Why 12? You know why.
1. Ladarius Gunter is going to make the team. This is the first of a few things that I’m going to write in this space that were discussed when Ryan Hillesland and I sat down with the guys from Packer Translpants. Gunter has been the talk of camp in the defensive backfield, and for good reason.
Timed speed (to be fair a brutal 4.69 40 at the combine) kept Gunter from being drafted but as you can see in this very good scouting report from our friend Andy Herman at TTSO, Gunter’s playmaking ability and size largely made up for his lack of speed. He has caused multiple turnovers at camp and just needs to continue to make plays to keep the tradition of Ted Thompson UDFAs making the final roster.
2. Ty Montgomery is going to be good, and you were all foolish to doubt Ted. I don’t know what would possess someone to doubt a wide receiver taken by Ted Thompson in the first three rounds but it certainly went on after Montgomery’s selection. His hands were questioned, his route running was questioned, in fact whether or not he was a running back or a wide receiver was questioned.
We might only be 4 practices into the season but Montgomery is everything you would expect from a Ted Thompson draft pick at wide receiver. Sam Shields has been comparing him to Percy Harvin. “Guys are scared to tackle him because he’s so big and fast.” I remember some brilliant writer making this comparison after the draft.
If Montgomery, who I’ve decided to creatively nickname “Monty” is a bigger version of Harvin who happens to be a Stanford grad instead of a knucklehead sign me up. The video below is a player with wide receiver ball skills:
3. The competition for 3rd ILB job is wide open. The 3rd ILB job is an important one because there are going to be a number of plays that call for Clay Matthews to rush from the outside, especially in passing situations. I would guess that Sam Barrington is going to play almost every down on defense this season, who joins him will be interesting.
I think the fans would like to see rookie Jake Ryan seize that opportunity. I think the coaching staff is giving him every opportunity. Not only did I see him slide in with the “1s” for the 2 minute/no huddle drill, but he gets tons of reps in practice. Ryan gets reps with the first second and third teams, which might be part of the coaching staff getting him ready to play.
There are certainly other candidates, though. Last year’s 4th round pick Carl Bradford could be a useful thumper. He’s an edge convert just like Nate Palmer who appears to possibly even have the lead in the 3rd ILB battle. Guys like Joe Thomas and Josh Francis are technically a part of it as well but are long shots.
4. My guy can’t make the club in the tub. Any one who pays attention to anything I write, say on the podcast or tweet knows that I’m a fan of North Dakota State. I’m a North Dakota native and I’ve watched John Crockett for the last 4 years. I am invested in John’s success not only as a Bison fan but as a Packers fan as well. I (think I) know that John is one of the best 3 running backs on the roster but he needs to start practicing.
Raijon Neal and Alonzo Harris are getting carries in practice that could and probably should be going to Crockett. The longer it takes for Crockett to get back from the ankle injury suffered at OTAs the further he gets away from the final 53 and the closer he gets to the practice squad.
5. Kennard Backman needs to play better. I paid attention to the tweets coming from practices 1 and 4 and attended practices 2 and 3 live (and with a great vantage point I might add) but I don’t remember Kennard Backman doing much of anything. That’s not always a bad thing, but I don’t like it in this case.
Obviously if you’re not hearing a tight end’s name it’s possible the plays are just going to the wide receivers. It’s possible he’s not missing blocking assignments or run blocks. The problem is that with the “issues” that the Packers have at tight end Backman has a real chance to make an impact. The fact that Mitchell Henry is getting some #1 special teams snaps and might have jumped Backman is as Coach Mac would say: “not pawsitive”.
6. The 1919 Kitchen and Tap looks great, but it isn’t big enough. The restaurant and bar itself are very attractive and from what I understand the beer selection is fantastic and the food is on point. The issue is that it was a non-game-day and Ryan and I were told that it would be a 2 hour wait for a table for two.
When I looked at the capacity for the fire marshall the restaurant is rated for fewer than 500 people. It’s probably not OK to have a 500 person restaurant in an 80,000+ seat stadium but time will tell. I’m looking forward to (trying) to eat there during Seahawks weekend.
7. The Jeff Janis jokesters might want to stop joking soon. I understand why there’s hype around Jeff Janis. His measurables are off the charts. He’s big. He’s fast. He likes to hunt and fish. Also, Wisconsinites really seem get a kick out of white guys.
I also get why there are jokes. Janis has never accomplished anything in the NFL. Fans clung to him as an option as a deep threat when Jarrett Boykin proved ineffective. Fans clung to him as an option as a kick returner. His legend grew even though he wasn’t playing on the field. Janis has become some kind of reverse Chuck Norris for snarky Packers fans.
The thing is, Janis is going to make the team. He has been the most athletic receiver on the team since the second he was drafted. As he grasps the playbook more and more he becomes more viable. When I was at practice Janis ran with the first team in any 4 WR set. I understand that Jared Abbrederis was hurt, but Janis ran with #1 special teams units as well. He’s part of the plan.
8. Damarious Randall is an outside cornerback. I know that most of the types of players that can play corner or safety normally play in the slot. Guys like Micah Hyde play better in space and switching between nickel corner and free safety is easier.
One might think the Packers would use Randall in the same way. One would be wrong. Every snap that I saw Randall take was outside. He has the size and the athletic ability to play outside corner and there isn’t a coach in the world I’d rather have teaching him than Joe Whitt.
9. Speaking of Janis and Randall:
10. Offensive veterans are being eased in. I don’t think I saw Aaron Rodgers make 3 total throws over 15 yards. He made some longer throws during WR/DB one on ones and also in the deep-ball-into-the-net drill (we’ll get to that later), but you could tell the 31 year old QB was on a pitch count.
Josh Sitton was another guy who had his reps limited. It’s obvious to me that Sitton is healthy but Coach McCarthy doesn’t believe that Sitton needs the reps and the younger guys do. I couldn’t agree more.
11. Matt Blanchard is not a camp arm. Matt Blanchard has a legitimate chance to provide value to the Packers down the road. He is not Chase Rettig. I was and continue to be a big believer in Brett Hundley’s talent but if they can slide Blanchard to the practice squad he would be great Scott Tolzien insurance.
I’ll be very interested to watch Blanchard in preseason action.
12. Twelve. Damn.