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OTA Surpises Big And Small

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OTA Surpises Big And Small

Some interesting things from this afternoon's practice. (Remember, it's May. This time last year, Jeremy Thompson was an all star. So take it for what it's worth, which is not much)

  • Brady Poppinga starts at LOLB ahead of Brad Jones

This has got to be the most surprising thing to come out of the first OTA session open to the public. Again, it's May so this doesn't mean much at all. But it will be interesting to hear McCarthy's explanation here. Is this an indication that the coaches aren't happy with Jones' work during the break? Are they simply deferring to the veteran? Like I said: Surprising.

  • B.J. Raji starts at NT, with Ryan Pickett at DE

Basically a flip of what they were doing last year, today saw the Packers kick Pickett out to RE and saw Raji manning the NT. This doesn't seem to be a huge surprise, given that this is what they drafted Raji for. But I wonder how Pickett feels about moving to end. I'm sure this must have been discussed when his new contract was negotiated. Regardless, the Packers have some serious beef up front in their base defense.

UPDATE: This is a permanent switch.

Both Raji and Pickett confirmed they have switched positions. Raji is now starting nose, Pickett at left end. It is permanent.

  • The starting offensive line is the same one that ended the year

With the drafting of Bryan Bulaga and Marshall Newhouse, a lot of people have been buzzing about how the Packers could upgrade their line this season. But for today, the same five guys who started in Arizona got the call with the first string. Clifton, Colledge, Wells, Sitton and Tauscher were your starting five, with the mild surprise perhaps being Daryn Colledge getting to start the OTAs defending his starting job rather than battling for it. A small distinction, to be sure, but distinction nonetheless.

  • Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac takes a special interest in Justin Harrell

The word is that Trgo spent the entire afternoon getting after Harrell, getting in his face and yelling at him all day. If, and that's a mountain of an if when it comes to Justin, Harrell can stay healthy, I'm very excited to see what Trgovac can get out of this kid.

  • Donald Lee will indeed need to play special teams to make this team

Lee was spotted on the kickoff coverage unit this afternoon. Earlier this year, when he indicated that Jermichael Finley would be the starting tight end, McCarthy was quoted saying that Lee would need to be open to expanding his role of  special teams. Seems McCarthy wasn't kidding.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bigfog's picture

Poppinga at left outside backer? Hoo boy :(

FITZCORE1252's picture

Threw up in my mouth a little bit. Who needs Jerry Hughes, when you've got the 'Swarmin' Mormon'. AHHH, it's early, I've got faith in Jones (please God...).

GBP 4 LIFE

Gary Shanahan's picture

Maybe his swarming is done best in a neighborhood near you!

PackerBacker58's picture

Yeah Brad Jones SHould be starting

TonyWilson's picture

I read that Collins got paid, too

packeraaron's picture

Tony - that was an old Tweet from Pete Dougherty. The GBPG simply had the feeds from all their guys. That was from a few months ago.

FITZCORE1252's picture

I was wondering what that old news was all about. A tad confusing for a minute.

Adaminengland's picture

All make sense in my mind, and yes, that includes Poppinga getting 1st reps. He is the so-called "proven" vet and so you give him first shot and hence that gives Jones more incentive to work hard to win the job. Don't get me wrong however, I would say it's Brad's job to win, not Brady's job to lose.

nerdmann's picture

The only thing Poppinga's proven is he can't get it done.

FITZCORE1252's picture

100% TRUE

Adaminengland's picture

Hence why I called him a "proven" vet, not a proven vet ;)

dgtalmn's picture

Interesting changes, but like you said, it is still early. I hope the Jones/Poppinga is just testing the waters.

PackersRS's picture

Big move, Raji at NT and Pickett at DE.

Guess the Packers want Raji to feel more confortable in there, and to have more pressure from the nose spot. And Pickett at DE, which he'll probably only play in the base package, means that he'll probably hold 2 guys in there, allowing a slimmer than the avreage OLB Jones to shoot more freely, and not be engulfed by the OL in running plays...

CSS's picture

I don't think it's a matter of comfort. Raji isn't just big, kid is athletic. He's capable of being so disruptive if he's healthy and in shape. Pickett did dirty work last year, but Raji has such sudden movement he can kill the interior. This is probably the most likely to stick.

Otherwise, veterans getting #1 reps is no surprise.

nypacker's picture

This is Capers defense meaning moving pieces everywhere. While their depth chart position is "permanent" I still expect Pickett and Raji to rotate positions over the course of the season.

Oppy's picture

This move will also save a lot of wear and tear on the veteran Pickett, as well.

Let the young, athletic, fresh Raji do what he was drafted to do- take the nose and absorb the pounding of constant double-teams that NT's in the 3-4 suffer, and let the rock-solid anchor that is Pickett set the edge where he is less likely to encounter 2 massive OL's, more likely a OT and a TE..

CSS's picture

Actually, I think it would be easier and less of a pounding for Pickett to seal the edge on running downs. He's not that mobile, can anchor against the run and will take less of a pounding at the end position. Raji is so quick latterally and so sudden up the field that he's the ideal guy when the move OUT of base and in a favorable down and distance scenario.

They will both rotate, but Raji adds another dimension and has such athletic ability for a guy his size. The MLB blitz packages will be scarier as well. Raji gets to a gap very quickly and the linebackers will have more space, better angles.

NickGBP's picture

Yep. Those ILB cross blitz were sometimes the most effective blitzes. Other times they completely failed. Would be interesting to look back on a few of them and see who was in at Nose and how they did on the play.

BubbaOne's picture

...and w/ teams passing more on 1st and 2nd downs Raji's inside pressure is there on every down, not just the sub pckg's.

nypacker's picture

I think the Pickett move to DE is a combination of wanting more out of Raji and trying to attain more gap control. It also explains the Mike Neal pick. On his scouting report it said that his greatest asset is to open up blitz lanes for the LBs to rush through.

Erdie's picture

RE: Poopinga they could be looking at what they have from him at the position, and if they don't like what they see then he may be gone sooner than later.

packeraaron's picture

He was the starter in Week One at that position last year. What more could they possibly need to see?

M orli's picture

I mean, depth is overrated, but the existence of a backup LOLB who is not a UDFA is in my mind not to hindering.

Erdie's picture

Depends on what he is paid this year. I think as long as his contract is reasonable they will keep him, but you never know, he may have gotten better after being in the system for a year.

aussiepacker's picture

They may be looking at him to see if he has improved and if not decide he's contract isn't worth it and this could be his last training camp as a packer. Maybe a trade for a draft pick?

cow42's picture

i thought kampman started at lolb week one last year.

misterj's picture

Yeah. But Pops was on the right. He was moved to the left after Matthews pretty much took the spot by force.

alex's picture

My thoughts exactly Erdie

dilligaff's picture

Was Hawk a starter at ILB?

Poppinga starting over Jones is significant from a coaching stand point, the play of Jones in that playoff game must have been poor enough to make the switch.

Erdie's picture

The Pickett/Raji switch will only matter when they are in a 3-4-4 alignment, and last year they spent most of the year in a 2-4-5. Will have to watch how much they use the 3-4-4 this year. What nobody seems to be talking about is Jolly, and where he fits into all of this. I imagine any injury to Raji and they will switch Pickett over to NT, and rotate Jolly in with Jenkins/Pickett. Hopefully Harrell can get on the field as well.

FITZCORE1252's picture

RE: BJ & Picket

Nothing earth shattering there. I know I was surprised last year when it was announced he would be playing DE in base sets. It was largely thought that he was drafted to be inserted as our (Casey)Hampton from day 1.

I think it's great. He's the future at the position... the future is now. There is so much dang BEEF on that line, no reason 3 can't 'occupy' 5 on most plays. Our linebackers are gonna thrive in year 2.

GBP 4 LIFE

FITZCORE1252's picture

Pickett... man I miss the edit feature, people like me need it!

FITZCORE1252's picture

Blackmon @ Satefy??? I like it.

http://blogs.greenbaypressgazette.com/blogs/gpg/insider/

GBP 4 LIFE

nerdmann's picture

I like it too. I like Blackmon, but I don't think he's good enough to be a CB. Might be an upgrade over Peprah. If he can stay healthy. Don't consider him to be much of a hitter. He's athletic, though. S might be a better spot for him.

Chuck's picture

Satefy? Fitzcore, you been drinkin'?

FITZCORE1252's picture

HAHA, unfortunately no, I had not been. Contrary to popular belief... the Fitz... is... HUMAN! 8-)

PackersRS's picture

You see what you've done, Chuck? You made THE FITZ talk in 3rd person!!!!

Shame on you!!!

And, you, fitz, go grab yourself a cold one!

FITZCORE1252's picture

LOL, RS. Will do. If my spelling is off today... I'll have an excuse!
8-)

cow42's picture

this team has tons of big dudes.

retiredgrampa's picture

I'm happy the coaches are giving the vets (Poppinga) first shot to see if they've improved. The cream will rise to ther top for sure. I'm estatic (as much as an old man can be) about Raji taking over at nose. The fact that he WANTS that thankless job shows that he IS a pro. (Compare him to Haynesworth, if you dare). Pickett enjoyed nose he says, but also as a consummate pro, he knows what's best for the team. He knows he wasn't moved because he couldn't handle it, but because the DL will be better for it. TT has built a team of REAL pros who just love the Packers. The fans return the feeling.

FITZCORE1252's picture

I agree with that from start to finish.

I don't think anybody 'wants' to see Brady starting opposite Clay week 1 (I think that would amount to an admission of failure by Ted), but I can see giving him a chance early. That way, WHEN it's clear Brady's not the-guy right away, they can move forward and prepare Brad to be 'the-guy' ASAP.

Couldn't agree with you more about Raji and Pickett. It's refreshing to read how excited BJ is about taking over the most thankless position in the 34 (I believe he will thrive). And Ryan is just a consummate pro, a real 'team 1st' guy... refreshing to say the least.

Well put Gramps

GBP 4 LIFE

nerdmann's picture

At least one of those undrafted free agent guys will be a player.

Oppy's picture

Don't get me wrong, Pickett is a class act, great guy..

but let's be real honest here- the fact he got paid with a long term deal in the off season goes a long, long way towards his amiable acceptance of his new role. :)

FITZCORE1252's picture

Sure it does Oppy. But, he could be an absolute whiny bitch about the switch like A-Haynesworth.

Oppy's picture

I don't think Pickett could ever be anything like Albert Haynesworth, and I mean that in a good way!

Ron LC's picture

I have a feeling the Raji/Pickett move has more to do with Jolly than anything else. Could it be they don't expect Jolly back?

PackersRS's picture

Isn't Neal and Wilson a more clear statement of that?

CSS's picture

Possibly. This theory goes one of two ways: Wilson and Neal were both value and had to be taken, or they were clearly replacements for Jolly this year or down the road. The only problem with this: if the Packers were sending a message and were eventually going to 'move' Jolly, why the hell tender him so high? Doesn't make sense.

Where this could come back to bite them: There's no way they can hide either Wynn (3-4 end) or Wilson (3-4 end) on the practice squad this year. There are sooooo many teams converting to the 3-4 that practice squad is not the place to hide your 'future' players. Last year everybody said, 'why 3 fullbacks'? I think once the 53 man roster is set in 10' we'll be saying, 'why so many DE's? Talent baby, talent....

FITZCORE1252's picture

"or they were clearly replacements for Jolly this year or down the road."

I still contend Jenkins will go before Jolly. As long as the legal troubles don't appear to be very... troubling.

BubbaOne's picture

CSS, agreed. I said in another posting DL will have the extra player(s)this year. If Neal, Wynn, Wilson, Talley, Toribio, and even Harrell show enough talent it's possible Jolly and/or Jenkins (contract years)could be traded esp w/ teams likely to overpay for 3-4 DE's.

CSS's picture

I think the market for 3-4 ends is heating up and some contracts are being inflated for the 3-4 ends as a byproduct of guys like Tyson Jackson and Tyson Aulalu (sp.) and their recent draft positions (creates a new floor/ceiling).

However, there's an established market where teams overpay for 4-3 ends, and folks, Jenkins is a 4-3 end. (screaming commences in 3..2..1)

coloradopackerfan's picture

Jenkins is a 4-3 DT I thought? A pass rushing DT, he isn't a 4-3 DE I don't think.

packeraaron's picture

He's done both.

PackersRS's picture

But he's been better as a 4-3 DE... I think he's our better 3-4 DE, when he's fresh. But with so much depth now, wouldn't mind trading him for an elite CB or OLB...

FITZCORE1252's picture

Could not agree more. Fact of the matter is, he or JJ are likely gone after this year. I know this, you know this, Ted knows this... we might as well get something for him now, EH? If his roster spot were to be vacated, we could def keep Neal and CJ on the 53 (I don't know if CJ would last on the PS).

Shit, the bayurzs would probably give us a future 1st rnd'r so Cullen could start opposite Pepp.?.?

GBP 4 LIFE

Chuck's picture

Overheard on Twitter:

Will Blackmon to Clay Matthews:

"remember today when ted t told us, "this weather is like cali weather". Mmm nope not quite lol."

Clay Matthews' reply:

"I was fooled for a sec... till the smell of pasture burned my nose!! lmao"

remember today when ted t told us, "this weather is like cali weather". Mmm nope not quite lol.

Chuck's picture

Maybe I'm the one who's been drinking ;)

Brady Augustine's picture

I think the move of Pickett to DE says more about what they expect from Johnny Jolly (jailtime) than anything else.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Disagree.

BJ was drafted @ #9 to play 'the nose'. I was initially surprised when it was announced he would be playing End in base. I think they did that to 'ease' him into the Pro's (with Pickett on the team, it wasn't necessary to throw BJ right into 'the fire').

This move is just letting the Big Fella get settled into the position he was drafted to dominate. Pickett did an admiral job, but I've seen glimpses that show BJ can just absolutely DESTRRRROY the pocket. That 'presence' up the middle could do wonders for the back-end.

Ryan will do great @ DE. A Pro's Pro all the way.

And Jolly will be on this team next year... book it!

GBP 4 LIFE

Wiscokid's picture

Admiral? He was in the Navy?

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