On the calendar today, the Packers hit the practice field at 10:45 a.m. Lambeau time this morning...
It's a foregone conclusion that cornerback Al Harris will not be ready in time for the season opener according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "Harris isn’t going to be ready for the regular-season opener at Philadelphia and might not be able to play the next few weeks, either, so the Green Bay Packers have to decide whether it’s worth putting him on the 53-man roster or leaving him on the physically unable to perform list to start the season," writes Demovsky. If Harris doesn't want to be placed on the PUP, he has to hit the practice field and soon. But based upon his comments yesterday, that doesn't seem like practicing is in his immediate future.
There's been a recent complication at the cornerback position, and who will play the nickel back role. "[The Packers] thought [Brandon] Underwood, a sixth-round pick in 2009, would be the guy, but he has made some questionable errors and is fighting a shoulder injury that might date to his freshman year in college," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He dropped out of the Indianapolis game Thursday, and the medical staff has not made a diagnosis." Even though Underwood has had some spotty play this preseason, he was still expected to make the 53-man roster and play a role this season. Now there's no clue what his future may hold.
Taking Underwood's job may be Sam Shields. "The undrafted rookie who opened training camp looking like a good practice-squad candidate not only is a lock to make the 53-man roster but also is a decent bet to be the Packers’ No. 3 cornerback in the regular-season opener against Philadelphia," writes Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette. There's no denying that Shields has looked the best among the group including Underwood and Pat Lee. Although he's rough, he knows how to break on the ball and is a candidate to grab some interceptions.
It's even possible that former second-round draft choice Pat Lee could be cut says Monty McMahon of Total Packers. "Lee opened camp as the dime back, but when you take into account the fact Shields played more with the No. 1 defense on Thursday and today’s practice, it’s clear Lee has been surpassed by Shields," writes McMahon. I don't see Lee getting cut, but stranger things have happened.
Tom Oates seems to be putting the cart ahead of the horse with his column on rookie outside linebacker Frank Zombo. "The Packers need big plays from their outside linebackers in Capers' Pittsburgh-style 3-4 defense," writes Oates. "For years, the Steelers have found pass-rushers in uncommon places — players from small schools, players from different positions, undersized players — and turned them loose in their blitz-oriented scheme.
"It seems some players are a natural for the position. Zombo could be just such a player." I agree wholeheartedly that Zombo has looked good, but is this the best column at this point in time? How about let's see the guy actually play in a regular season NFL game first (let alone play well), before saying he could be a solution to the Packers pass-rushing issues.
Reservations about Frank Zombo are echoed by Michael Rodney of Packer Update. "Zombo, who had 25.5 sacks as a defensive end in college, is a tough guy who goes all-out on every play," writes Rodney. "But he’s also a marginal athlete whose lack of lower body strength and explosiveness will almost certainly be exposed the more he plays against quality opposition. The feeling here is that the former Central Michigan standout will never be more than a No. 4 or 5 outside linebacker at this level." While I think Zombo could become more than a No. 4 or 5 outside linebacker, I just need a helluva lot more time to make that judgement.
Punter Tim Masthay seems to be climbing ahead of Chris Bryan in the punting competition. "The Packers’ punting hopeful backed that up with perhaps his best practice of the summer on Sunday and may have moved another step closer to winning the job," writes Demovsky. "During a lengthy punting period, his ball striking was nearly perfect, which showed in his distance, direction and hang time. On six punts in which he could swing away, Masthay averaged 59.8 yards and 4.62 seconds of hang time. Two punts from his 35-yard line went 65 yards and into the end zone for touchbacks but even taking 40 yards away from his gross yardage, he would have averaged 53.2 yards." I'm personally convinced Masthay has won the job not only for his punting ability, but also because of years of experience holding, can kick off, and can be an emergency place kicker. I wouldn't doubt if Chris Bryan is cut in one of the four roster moves the Packers must make by Tuesday.
Head coach Mike McCarthy took it upon himself to heap praise upon undrafted rookie offensive lineman Nick McDonald on Sunday. "A tackle for the [Grand Valley State] Lakers, McDonald has improved to the point where he might be a viable option to Jason Spitz and [Evan]Dietrich-Smith in the battle for an interior backup job," writes Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel. I wouldn't say that McDonald is a viable option this year, although he's giving it a punter's chance. McDonald is the type that would really benefit from some time on the practice squad, and he really needs to beef up.
The feel good story of Quinn Porter may be coming to an end. "Injury has derailed the long-shot bid of the undrafted rookie running back from Division II Stillman," writes Bill Huber of Packer Report. "With a knee sprain that McCarthy labeled as significant, the early sensation of training camp might find himself either out of a job or on injured reserve." The practice squad is looking to be about the best-case scenario at this juncture.
The story of recently released wide receiver Shawn Gore took a little bit of a strange turn with his coach in the Canadian Football League not appearing to show much interest. "Sometimes NFL teams are more interested in the unknown [CIS players from Canada] than the known [NCAA players who've been followed extensively by scouts]," B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono told the Vancouver Sun. Gore is reportedly still checking out his options among other NFL teams and UFL teams as well.
Worries about Will Blackmon are brought to light by Chris Lempesis of Ol' Bag of Donuts. "Anyone else starting to worry about Will Blackmon’s knee injury that still isn’t up to par?" asks Lempesis. "Anyone else thinking Jason Cherry could crack the roster as a return guy if he turns in another good showing Thursday?" Yes, the struggles by Blackmon coming back from injury are becoming increasingly troubling. And it's a long-shot on Chery, but that 75-yard punt return is nothing to scoff at.
The Green Bay Packers are hosting a blood drive today. "The Green Bay Packers are teaming up with the Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross for a blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday in the Lambeau Field parking lot, 1265 Lombardi Ave," according to the Press-Gazette.
Greg Bedard of the Journal Sentinel conducts a Q&A with Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders who has the Packers pegged for a 9-7 record this season.
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