential to contribute immediately as rookies, as well as players who will grow into future stars that the Packers retain in free agency.

This year, Green Bay selected four offensive players and four defensive players in the draft, and has a number of undrafted rookies who are making impacts in the preseason as well. With the preseason now halfway finished, which direction are the Packers’ rookies headed in as they fight to make the final roster?

Damarious Randall – The Packers’ first round selection was hampered by an injury during portions of training camp and was held out of the team’s first preseason game against the Patriots. He played adequately in Week 2 against the Steelers, allowing three receptions on five targets. Randall also made an interception on the first play of the second half, demonstrating the ball-hawking ability that the Packers hope Randall continues to exhibit throughout the season. He has yet to make a case to be a starting cornerback for Green Bay, but he will see significant playing time this year.


Monday Headlines: Other News From Packers’ Preseason Loss

Packers Tight End Richard Rodgers

By now every Packers fan the world over has heard about the likely loss of Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson for the entire 2015 season.  While cheeseheads are still going through the fandom grieving process, the team must already be moving on, analyzing tape on Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and preparing for Saturday’s match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Lost in the story of Nelson are a number of story lines from yesterday’s game, less important than the loss of Nelson but important to the team nonetheless.

Question Marks at Left Tackle

While there is no reason to believe that starting LT David Bakhtiari will not be ready to go come Week 1 of the regular season, the poor performance of back-up LT Don Barclay is certainly a cause for serious concern.  Barclay has been downright terrible in pass protection in both of the Packers’ preseason games thus far, giving up multiple sacks and allowing pressure on nearly every passing down.  Called holds have seemingly been his only way of slowing down his man.

Even if Bakhtiari is ready for the regular season opener, it’s certainly discouraging to think that the team is one sprained ankle, concussion, or stepped-on toe from seeing Barclay protect the MVP’s backside in real games.  Perhaps it’s time for the team to give Jeremy Vujnovich a shot with the 1st or 2nd team.  At this moment, the team doesn’t appear to have a lot of answers other than to hope beyond hope that Bakhtiari stays healthy.


Turf Woes Decimate Packers, It Ends Here

Jordy Nelson Knee

This is a difficult scenario to envision as a Packer fan. Two starters down with injury in a preseason game is a huge blow, especially if the initial diagnoses are confirmed. In a game that is only meaningful for those trying to make the bottom of the roster, this leaves a sour taste, but that isn’t what upset me during the game.

Those injuries hurt to see, especially as someone who has faced plenty of injuries in my time as an athlete. The worst part was that they could been somewhat avoided by any sort of decent field conditions. Any sort of non-contact injury is usually largely caused by a misstep on turf that isn’t at its top condition, and that is what happened to Jordy Nelson.

But he wasn’t the only one that got injured in this game in a possible turf related instance. Maurkice Pouncey was rolled up after his right cleat got caught in the turf and he now requires ankle surgery. We don’t know the complete story of TJ Lang’s concussion, at least I don’t, and maybe a caught cleat and a slip could’ve caused a blow to the head.

My point is, Pittsburgh needs to step up their game when it comes to turf. Numerous times over its history, the turf at Heinz Field has been criticized by players, coaches, and even former NFLPA President Gene Upshaw. And injuries have come aplenty from turf like this. And after a calamitous game like this in which three key players from both teams got seriously injured, it is time to admit that this turf is unsatisfactory and to replace it. Look at the examples of Pittsburgh’s woes.


Would Wrestling at Practice Perk Up Green Bay Packers Play?

Curly Culp, Arizona State wrestler and Kansas City Chiefs football player.

Shortly after I finished the fourth grade at Carlton Middle School in Milwaukee, my family moved 20 miles west, to the “bedroom community” of Pewaukee in 1970.  A few days later I would be introduced to the sport of wrestling by the Watt brothers (Al, Jerry and John) in their back yard.  Al and Jerry Watt often organized tournaments so we were wrestling constantly in the grass.

By the time I was a 9th grader I was 105 lbs., and to my surprise, found myself wrestling on the Pewaukee varsity team.  I guess all that wrestling in Watt’s back yard paid off, even though I was always one of the lightest guys.  Winning 4 consecutive Scenic Moraine team championships was the highlight of my high school wrestling career, but what I remember most was the lifelong lessons learned:  Accountability, Initiative and Perseverance.

Since then, I have enjoyed 30 plus years of successful teaching experiences as a high school shop teacher, 20 plus years as a wrestling assistant/head coach and 20 plus years as the Wisconsin Heights football PA guy.  In other words, I’ve seen my fair share of classrooms, shops, high school football and wrestling.

The high school football season is upon us and I will soon be up in the Heights press box announcing the games.  While each year is a different season, every year the same question pops up: “Do you think high school wrestlers make better football players?”  My answer has always been yes, but I was not 100% sure, since I could only name 2 NFL players who did wrestle in high school.


The Green Bay Packers and the Question of Brett Hundley


Why would the Aaron Rodgers’ led Green Bay Packers draft Brett Hundley, a QB, in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL draft?  That’s the question that many of us were asking ourselves back in May.  And it wasn’t just because the team has arguably the greatest player in the NFL, MVP Aaron Rodgers, manning the helm.  It was everything else.  Sure, the team needs someone who can back-up Rodgers and compete at an NFL level in case the unthinkable occurs, but isn’t that Scott Tolzien?  Isn’t that the young player from Wisconsin who showed resiliency and growth when forced into action early in his development due to Rodgers’ broken clavicle?  Wasn’t that the same Tolzien who, by next preseason, seemed to have surpassed Matt Flynn in production, even though just 9 months earlier Flynn had been brought in as a sort of semi-savior for the team?

And maybe Tolzien isn’t the future of the team, but with Rodgers only 30 and wanting to play as long as his body allows, the team won’t be looking for a real replacement for at least another few seasons.  So why draft Hundley now?

Moreover, how would taking a development project as a middle round draft pick help the roster overall?  Most of us feared that this would simply lead to the loss of a spot for a young player at a real position of need who could contribute right away.  In some ways, that worry is warranted.  Come September, a player like Jared Abbrederis, Demtri Goodson, or Bruce Gaston may be on the street whereas they would have squeaked onto the final roster had the Packers not taken a relatively high-profile QB who could not be stashed on the practice squad for another season.


No room for drama in Packers locker room


If the hot mess streaming out of the Jets’ locker room has taught us anything in the past day is that it sure pays for the Green Bay Packers to be a drama-free team. Who ever thought in this day and age that a back up linebacker would ever put a starting quarterback on the injury list for 10 weeks?

The steaming pile that is the New York Jets and the equally walking disaster that is Geno Smith aside, what does that say about the state of the room? Sure, there will be training camp fights, but they usually amount to a bunch of shoving, perhaps a swing to a helmeted head and ultimately a lot of jawing back and forth. But what happened in New York, as CBS’s Pete Prisco put it, it was assault, plain and simple.

Yes, Geno Smith was likely being a toolbox wagging his finger in IK Enempkali’s. And sure, he likely owed him the cost of a $600 airfare after not showing at IK’s football camp. It’s the recipe for getting the reputation of being an utter jackass. But when did it become okay to sucker punch your moneymaker? Because usually, when you’re starting quarterback is out for any length of time, your team is looking at a pretty good chance at getting a good first round draft pick the following spring.