Jclombardi reviews Packers headlines & blogger news.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
PACKERS: KEY OFF-SEASON DATES:
- July 31–Training camp, first practice; schedule
- Aug. 7–Packers Family Night scrimmage
- Aug. 31–Roster cutdown to maximum of 75 players
- Sept. 4–Roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players
PACKERS: EXHIBITION SEASON
- Aug. 14: Browns at Packers, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 21: Packers at Seahawks, 9 p.m.
- Aug. 26: Colts at Packers, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 2: Packers at Chiefs, 7 p.m.
Bigby, Harris & Starks on PUP: Cornerback Harris (knee), strong safety Bigby (ankle), and rookie RB Starks (nagging hamstring injury) failed their physicals and were put on the reserve, physically unable to perform list. They are eligible to come off when deemed healthy. Packers optimistic cornerback Al Harris will be healthy for regular season. Harris says, “He’s ahead of schedule and should be ready by preseason game 3.” We shall see, but for now, CB Williams and rookie S Burnett have opportunities to play since the team will be counting on them in 2010 season.
McCarthy Press Conference: Harris is ahead of schedule, but not sure about Week 1 though. Burnett replacing Bigby for now. Havner is full go. Lang will have brace on wrist but full participant. Can they rush passer? Yes mentioning Barnett and Jenkins as strong options. Bulaga only a left tackle and Lang only right side. McCarthy thinks Super Bowl within reach.
Packers by Position: Linebackers–Packers are bidding to join the Steelers, Jets and Cowboys among top linebacker groups employing the 3-4. Green Bay must find other ways to generate heat off the edge besides just Matthews. Capers is hopeful Barnett, Chillar, and Bishop can raise havoc in fire-zone packages. We agree with this hope considering their talents.
Remembering LB Nitschke: APC nominated legendary Packers MLB Ray Nitschke to the SBN Wisconsin Hall of Fame. If our linebackers can play like this great Lombardi legend, who needs to worry about our 2010 season as no power on earth will stop them.
Special teams are improved?: Packers’ special teams ‘much further along’ than last season, says coach Slocum. Last season, Packers finished No. 31 in the NFL in the Dallas Morning News’ annual special teams rankings. Best route to improved special teams is better play from specialists. Packers need Bryan or Masthay to provide a major upgrade at punter; Will Blackmon to return to form as a returner after knee-reconstruction surgery; and Crosby to have moved past the technical problems that plagued his field-goal kicking last season.
Things to Watch at training Camp: Rush passer better; Rodgers must stay on the field; Woodson must continue playing at an elite level; Special teams must improve in every way; and Raji must become a player. We will need an inside rush to improve the pass rush.
Questions to Watch at training Camp: Packer Update asks: Who’ll be the No. 3 wide receiver?; What happens if Grant gets hurt?; Will Raji play like a 9th overall pick?; Will the special teams be better?; Can Harris return and be effective?; Is there a legitimate punter on the roster?; Can Underwood and Lee step up?; Will the offensive line get off to a faster start?; Will the pash rush be good enough?; and Can the Packers win without Rodgers for an extended period?
Offseason reviews: Good–GM Thompson’s long-term approach to building an NFL team helped the Packers solidify their future at several key spots. By re-signing Pro Bowl safety Collins, tackles Clifton and Tauscher and defensive lineman Pickett, he remained committed to retaining most of the team’s valuable veterans. By drafting Bulaga, Neal, and Burnett, he helped plan for future openings at left tackle, defensive end and safety. Ugly–by virtually ignoring the free-agent market, it’s nearly impossible to plug obvious holes at CB and OLB. So, did TT do enough to turn a playoff team in 2009 into a Super Bowl team in 2010?
Lombardi readings: The great Vince Lombardi left a coaching legacy of five NFL championships in his nine seasons with the Packers. Several books on Lombardi are set for release or reissue including Pat Summerall’s “What I Learned About Life from Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry” and “When Pride Still Mattered: Lombardi” by David Maraniss that serves as the basis for the Broadway-bound play “Lombardi” scheduled to open in October.