Archive for the ‘Packers’ Category

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The Green Bay Packers are coming off a 15-1 season after which they fell short in the NFC Divisional Round, losing to the eventual World ChampionNew York Giants.

So what do the the Green Bay Packershave to do get back to the playoffs and another Super Bowl?

The Packers have 12 total draft picks, so they should have a good chance to reload and get back to the playoffs and beyond.

Green Bay’s needs include a pass-rushing linebacker, defensive lineman, cornerback, safety, quarterback, running back.

1st round: 

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State:¬†Ryan¬†Pickett¬†isn’t getting any younger, and ever since¬†Cullen¬†Jenkins¬†departed the defensive line has struggled in getting to the quarterback.

Worthy is 6’2″, 308 pounds, All-American, had 10 tackles for a loss and helped lead Michigan State to the No. 1 rushing defense in the Big Ten. He had 11.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for a loss over his career at MSU. Worthy is more likely to play end in a 3-4 than a nosetackle.

Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC:¬†Perry is 6’3″, and 271 pounds. He fits best as a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker. His strength is rushing the passer.

Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State:¬†McClellin is this year’s¬†Brooks¬†Reed, a player who rode a hot combine and soared up draft boards.

Boise head coach¬†Chris¬†Petersen¬†on McClellin, “You know Shea McClellin’s a trained assassin on the football field. That guy’s been such an unbelievable player for a long time for us and completely and totally underrated, I think maybe, in the public’s eye. I don’t think so much in our opponents’ eyes, certainly not on our coaching staff. And, I just think that’s coming to light right now.” (KBOI2.com)

McClellin is 6’3″ and 260 lbs‚ÄĒundersized to play defensive end. When he gets in the backfield, he finishes plays and runs down the quarterback and would be a great complement to¬†Clay¬†Matthews.

He is explosive with a great motor, plays with hand on the ground and can stand up and rush the passer. (National Football Post).

Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame: With the Green Bay Packers releasing Collins this morning, this makes safety a bigger need.

Smith is 6’2″ and 213 pounds. He is athletic, smart, and has shown ability to step up in the run game as much as the pass game. He is also similar¬†to Packers defenders, especially Charles Woodson, as they like to get up in the passer’s face a lot.

Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: At¬†6’2″ and 272 pounds, Upshaw comes from a great defense and is best when paired up with another outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. (NFL.com)

After the first round, the Packers might look into taking these players:

Possible centers:

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Jeff Saturday is 36 years old, and would be great to help bring Konz up into the NFL after playing with Peyton Manning for his whole career and now Aaron Rodgers.

Konz is 6’5″ and 314 pounds but has some durability issues, suffering a blood clot, a dislocated and sprained ankle in his college career. He was once a possible first-round draft pick but should be selected in the second round.

David Molk, C, Michigan:Remington award winner for best center last season. Is 6’1″ and 298, did 41 reps on bench press at the Combine. Good speed, and a strong player. Could put some weight on. Solid in pass protecton, but needs work when setting in for bullrushes. Can be late in blitzes and needs work with technique. (NFL.com).

Gino Gradkowski, C, Delaware: He can play guard and center, and can learn from Jeff Saturday, while playing guard too until Saturday retires or leaves.

Possible running backs:

Chris Rainey, RB/WR, Florida:¬†He is dynamic and can play two positions. Also incredibly fast‚ÄĒran a 4.45 40-yard dash.

Chris Polk, Washington

Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati

Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M

Defensive Lineman:

Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska:¬†Crick is 6’4 and 294 pounds. While he did get injured last season, he used to be a first-round prospect, and benefited greatly playing alongside Ndamakong Suh his junior year.

At 6-feet-4 1/4, he might not be able to hold a lot more weight, and a lot of teams project him more as a 4-3 guy who can move inside on third down, but he has some natural 3-4 skills, and is getting to play as such. – Len Pasquarelli

Billy Winn, DE, Boise State:¬†Chad Rueter says he is athletic and is a five technique prospect. 6’4, and 294 pounds.

Mike Martin, DT, Michigan:¬†At 6’1″, 306 lbs, he ran a 4.88 40-yard dash. He is strong, and racked up 88 tackles, 17.5 for a loss, and six sacks in his career at Michigan.

A sleeper at cornerback might be,

Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina: A confident, hard worker. I interviewed him on my radio show, the Fan interference (@USFinterference), today and he showed that he will do what it takes to be the best.

He plays with a chip on his shoulder and compared himself to Deion Sanders. At 6′ and 197 pounds, he led the Big South in pass break-ups along with 62 total tackles, two for a loss, two forced fumbles, and a blocked kick.

He also set a school record at Coastal Carolina and conference records with 35 pass break-ups. He could get bigger, stronger and a bit faster, along with improving his technique.

Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin or Kellen Moore, Boise State: Both need some development, but as seen from Rodgers and Matt Flynn, Mike McCarthy is a great quarterback developer.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com has the Packers taking these players in this order:

Shea McClellin, Billy Winn, Dequan Menzie, FS, Alabama, Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa, Kyle Wilbur, OLB, Wake Forest, Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee, David Molk, Patrick Witt, QB, Yale, Deangelo Tyson, DT, Georgia, Gino Gradkowski, Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford and Duke Ihenacho, SS, San Jose State.

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The NFL schedule has been released today and the NFL Draft is next week. There’s hardly a day that doesn’t involve some type of NFL news.

Here is the 2012 Green Bay Packers NFL schedule:

Week 1 vs. San Francisco, 3:15-a great offense vs. a great defense, but don’t count out the 49ers offense or Packers defense. Aaron Rodgers vs. Alex Smith, two first round picks that were selected in 2005. Clay Matthews vs. Patrick Willis. Great matchup in Week One.

Week 2 vs. Chicago Bears, Thursday, 7:20 NFL Network-two historics teams playing a rivalry game. Two offenses that should score a lot, Rodgers and Packers, and now Marshall reuniting with Jay Cutler.

Week 3 at Seattle, MNF at 7:30-Matt Flynn vs Aaron Rodgers. Seems like Seattle is a similar place for Green Bay quarterbacks, first Hasselbeck and now Flynn in Seattle.

Week 4 vs. New Orleans, 3:15-great quarterback matchup, Rodgers vs. Brees and rematch of great Week One game last week where Packers won 42-34.

Week 5 at Colts, noon-Rodgers vs. Luck

Week 6 at Houston, 7:20, SNF-should be a high scoring affair with two explosive offenses, and Clay Matthews plays against former college teammate Brian Cushing.

Week 7 at St. Louis, noon-interesting matchup, Rodgers vs. Bradford; can Bradford step out of a sophomore slump and injuries?

Week 8 vs. Jacksonville, noon-Rodgers vs. Gabbert; how will Gabbert fare in his second year in NFL?

Week 9 vs. Arizona, noon-wide receivers/cornerbacks match-ups catch my eye; Jennings, Nelson, Cobb vs. Patrick Peterson, and Larry Fitzgerald vs. Charles Woodson.

Week 10-BYE

Week 11 at Detroit, noon-Lions made the playoffs last year and will look to challenge for NFC North title. Packers won both meetings last year.

Week 12 at NY Giants, SNF, 7:20-Packers play at Meadowlands hoping to beat the Giants after they ousted them from playoffs last year.

Week 13 vs. Minnesota, noon-The Packers and Vikings play later in the season, always a tough game. Green Bay leads series 53-48-1.

Week 14 vs. Detroit, SNF, 7:20-Lions and Packers in primetime; should be an high scoring affair, remember the last game of last season, Green Bay winning 45-41 and a 1,000 yards of total offense combined.

Week 15 at Chicago, noon-could this match-up decide the NFC North title?

Week 16 vs. Tennessee, noon-former Packers quarterback Matt Hasselbeck plays his old team or will Jake Locker be the quarterback?

Week 17 at Minnesota, noon-finishing the season at the Vikings, an old rival, there is nothing better.

It’s a tough schedule, but with a good draft, re-signing Jermichael Finley and signing Jeff Saturday, the Packers should be back at the top in 2012.

Stunned.

Lambeau Field went silent after the New York Giants knocked  off the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Green Bay Packers best season in franchise history ended Sunday on their own turf. The Packers, and their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, were exposed and beaten by the New York Giants, and their star quarterback, Eli Manning.

Manning played elite, Rodgers did not in this game.

Eli Manning was dominant from start to finish, passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns. It was the Giants second win in Green Bay in four years. Both wins in the playoffs.

Rodgers said after the loss, “We got beat by a team that played better tonight. We play to win championships. You win a championship and you’re kind of at the top of the mountain, and you forget kind of how bad this feeling is. We had a championship caliber regular season and didn’t play well today.”

Here are three reasons the Green Bay Packers exited the playoffs early:

1. Lack of defense

The Green Bay Packers allowed 420 yards of total offense. Eli Manning passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns.

The Packers couldn’t get any pressure on Manning and couldn’t force him to make mistakes. Manning’s only mistake was a interception by Morgan Burnett that the Packers offense failed to¬†capitalize on when John Kuhn fumbled.

Brad Jones recorded their only sack on Manning. The Packers only hit Manning seven times.

The Packers lack of pass coverage hurt them. They allowed a hail mary before halftime that put New York up ten instead of three. The Packers secondary should have knocked the ball down.

The Packers only knocked the ball down five times in the game.

Green Bay’s defense kept making stops on first and second down, but couldn’t get stops on third down, allowing New York to convert eight third downs out of sixteen.

There has to be changes on the Packers defense to contend for a title next season.

2. Turnovers

The Green Bay Packers forced one turnover. They had forced 38 in the regular season.

They also had four turnovers on offense that were literally giant killers. The turnovers definitely swung the momentum.

Aaron Rodgers had not fumbled all season, and John Kuhn fumbled for the first time in his career. Ryan Grant fumbled when the Packers made a huge stop on defense that gave the Giants the ball back in the Packers red zone.

On all three of the Packers fumbles, it appeared they were gaining momentum to score.

Rodgers also threw his seventh interception of the season.

The Packers thrived on forcing turnovers, not making turnovers, and Sunday, it all changed that hurt them.

3. Lack of offense

The Green Bay Packers offense didn’t play like the Green Bay Packers offense. They literally dropped the ball.

The wide receivers dropped seven passes, Aaron Rodgers didn’t look himself, and turnovers killed their momentum.

Rodgers looked a little rusty, as if he hadn’t played a meaningful game in three weeks.

The running game never really got going. (Rodgers was the Packers leading rusher with seven carries for 66 yards).

Rodgers had a decent game passing, but threw several balls that were off the mark. Rodgers went 26 for 46 for 264 yards and two touchdowns and one interception.

Rodgers missed a wide open Greg Jennings in first quarter that would of put the Packers up 7-3, but instead Green Bay settled for a field goal.

Another key pass Rodgers missed was when Jermichael Finley was wide open. Rodgers missed Finley, as he was just a little too far out in front for him to make catch.

Donald Driver was the Packers most consistent receiver catching all three targets passed his way. Driver led the team in yards with 45 yards.

It will be a sobering offseason for the Green Bay Packers; one that will leave a bitter taste in the Packers players and coaches mouths and hungry again for next season.

127297039_crop_650x440The Green Bay Packers have been great to start the 2011 season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The¬†Green Bay Packers¬†are off to a 4-0 start and tied atop the NFC North division with the¬†Detroit Lions. Here are the winners and losers for the Green Bay Packers at the season’s quarter mark:

The Packers have been great so far this season as it is has been hard not to be impressed with the undefeated start for the team.

However, there has been some hiccups for the team. Injuries, and perhaps the lack of offseason workouts, hurt the defense so they could get the right chemistry.

Winners: 

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFLthis season.

Rodgers has a league-leading 73.1 completion percentage, 1,325 passing yards, a 12-2 touchdown-interception ratio and a 124.6 passer rating. Not to mention he averages 331 passing yards a game.

On Sunday he set a new NFL record, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards, pass for four touchdowns and rush for two more.

That’s incredible.

Rodgers has the playmaking mentality in him, along with his leadership and clutch performance.

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson isn’t playing like he is 34 years old.

Yesterday, Woodson had an interception for a touchdown, along with four tackles and a pass defense.

This season, Woodson has played with an energy that won him the Defensive Player of the Year two years ago.

Woodson already has three interceptions, one touchdown, four pass defenses and 14 tackles on the year.

Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers

The Green Bay Packers wide receivers are about as good and young as any team in the NFL this season.

Just about everyone has caught passes from Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers hit nine in his first two games, seven two weeks ago and eight last Sunday.

Greg Jennings has been Rodgers go-to receiver. Jennings has 25 receptions for 366 yards and three touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson has caught 15 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.

James Jones has nine catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Donald Drivers has eight grabs for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The youngster Randall Cobb has seven grabs for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps Rodgers biggest target, Jermichael Finley has 18 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns. All of his touchdowns came against Chicago.

Green Bay Packers Rush Defense: 

The Green Bay Packers rush defense has been the most solid while the offense isn’t on the field.

They gave up their first 100-yard rushing game last week to theDenver Broncos, allowing 119 yards. In the previous three weeks, they gave up 81, 71 and 13 rushing yards.

On the season, they are giving up 77 yards per game on the ground and averaging 3.7 yards per rush to opposing running backs.

The Packers defense has also recorded seven sacks on the season.

Losers: 

Green Bay Packers Secondary: 

It was a bummer losing Nick Collins for the season due to a neck injury.

The Green Bay Packers secondary has been relatively weak this season, outside of Charles Woodson and Morgan Burnett.

They gave up 265 yards and 384 total yards yesterday. The defense had given up 403.3 yards in the first three games. The Packers rank 28th in the league in yards allowed.

Last year, the Packers gave up 320 yards in six of their first eight games of the season, they only allowed that once in their final eight games. (Green Bay Press Gazette).

Perhaps they start to defend the pass better as the season goes on.

To be honest, the Green Bay Packers linebackers haven’t been that bad. They are getting pressure and blitzing the quarterback, and are attacking the run, but perhaps they should help the secondary stop the pass in the future more.

This linebackers have combined for 4.5 sacks.

Desmond Bishop leads the team in tackles with 36 total tackles.

Clay Matthews is off to a slow start with 14 tackles and just one sack. Matthews has been solid in the pass rush, teams are just blocking him.

The Packers linebackers will only continue to get better. It just takes time.

Green Bay Packers Linebackers: 

To be honest, the Green Bay Packers linebackers haven’t been that bad. They are getting pressure and blitzing the quarterback, and are attacking the run, but perhaps they should help the secondary stop the pass in the future more.

This linebackers have combined for 4.5 sacks.

Desmond Bishop leads the team in tackles with 36 total tackles.

Clay Matthews is off to a slow start with 14 tackles and just one sack. Matthews has been solid in the pass rush, teams are just blocking him.

The Packers linebackers will only continue to get better. It just takes time.

The NFL preseason is halfway over which only means one thing, coaches will have to trim rosters down. Here are ten players that deserve a roster spot given on their preseason:

1. Brandian Ross, CB-

Brandian Ross is a rookie out of Youngstown State. Ross has had a great preseason. Ross started things off with an interception of Aaron Rodgers at Family Night. Then, last Friday, late in fourth quarter picked off a pass in the endzone to ensure the Packers first preseason win.

Ross didn’t have the offseason to show why he deserves a roster spot, but is doing it rightly for so in the preseason.

2. M.D. Jennings, S-

M.D. Jennings is a rookie out of Arkansas State. Jennings led the Packers in tackles last Friday night with seven total, six were solo. Jennings had three total, two solo against Cleveland as well. Jennings also had an interception.

Jennings is working hard, and earning his way onto the roster.

3. Tori Gurley, WR-

Tori Gurley is a rookie out of Maryland. Gurley has been a nice target for Graham Harrell. In practice, Gurley caught a 50 yard bomb from Harrell, and caught passes in double coverage early in training camp. (Packer Report.com) Gurley caught the ball three times for 31 yards against Arizona while being targeted three times. Gurley caught it twice for 21 yards against Cleveland.

While the Packers have a lot of receivers, consideration should be mentioned. The practice squad would even be nice for Gurley.

4. Josh Gordy, CB-

Josh Gordy isn’t a rookie, and is impressing Packers coaches. Gordy had an interception against Cleveland to go along with a sack. Also, hit the quarterback and knocked down a pass. Last Friday, Gordy had had just one tackle.

With the same situation with receivers, the Packers have a lot of cornerbacks. Just maybe Gordy can squeeze out a roster spot.

5. Shaky Smithson, WR-

Shaky Smithson is a rookie out of Utah. Smithson lived a hard life, and football helped him be successful. To make the team would mean everything to him and his family.

Smithson can catch balls, and return kicks and punts. The ladder is what may help him make the team. Early in training camp, Smithson was catching passes for touchdowns, and going low to grab passes. (Packer Report.com) In preseason action, hasn’t really got the chance to catch passes, but made the most out of special teams against Cleveland, returning three kicks for 71 yards.

With a name like Shaky, you got to keep this kid on the roster. He will shake defenders all day.

6. Brett Swain, WR-

Brett Swain was a special teams hero for the Packers in last year’s Super Bowl win over the Steelers making huge tackles, and blocks. Swain never has really gotten a chance to catch passes, but when he has, he doesn’t drop them.

Every team needs a solid special team contributor, and Swain is just that.

7. Tom Crabtree, TE-

Tom Crabtree is in a tough position. The Packers have a lot of tight ends, and now especially with drafting D.J. Williams, and Ryan Taylor.

Crabtree has had a quiet preseason, catching just one pass for five yards in the two preseason games. However, last year when Jermichael Finley went down, Crabtree was huge part of the offense. Crabtree didn’t necessarily make big catches, but was a big time blocker for Aaron Rodgers and the running game.

8. Graham Harrell, QB-

Whether or not the Packer keep three quarterbacks, Harrell definitely deserves a spot on this team. Harrell has looked sharp all preseason, and looked more comfortable in the pocket.

Against Cleveland, Harrell went 11 for 22 for 100 yards, and against Arizona, went 7 for 9 for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Harrell should at least be given a spot on the practice squad.

9. Pat Lee, CB-

Lee has grown since he came in the league four seasons ago. Lee had a decent season last season, and contributed with a tackle in the Super Bowl.

This preseason, Lee has made his case to stay on the team. Lee had four tackles against Cleveland, and only one against Arizona.

10. Chastin West, WR-

With a ton of wide receivers, the Packers cannot keep many. West has certainly proved that he remains on this team. West caught a impressive 97 yard touchdown from Matt Flynn against Arizona. On that touchdown, West showed off his breakaway speed from defenders. West had five receptions for 134 yards against Arizona.

These next two preseason games are huge for these ten player as they try to show the Packers coaching staff why they deserve a spot on the team.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 12: Mark Ingram # 28 of the New Orleans Saints runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during their pre season game at Louisiana Superdome on August 12, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sea

 Mark Ingram, Saints looked great in his preseason debut.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The NFL preseason is off, and the rookies are ready to show coaches, scouts, and general managers why they were drafted, and signed. Some rookies are off to faster starts than most, and are have coaches eyes on how they might contribute to the 2011 regular season.

Which of the rookies shined the most during Week One of preseason?

Well, here are ten rookies who showed promise:

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Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, and guided Alabama to the 2009 BCS title, had a more quiet 2010 season, and his draft stock dropped a little. Ingram was the first running back chosen in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Last weekend, Ingram got to take the NFL field for the first time. It may be the preseason, but Ingram left his mark. Ingram showed off his power by breaking tackles in the win against the 49ers the same way he did in the SEC while at Alabama.

Ingram scored his first touchdown against the 49ers, where he bounced a defender, and spun to score. Ingram carried the ball six times for 23 yards.

Ingram will be one of many Saints running backs this season. The Saints also have Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles. We have to wonder how Sean Payton will use the power that Ingram brings to the field.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

Cobb showed Packer fans the explosiveness he had at Kentucky.

Randall Cobb was a second round draft pick out of Kentucky for the Green Bay Packers. Cobb fits the Packers perfectly. Cobb has a mix of explosive speed, good hands, and the ability to make yards after the catch.

Coaches in Green Bay are drooling over Cobb’s skill set and talent. Perhaps just what the Packers need since they had Desmond Howard in the 1990s.

Saturday against Cleveland, Coach McCarthy got to see firsthand Cobb at his finest. Cobb caught three passes for 60 yards, one of which was for 28 yards. Cobb also returned two kickoffs for 58 yards.

Cobb has gotten the playbook down well for missing the offseason due to the lockout, and is mentally in the right football mind.

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots

Stevan Ridley, a running back out of LSU made his mark for the New England Patriots last Thursday night. The Patriots filled with running backs, are always looking for that back who can provide a bang, and Ridley did just that. Shane Vereen was injured and Ridley stepped in and made the most of it.

Ridley, the third round pick, scored three touchdowns against the Jaguars. Two on the ground and one in the air. Ridley rushed for 64 yards on 16 carries. Ridley caught seven passes for 47 yards.

One of his touchdowns, Ridley had quick feet and scored from one yard out. Ridley, may be projected to be third down back, and Belichick said he played hard against the Jaguars.

Ridley is only 5’11” and 225 pounds, but can produce contact runs, and the Patriots¬†definitely¬†got the most out of him in their first preseason game.

Dwayne Harris, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Dwayne Harris, wide receiver out of East Carolina, went out big in his preseason debut for the Cowboys against the Broncos. The sixth round draft pick caught five passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, one of which that set up the winning two point conversion.

Tony Romo may have a new secret weapon to throw to when Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten are covered.

Harris’ biggest catch came early in the fourth quarter that was an¬†initial¬†five yard catch, but turned it into a 76 yard touchdown. Jason Garrett was happy.

Darryl Gamble, ILB, San Diego Chargers

Darryl Gamble, ILB out of Georgia, turned heads for the San Diego Chargers in their opening preseason game.

Gamble was an undrafted free agent and had six tackles, two for a loss, and one for a sack in the Chargers loss to the Seahawks. Gamble was also hurt in the game.

The NFLFootballNow.com blog couldn’t have summed it up any better. Gamble could have a¬†similar¬†impact like Frank Zombo had on the Packers last year

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and first overall draft pick, played for the Carolina Panthers in their Week One preseason game Saturday, and helped lead the Panthers to the win.

Newton went 8 for 19 in the game passing for 134 yards. Newton had zero touchdowns or interceptions.

Newton has been wowing at Panthers training camp, or that’s the way head coach Ron Rivera addressed Newton. Newton’s running ability has gave him a second threat to use against opposing defenses.

Today, the Panthers told ESPN.com that Newton is still No.2 on the depth chart to Jimmy Clausen. Newton is competing against Clausen, and Derek Anderson.

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders

Head coach Hue Jackson said Denarius Moore, “wowed,” in practice dominating practice, and quarterback Jason Campbell described him as another Jacoby Ford. Moore is a fifth round draft pick out of Tennessee.

Moore is a shorter receiver at six foot, and 195 pounds for NFL receivers but has the speed to get past cornerbacks.

Moore caught three passes for 37 yards in Oakland‘s first preseason game. Moore averaged 12.3 yards a catch.

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker may not be the starting quarterback come September, but the future holds brightly for this kid. Locker, drafted eight overall by Tennessee, came in the game as a the backup to Matt Hasselbeck against the Vikings.

Locker connected on seven of ten passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. Locker’s touchdown pass was a 45 yard toss to Yamon Figurs.

Locker will get to learn from the veteran Hasselbeck, who has gone to the Super Bowl in his career as a NFL quarterback.

Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills

Marcell Dareus, the third overall draft pick by the Buffalo Bills, was described as a “man among beasts,” by radio host¬†Joe Buscaglia of Buffalo.

Dareus has a great work ethic, and the Bills are hoping he and Shawne Merriman can revamp a defense that struggled a year ago.

Dareus had a solid first preseason game, recording a sack.

Lance Kendricks, TE, St. Louis Rams

Lance Kendricks, a second round draft pick out of Wisconsin was brought in to be a huge target for the up and coming Sam Bradford. Kendricks was just that in his first preseason game.

Kendricks had five receptions for 47 yards, and a touchdown. The touchdown was a six yard pass from Bradford. Kendricks was targeted seven times, and picked up 9.4 yards a catch.

The NFC West is rather weak, and the Rams almost made the playoffs last season after going 1-15 the previous season.

The Rams went out and got new targets for Bradford to strengthen the receiving game.

 

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates scoring a fourth quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers  during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Rob Carr/G

 The Green Bay Packers are favorites once again in 2011. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers got hot at the end of last season, and entered the playoffs as a sixth seed, and won every game to their Super Bowl victory on the road. Momentum was one of the keys to their franchises’ fourth Super Bowl title. This year, the
team is back and poised to repeat their season from a year ago.

The Green Bay Packers managed to win the Super Bowl win fifteen players on injured reserve last year. Nick Barnett, Morgan Burnett, Jermichael Finely, Ryan Grant, Brad Jones, Mike Neal, Brady Poppinga, and Mark
Tauscher were a few they didn’t have during their playoff run to a title in Dallas.

This year, however, will Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles, Nick Barnett, who signed with the Bills, Daryn Colledge, who signed with the Cardinals, Mark Tauscher, and Brady Poppinga got released. These are some big losses, but the team is
still deep with plenty of talent and potential.

On offense, under center is Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is poised to lead this team back to the promised land.

On the offensive line, at center will be Scott Wells, who is a proven veteran. Chad Clifton, who is 35 year old, will line up at left tackle. Josh Sitton, who is highly underrated, and has been great in Green and Gold, will line up at left guard once again. Bryan Bulaga, a second year player, had a great rookie campaign, as he stepped in when Tauscher was hurt, will be the right tackle. Right guard is the biggest the question mark right now. T.J. Lang, will get reps there, and 2011 first round draft pick Derek Sherrod has been as well during Training Camp. Sherrod is being groomed to take over for Clifton. Marshall Newhouse is also impressing at right guard at Training Camp.

In the backfield, it’s crowded. Ryan Grant returns from injury, James Starks is coming off a great postseason, in which he had 315 yards, a touchdown, and no fumbles. Starks added some weight this offseason, but McCarthy think Starks will be just as explosive. Then, there’s third round draft pick Alex Green out of Hawaii. Don’t forget about John Kuhn, famous for, “KUHHHHHNNNN,” chants. Kuhn is a third down and goalline back that is the Packers secret weapon.

The wide receivers are stacked again. Greg Jennings put the team on his back last season as the number one receiver and a great Super Bowl with two touchdowns. Donald Driver is getting old, but man can he run, get open. Just
remember the 49ers game last season. James Jones was resigned to a three year contract. Jones is fast, but drops a few balls now and then. Jordy Nelson is coming off a Super Bowl performance for the ages. Could of been the MVP with a 140 yards and touchdown. Don’t forget Randall Cobb, the second round pick, who is crazy fast, and great athlete. Expect Shaky Smithson to see some time, he has been tearing it up at Training Camp.

The tight ends are as deep as ever. Jermichael Finley, Rodgers’ favorite target before he got injured last year, is back and ready. Did anyone see the video where he caught two balls at once at Training Camp? Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree filled in nicely for Finley when he got injured. The team lost Donald Lee, but has a great athlete, D.J. Williams, a steal in the draft, coming
in.

The Packers defense was tremendous last season. It was led by cornerback Charles Woodson, linebacker Clay Matthews, and Cullen Jenkins. This year will be a little different, but expect the same hard hitting, pass
deflecting, ball hawking defensive playmakers.

The defensive line is definitely the biggest question mark going into the season. Losing Cullen Jenkins is huge, but Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson will look to forget the loss of Jenkins. Big guys in the middle, Ryan Pickett and B.J. “The Freezer, ” Raji are poised to wreak havoc on quarterbacks and stop the run. Raji had a huge postseason, most notably against the Bears in the NFC Championship game.

The linebackers are a huge position in Dom Capers 3-4 scheme. Clay Matthews wreaks havoc on the outside, with Desmond Bishop, and A.J. Hawk in the middle making tackle after tackle, and the occasional sack and interception. The biggest question might be, who is going to line up outside on the other side opposite Matthews? Will it be Frank Zombo or Brad Jones be that guy? Both have plenty of promise, and can handle the task. Zombo had a huge sack in the Super Bowl.

In the secondary, the Packers are abundant with talent. The cornerbacks are one of the best in the NFL. Charles Woodson returns, as does Tramon Williams, who made a name for himself in the postseason last year. Williams’ two interceptions in the first half against Atlanta, and the second was for a touchdown swung the momentum in the Packers favor. Williams’ also had an interception that clinched the Super Bowl for the Packers. Don’t forget about second year player, Sam Shields either now. Shields’ interception against the Bears in the NFC Championship game off Caleb Hanie clinched the Packers ticket
to Dallas.

The safeties are led by Nick Collins. A beast that makes huge tackles, and intercepts huge passes. Just remember his first quarter pick for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Morgan Burnett returns for the Packers from injury, and he started 2010 as the starter. Jarrett Bush, Pat Lee, and Charlie Peprah also are huge contributors in the secondary.

On special teams, the Packers have struggled in recent years. Mason Crosby has missed kicks he wasn’t supposed to, the punting game struggled to pin teams back in their own territory, the special teams struggled with tackling and giving up huge kick and punt returns, and not getting anything out of their own kick and punt returns. Well, the tide may have shifted now.

One of the biggest free agency acquisitions the Packers made was resigning kicker Mason Crosby. Crosby and punter Tim Masthay had great seasons a year ago.Both will only get better, and more confident after last year.

In the return game, a young man named Randall Cobb is welcomed to the Packers. Cobb, a second round draft pick, is versatile, athletic, and dynamic. Cobb has electric speed, has breakaway moves that will be huge. Cobb will most likely return kicks. Look for Jordy Nelson to return some kicks and punts, as he did last year. Undrafted free agent Shaky Smithson has been impressing with his speed at Packer training camp, and looks to get looks in the return game as well.

I have to admit when Brett Favre left the Green Bay Packers, I didn’t know what to say. The Packers had a young team, but TedThompson and Mike McCarthy had a plan to develop them into a Super Bowl winning team. I couldn’t be more happier today.

Take McCarthy’s job. It is tough. McCarthy had to deal with injuries last year, the suspension of Johnny Jolly, and the task of maintaining a championship caliber team.

The chemistry that is between Rodgers and McCarthy reminds me of when Favre was with Mike Holmgren back in the day. McCarthy can make those questionable play calls, but heck every coach does.

McCarthy knows how to discipline a team, and make the locker room player friendly. Just take last year. Fifteen season ending injuries, and Rodgers’ two concussions were prime examples. McCarthy was without Rodgers’ against New England, and nearly beat the Patriots with Matt Flynn. This was no doubt a turning point for the Packers season. It made the players believers out of themselves, that they can overcome anything and win.

Green Bay has the perfect fit at head coach. Mike McCarthy is here to stay.

Aaron Rodgers is hands down the most important player to the Packers. Rodgers’ broke out last year with a huge year despite losing his favorite target in Jermichael Finley. Rodgers’ can spread the field, vertically and horizontally. Undoubtedly, an elite quarterback in the NFL. Rodgers’ arm is accurate, can throw the deep ball, short routes, screen passes, and anything that McCarthy calls from the playbook. Rodgers’ also is great at picking up audibles at the line of scrimmage.

Rodgers’ 2010 stats were: 3,922 passing yards, 28 to 11 interceptions, completed 65.7% of his passes, and a 101.2 passer rating. rating. Rodgers’ postseason stats were even better. Rodgers had 1, 094 passing yards, nine touchdowns to two interceptions, completed 68.2% of his passes, and had a 109.8 passer rating.

Don’t forget about Rodgers’ legs either. Rodgers’ is mobile, moves around the pocket, and can hurry down the field for big yardage.Rodgers’ had 356 rushing yards last season, averaged 5.6 yards a carry, and scored four touchdowns. Only lost one fumble.

One thing Rodgers’ must learn is slide feet first, not head first. It will only be for Rodgers’ benefit and health.