On the Packers calendar today is another one of Charles Woodson’s TwentyFour wine label tasting events, this time in Bay Harbor, Mich. Today’s affair is a fundraiser for the CS Mott Children Hospital and Von Voightlander Womens Hospital.
At one point this offseason the Packers showed interest in free agent running back Brian Westbrook. The former Eagle still hasn’t chosen a final destination, but one report says that division rival Minnesota could be a landing spot. “Westbrook indicated to [workout partner Visanthe] Shiancoe he’d have ‘no problem’ playing for the Vikings, and there’s certainly seems to be a fit for his skills as a receiver and in pass protection in the role previously held by Chester Taylor,” writes Frank Tadych of NFL.com. The Packers probably shouldn’t be counted out entirely until Westbrook officially makes up his mind.
The Packers attended the pro day workout of former BYU running back Harvey Unga in advance of the NFL’s July 15 supplemental draft, according to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune. We here take a more in-depth look at Unga from a Packers perspective, but they probably don’t figure to be in the running. “The Packers have five running backs currently under contract and three more fullbacks that compare in size to Unga, so it’s unlikely they’d have much interest in drafting him,” I wrote yesterday.
There’s been no progress in the investigation that has cornerback Brandon Underwood accused of sexual assault, but Paul Srubas of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reminds us that it’s now been more than a month since the incident occurred. “The case is extraordinarily complicated, and investigators and prosecutors need to take time to make sure they get it right, said Kevin Rathburn, a former prosecutor with the Brown County District Attorney’s Office and currently a criminal justice instructor and municipal court judge,” writes Srubas. The article goes onto say that it’s not unusual for this investigation to be taking this long.
Hoping that Tramon Williams isn’t used on kick returns this year is Michael Rodney of Packer Update. “Is it really a good idea to expose one of your best corners – and an undersized one at that – to perhaps the most dangerous job in all of professional sports?” asks Rodney. “The list of players who have been injured doing that job for the Packers in recent years is quite lengthy (Allen Rossum, Najeh Davenport, Will Blackmon and Jordy Nelson come to mind immediately). So if a legitimate kick returner isn’t on the current roster, general manager Ted Thompson needs to go out and find one before the season opener at Philadelphia on Sept. 12.” The evidence he presents is compelling, but I don’t see the Packers going outside the organization to find a return man before the start of the season unless they have to give up little or nothing in return, such as the trade of a player who isn’t going to make the 53-man roster or the pickup of a final roster cutdown casualty on another team.
Jermichael Finley is held up as a prime example of teams being able to create mismatches and stretch the field by former Packer Matt Bowen of the National Football Post. “This is an issue from a defensive perspective when we use a player such as the Packers’ Finley (a special talent at the position),” writes Bowen. “Green Bay as an offense will use a wide variety of alignments—much like we see from New England—to position players in those favorable matchups. With Finley, the Packers can draw those situations inside and outside of the numbers–and they are tough to stop.” I don’t think he’ll get much of an argument from Packers fans.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is put to the 26-27-60% test by C.D. Angeli of Tundra Vision to determine whether a college quarterback is going to have success in the NFL. It’s an intriguing theory that says the QB must score at least a 26 on the Wonderlic, must have at least 27 career college starts and must have a career completion percentage of 60% or higher. “According to the Packers website, Rodgers started 22 games for Cal, which is about five short of the 27 needed for [John P.] Lopez’s formula,” writes Angeli. “However, if you include the eleven games he started for Butte Junior College as a freshman, he would be up to 33.”
A look back at the failure of the Joe Johnson free agent signing is taken by former Packers vice president Andrew Brandt over at the National Football Post. “I had to get Frank Winters to take a pay cut just to enter our deal into the system and stay under the Cap,” writes Brandt. The point of Brandt’s article is to prove why free agency in the NFL is flawed, but it’s tidbits like the Winters info that make an interesting read for Packers fans.
“Were the Packers overconfident last year?” is a question pondered by Monty McMahon of Total Packers. Whether they were or weren’t, some advice is offered. “The Packers veterans, along with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, have to be vocal leaders in order to keep the team’s younger players and their egos in line,” writes McMahon. “The coaching staff has to keep the team focused on football and block out the hype.”
While we’re on the topic of Total Packers, McMahon wrote a response to CheeseheadTV’s subjective Top 15 Packers blogs rankings (of which Total Packers ranked 13th). I’m not sure McMahon’s purpose of his post other than to bemoan a ranking he feels should be higher. He ranks the Top 15 blogs in terms of traffic, which didn’t seem to prove anything. In terms of traffic alone, AOL’s Fanhouse Packers website ranked No. 3 overall, which anyone who reads Packers blogs can agree, isn’t indicative of that site’s quality. Fanhouse gets a lot of traffic because of its affiliation with AOL, and that’s about it. That site is neither frequently updated nor provides much insightful writing. By comparison, Jason Wilde’s blog ranks ninth in terms of traffic, and Wilde is one of the best Packers writers on the beat. Furthermore, McMahon calls Packers coverage watered down, which I find inaccurate. And then this: “The problem I’ve always had with most Packers blogs is they try to be news reporters. If I want to read Packers news, I’ll go to the Journal Sentinel or the Press Gazette.” Outside of this website and maybe Acme Packing Company, I largely disagree.
In advance of the Packers Hall of Fame induction ceremony later this month, Packer Report profiles tight end Mark Chmura. “It’s a tremendous honor,” said Chmura. “I was shocked by the call back in December but was excited to hear the news. Looking back at the history of the franchise and all of the great players through the years, it’s exciting to think that I will be joining them. It’s special for me but will be even more special for my kids to see my plaque hanging amongst some of the biggest legends.” A full-length version of the article can be found in the Packer Report print publication.
New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith said he wants Greg Jennings-type money. CheeseheadTV’s own Brian McIntyre looks at what it is Smith wants. “Jennings, a 2006 second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers, was headed into the final year of his rookie contract before he signed a three-year contact extension last summer,” writes McIntyre. “Jennings’ contract included $26.35 million dollars in ‘new money’, including a $11.25 million dollar signing bonus, along with a $5 million dollar fully guaranteed base salary in 2009.”
Life After Favre author Phil Hanrahan did a Q&A with Wally Pingel of Pocket Doppler, in which they discussed why the Packers’ biggest rivalry shifted from the Bears to the Vikings. “I totally agree, but don’t really have a good answer,” writes Hanrahan. “The Vikings have seemed easier to hate in recent years. The Humpty Dump, Ragnar and his motorcycle, that damn horn, the goofy Viking ship, the coach, etc. Also, maybe it feels like more of a state-v-state rivalry. It feels like Wisconsin against Minnesota. A Big Ten matchup. When we play the Bears, I don’t really feel like we’re battling the whole state of Illinois. And it’s kind of hard to hate Lovie Smith. As a Packers fan, that is. Maybe if I was a Bears fan, I’d feel differently.” Hanrahan is exactly right. It’s hard to quantify, but the dynamic has certainly changed. Another contributing factor would be former Packers like Favre, Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson and Darren Sharper playing for the Vikings over the past decade.
Lombardi-era legends Jerry Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston and Doug Hart appeared at the Madison Mallards summer-collegiate league baseball game last evening on behalf of Buckets of Hunger. “Buckets for Hunger raises money for food pantries through sporting events and appearances by athletic standouts,” according to Madison.com. The group signed autographs and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Bryan Bulaga, Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett are listed by Bryan Dietzler of Bleacher Report as being among 10 rookies who will have an impact in the NFC North this season.
Meat Packers Union suggests you visit Matt Bowen’s Inside the Playbook.
Alex Tallitsch of Packers Lounge introduced himself to readers yesterday.
Don’t forget to take a listen to last night’s inaugural Cheesehead Radio broadcast!