Packers Throttle Chiefs, Look Ahead to Regular Season
With the preseason over the Packers can now look ahead to their week 1 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Here are a few key things to look out for both this week, and the rest of the season.
Harrell has big night- Backup quarterback Graham Harrell finally came through with the strong preseason performance the Green Bay Packers were looking for, driving the offense for touchdowns on all three of his possessions. Harrell’s play has been scrutinized by fans and the media all preseason. It was comforting for doubters to see the MVP Aaron Rodgers’ backup complete 13 of 15 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns.
Packers start trimming roster to 53: The Packers’ brass had some tough decisions to make to get the roster down to 53 players. See who made the final cut and will be with the team as they look to get back to Super Bowl form.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Packers will need to be ready for a tough Week 1 game against the San Francisco 49ers September 9th. Many believe this is a potential NFC Championship Game preview; if these teams do in fact meet again in January, expect pundits to point to this week one matchup when predicting who will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
2012 NFL preview: Packers go 16-0?: The AccuScore computers use digital profiles of NFL players and coaches to predict outcomes based on game and season simulations. AccuScore has the Packers following their 15-1 regular season up with a perfect 16-0 mark. As ESPN blogger Kevin Seifert so eloquently puts it, “Everyone is stabbing in the dark when it comes to preseason NFL predictions, whether you're a computer like AccuScore or a television analyst or even a two-bit blogger. So enjoy it. Embrace it. Discuss it. And hold on tight for what surely will be a wild 2012 season.”
Week Five & Six
The Packers are in the final stretch of what was a long and injury filled training camp. Nine players missed the last practice open to fans after half a dozen were placed on injured reserve and two more on the physically unable to perform list. Before the Packers open the season on September 9th against 2011 NFL runner-up San Francisco, they must avoid serious injuries in their last preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 75-man roster still has to be reduced to 53, and in the closing game, everyone on the bubble will get one more chance to make an impression and avoid Coach McCarthy's final cuts.
James Starks isn’t ready yet: Injuries appear set to hound James Starks for a third straight season. Hope for the running back’s return for the season opener may be running low. The turf toe that has sidelined him through camp hasn’t healed as fast as the Green Bay Packers would like.
Packers defense turns up the pressure: A season after ranking 27th in the NFL in sacks, the Packers put a premium on getting better at getting to the passer. Green Bay’s defense turned up the heat on Cincinnati, and turned up their confidence at the same time.
Backfield gets better with Benson: Cedric Benson’s impressive debut against Cincinnati a week after he signed as a free agent has boosted hope the Packers’ running attach will be more than an afterthought this season.
Aaron Rodgers promises revenge on John Kuhn: “Kuuuhhnnn” is what many Packer fans chanted after watching the video of Kuhn smashing a pie in Rodgers face. As the team leader, Rodgers has no choice but to accept that his teammates got him good. Also, as the face of the Packers, he has no choice but to seek revenge in a way that will give Kuhn nightmares for weeks.
Week four of training camp was filled with ups and downs for the Packers. They lost to the Cleveland Browns in their second exhibition game, but came away pleased with the fact they didn’t sustain any major injuries. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense showed some signs of life, but are still turning the ball over too much in both games and practice. Charles Woodson has made a smooth transition to safety, but who’s going to play there in the nickel defense? Here are some of the other big stories from week four of Packers training camp:
Graham Harrell’s development: The Packers’ coaches are saying all the right things, but behind closed doors they can’t be pleased with his 52.9 completion percentage.
Cedric Benson’s assimilation into the offense: Benson will play in his first preseason game with the team on Thursday and is doing everything he can to get up to speed.
Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings return from injuries: The Packers have been without two of their biggest offensive weapons, Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings, for most of training camp. That changed this week when both returned to practice.
Last week the Packers saw their first game action of the year against Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Both coaches and fans got their first extended looks at many of the rookies and free agent pickups, as well as a brief look at some of the Packers veterans. While the Packers never led at any point and added more players to an already lengthy injury report, the match-up gave coaches valuable insights as to where the team can improve.
Maybe Packer fans are spoiled by Aaron Rodgers, but many observers agree QB Graham Harrell was average in his first extended action as the #2 QB. Harrell has shown improvement in nearly every area since last season and despite a shaky start against the Chargers, Harrell’s confidence grew as the game progressed. Harrell finished the night completing 14 of 25 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Read the full story here.
Unless surgery reveals linebacker Desmond Bishop’s hamstring injury isn’t quite as bad as the initial tests show, the linebacker’s season is probably over. Bishop was arguably the Packers’ best defensive player last season and will be a hard loss to overcome should he be place on IR. Read the full story here.
In addition to Bishop, cornerback Davon House’s hot start to training camp has hit a snag after he dislocated his left shoulder against the Chargers. House was injured much of the 2011-2012 season and will now miss between two and three weeks while his shoulder heals. With House on the sidelines, rookie cornerback Casey Hayward saw increased reps with the first-team defense and will look to take control of the battle for the #2 cornerback position. Read the full story here.
A new face arrived at Monday’s practice, eager to shore up an injury-riddled backfield. Due to a rule contained in the new CBA, Benson has been unable to participate in full contact drills and will have to wait until after the team’s game with the Browns to show the coaches he still has some gas in the tank. Read the full story here.
The second week of camp saw layers finally getting a chance to prove themselves under the lights during the Packers Family Night Scrimmage. Some players showed flashed of brilliance, and others flamed out. Check out some of the top storylines from the week that was.
One of the players that shined the brightest on Family Night was rookie second round pick Jerel Worthy. The Michigan State product came alive from what some were calling a lackdaisical start to camp by applying steady pressure on the quarterback and making eye opening tackle for loss on a run by Du'ane Bennett. Read the full story here.
As expected, everyone's focus during the first few weeks of training camp has been on the new additions to what was arguably the worst defense in the NFL last season. While the contributions of the newcomers will be important, Clay Matthews' return to the right side could prove to be the most important move the team made all season. Read the full story here.
New center Jeff Saturday, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, is getting used to his new team's way of pass-blocking. If the first couple weeks of camp are any indication of how he will perform during the season, Saturday will be a perfect fit as the replacement for the departed Scott Wells. The veteran is wisely using training camp to learn the offensive terminology and is happy for the next three weeks the perfect the Packers' language and blocking combinations. Read the full story here.
Looks like cornerback Tramon Williams is back from recovering his shoulder bruise from the NFL Kickoff Game against the Saints in 2011. The injury limited him last season but so far Williams's performance has been solid. The Packers depend on Williams' health to help improve a pass defense that finished dead last in the NFL last season. Although he hasn't been in game action yet, odds of facing better receivers in practice than any game are high. Read the full story here.
Worthy Gives Attiude Running Drills
Matthews and #1 Draft Pick Perry 7-26-12
Saturday Works with His Second MVP Quarterback Rodgers
Williams Estimated the Injured Area was Operating at About 50%
We aren't very far into the Green Bay Packers 2012 training camp, and as expected, fans are left with more questions than answers. The first week was filled with energetic players, two days in full pads, a couple minor injuries, breakout performers and a rare day off on Sunday. Every NFL team has officially started training camp, which means the rookies are ready to prove their worth and veterans show their experience. Here are some of the top stories from the first week of camp:
Donald Driver Hangs On
A quick glance on the field reveals some of the best players in the NFL. Quarterback Aaron Rodger is the reigning MVP. Linebacker Clay Matthews is one of the league's top pass-rushers and defensive back Charles Woodson is a future Hall of Famer. It took only a few minutes, however, to realize that receiver Donald Driver is the fan favorite here at Packers training camp. Whether it was his victory in "Dancing With the Stars," his decision to accept a pay cut to remain with the franchise or the phenomenal condition he reported to camp in, Driver elicits a roar for every step he takes downfield. Read the full story here.
Packers TE Jermichael Finley returns to practice after 'mild' concussion
TE Jermichael Finley practiced for the first time in pads Tuesday since suffering a concussion last week. Coach McCarthy, though, isn’t concerned about his starting TE. McCarthy: “Jermichael is such a playmaker. It is an installation phase of training camp; a lot of new plays today. I thought he did fine." Read the full story here.
Shake-up in secondary starts with Woodson
On the other side of the field, Charles Woodson is someone the Packers have always relied on to make big plays. The closer Woodson is to the ball, the more effective he is. The coaching staff has strategically moved Woodson from cornerback to safety to give them more freedom to move him around as they see fit. Read the full story here.
Wednesday morning, one day before the first practice, Packers Coach Mike McCarthy started with a 30-minute news conference. McCarthy discussed his unique practice schedule, the injured players and the team's approach to this season.
Everyone is anxious to know who will be practicing at training camp after some key players were hurt last season. Here are some highlights of the injured players:
Tight end Andrew Quarless is not likely to pass his physical before start of training camp, which means he isn’t ready to practice in full yet. Quarless suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 4th quarter kickoff return against the New York Giants in 2011. Last year, the injury was so significant reports said he could miss the entire 2012 season and the injury could possibly end his career.
Offensive tackle Derek Sherrod broke his right leg when linebacker Tamba Hali rolled into him during the fourth quarter of the Packers 14-19 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He has been working out every day and making progress after a setback during the spring. McCarthy and the trainers are very confident and believe he's getting better but are wary of allowing him to practice in full.
Full Back John Kuhn joins Quarless and Sherrod’s uncertainty of returning as well. Kuhn suffered an MCL sprain in Green Bay’s heartbreaking playoff loss to the Giants. Six months later, he has been working hard to rehab his knee but still isn’t 100 percent sure he’ll be able to go full speed at the start of camp.
After a knee injury in week 7, running back Alex Green is very close to being ready to practice, but hasn't received the green light from the doctors.
Coach McCarthy has assured the players will have more tackling drills, but nothing too rigorous as the risks for injury is too high.
Despite uncertainty with some injuries, the players and coaches are anxious to start the season with a successful training camp and aim to improve on their historic 2011 regular season.
Andrew Quarless - December, 4 2011
Derek Sherrod - December 18, 2011
Alex Green - October 23, 2011