The first phase of Tryouts has ended. Tonight is the first audition for the 99th edition of a team on a mission. I have a premonition that this game of attrition will require much volition to ensure the demolition of opposing competition in what hopefully becomes, a Super Bowl rendition.
The UPS of Camp So Far:
Something named Michael Clark
Apparently there’s a 10 foot tall receiver, or something like that, who played basketball at Marshall that is turning heads at Clark Hinkle field. Since the emergence of Tony Gonzalez, few talking points have been beaten to death in NFL commentary more than, “Here’s the former basketball player using his hardwood skills that translate to the gridiron.” There has to be a law that says if you’re a football commentator, and someone with a known basketball background makes a good play, that you must contribute that to his basketball experience.
Anyway, Clark has been earning the praise of staff and QBs, Rodgers included. For Clark’s sake, and the team’s, let’s hope he continues to wow people with his skills to make it worthwhile to listen Phil Simms or Mr. Cowboys himself Troy Aikman use the tired “he’s a former basketball player” shtick to describe Clark’s stellar play.
Fullbacks look solid
For old times sake, I’m going to say it……KKUUUUUUUUUUHHHHNNNNN!!! Godspeed, Johnny. You will never be forgotten. However, the fullbacks have also been earning the praise from Rodgers. Aaron Ripkowski, who can bench press a house, has continued to impress, sans the backbreaking fumble in the NFCC that earned him a hopefully short-term nickname of “Stripkowski” by a close friend. The thing with this is, it’s 2017, and the fullback is a rarer breed each year. For a team whose forecast is to keep possibly 7 WRs and 3 TEs, will they really keep Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge as fullbacks on the final roster?
News is Quiet on the Offensive Line Front
No news is good news when it comes to the offensive line. Adjusting to life without T.J. Lang will take time. It’s inevitable. Much faith is being put into 2nd year players like Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs to pick up the slack instantly if a starter goes down. Everyone is hoping that Don Barclay ends each contest with as clean of a jersey as possible. This crew is tasked with protecting a Lamborghini. They have to show up
The DOWNS of Camp Thus Far:
This guy had every opportunity given to him from the Packers. There are only so many passes one can get after repeatedly breaking the law along with submitting lackluster performances on the field. As I always say, I hope he turns things around and gets the most he can out of his talent as a ballplayer. With the depth the Packers have accumulated on the defensive line, they can afford this cut.
The Kevin King Approach
Initially, there was the ridiculous NFL rule that prevented him from joining minicamp. From there, the Packers decided to bring him up to speed by taking things slower. Think about this for a second. The Packers decided to ease King’s involvement in reps and drills. This brings to mind an episode of The Simpsons during its heyday in the ’90s. Homer stumbled into a high paying job in a town called Cypress Creek. Shortly after Bart started school there, the staff realized his ineptness as a student and sent him to a remedial class. Bart instantly recognized the concept of the class and stated something along the lines of, “So let me get this straight. In order to catch up to the other kids, we’re going to go slower???”
The Packers have been taking this approach with King since his missed minicamp time. In fact , they played him at scout team wide receiver on the first day of camp. That’s not a typo. They played their first pick of the 2017 draft at a position on the opposite side of the ball. This is a team who could potentially open the season with seven receivers on the roster. Defensive backs rarely excel as rookies. The best solution is reps, reps, reps. For a team desperate for DB depth, they best take the approach of seasoning their top pick as early and often as they can while he’s 4th on the depth chart.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.