Football is here. The first training camp practice of the 2010 season gets underway at 2 p.m. Lambeau time at Ray Nitschke Field. The Packers 5K starts at 10 a.m. This evening it’s Movie Night at Lambeau Field with a showing of Diary of a Wimpy Kid at 7:30 p.m. and fireworks to follow …
It doesn’t appear as if cornerback Al Harris, safety Atari Bigby or running back James Starks will begin practicing today. “The Green Bay Packers will open training camp Saturday afternoon with half of their preferred starting secondary on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list,” writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. The Packers are erring on the side of caution with all of them. They want to make absolutely sure they’re healthy before they practice, because once they practice, they’re no longer eligible for the regular season PUP list, in which they would be inactive for the first six weeks of the season and they don’t count toward the 53-man roster. Once they practice, they’re either on the 53-man roster or it’s season-ending injured reserve.
Harris’ agent, Jack Bechta, says his client will be ready by preseason week 3. “Seeing that Al Harris is the bearer of this news, one has to wonder exactly how sugar coated that information is,” writes Alex Tallitsch of Cheesehead TV’s Packers Lounge. “Either way, it might save Harris from the PUP list which is a start in the right direction.” Now the question is, will he play in the Week 3 preseason game or will he just be ready to practice by then?
Head coach Mike McCarthy expressed an unanticipated amount of optimism that Harris will be ready during his season-opening press conference yesterday. “I would not be surprised,” McCarthy is quoted as saying by Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “If you would have asked me three or four weeks ago, I would have probably said no. But the report I was given today by (team physician) Dr. Pat McKenzie, he’s made a lot of progress.” It may be a case a lot like Nick Barnett last year where he was ready for the regular season but basically was put on a snap count and not allowed to play at the end of games.
Bigby’s ankle injury is a little curious seeing as it was originally injured two years ago. “I’m concerned,” McCarthy is quoted as saying by Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press. “Everybody’s concerned. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Atari. He’s had the ankle injury, and that’s something that’s bothered him in the past. Hopefully we can get the answer for that and he can get out there and get ready to go.” Bigby’s ankle apparently bothered him during the team’s conditioning test.
First-round draft choice Bryan Bulaga signed his contract, which means every player will be into camp on time before practice begins. “The team signed its first-round pick, tackle Bryan Bulaga of Iowa, on Friday to a deal reportedly worth $14.75 million over five years. ESPN reported that it contained $8.76 million in guaranteed money,” writes Demovsky. And as Demovsky notes, it may be the last time the Packers pay out money as big as this to a first-pick seeing as it’s likely a new rookie salary scale will be put in place with the next collective bargaining agreement.
To sign both Bulaga and Bigby, the Packers had to make some room. “The Packers are at 80 players after releasing rookie free agent linebacker John Russell and being informed that rookie free agent nose tackle Aleric Mullins has decided to quit football,” reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mullins’ decision was certainly curious, but nobody’s probably going to pry into his private life to find out why.
The words “Super Bowl” crossed McCarthy’s lips at his press conference on Friday. “I have every intention and belief that we have the capability of winning the Super Bowl,” McCarthy is quoted as saying by Silverstein. “Every decision that we make toward our football team, toward our program, toward our environment is always trying to improve our football team.” McCarthy said this may be the best team he’s ever coaches on paper but acknowledged that doesn’t mean much.
Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal takes McCarthy’s words a step further. “For McCarthy’s Packers, there is no debate about what the next step is. It’s the Super Bowl. Anything short of that will be a failure,” writes Oates. I personally wouldn’t feel that way, but that’s just me.
A certain quarterback for division rival Minnesota was mentioned in McCarthy’s press conference notes Max Ginsberg of Purple Pants, Green Jersey. “When asked about Favre and the Vikings, McCarthy planted his tongue firmly in cheek and answered, ‘We feel blessed we get to play the Vikings twice a year. It’s a great rivalry. They are real good team. We know where they are on schedule,’” writes Ginsberg.
The linebackers are taken a look at Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel. “[Defensive coordinator Dom] Capers is hopeful Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar, who were much more effective blitzers than A.J. Hawk a year ago, and even Desmond Bishop can raise some havoc in fire-zone packages,” writes McGinn. “But when Capers employs just a standard four-man rush, he’s got to replace Kampman, whose 25 1/2 pressures in nine games ranked second among linebackers to Matthews’ 45 1/2 in 17 games.” McGinn also notes that Adalius Thomas is still available as a free agent as are a couple other linebackers.
Special teams are previewed by Pete Dougherty of Press-Gazette who gives fans something to watch for during practice. “[Tim] Masthay’s greatest shortcoming is get-off time, where he takes about 1.5 seconds from catching to striking the ball, about one-quarter of a second slower than the ideal 1.25-second get-off time,” writes Dougherty.
A few position battles on offense are considered by Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette. “Good friends Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz will conduct a knock-down, drag-’em-out fight at left guard, while a three-man scuffle involving Korey Hall, John Kuhn and Quinn Johnson will ensue at fullback,” writes Vandermause.
Ol’ Bag of Donuts takes a glass half empty approach to Justin Harrell. “It’s always just a matter of time before the back flares up and he’s heading to the I.R.,” writes Chris Lempesis. “Taking what essentially amounts to a flyer on Harrell makes sense with Johnny Jolly in the fold. But with Jolly done for the year, the team is looking thin at the position heading into camp. Thompson and McCarthy could gamble on Harrell staying healthy and playing well – again, the talent is there if he’s healthy – but by doing so, they could miss out on snagging a more reliable option, either via roster cuts or the trade route.”
A trade for Marshawn Lynch is proposed by Andy Hayes of packergeeks. “Once in the fold in GB, I think Lynch would shape up attitude-wise because I think [Aaron] Rodgers already commands that kind of respect from the players around him,” writes Hayes.
Scott Emerich of WXOW-TV in LaCrosse has five questions heading into camp.
C.D. Angeli of Tundra Vision considers the role of bloggers in covering a team.
Railbird endorsed video: WFRV-TV in Green Bay has video of McCarthy’s press conference …