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CheeseheadTV Chat: James Starks and the Packers Offensive Line

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CheeseheadTV Chat: James Starks and the Packers Offensive Line

Chat transcript from Friday's chat (8/10) with Zach Kruse at

Luc: What does the cornerback competition look like after last night's game?

Zach Kruse: Luc, good question. Davon House clearly took a big step in becoming the team's starter opposite Tramon Williams. He blanketed a third down throw on the Chargers' first series and was aggressive in the run game. There's still a lot of preseason left, but I'd say he's the front-runner to start. His shoulder injury is something to be followed closely in the coming days, however. Could be a set back if there's anything torn in the shoulder.


FITZCORE1252: Anything new on Bishop or House?

Zach Kruse: In terms of "new," not really. House tweeted that he was going in to get his shoulder looked at this afternoon. But I doubt we get a real update on either guy before Saturday, when McCarthy speaks with the media again. Packers are off Friday.


Professor Snuffles: Advanced metrics suggest Starks is a replacement level back at best. Further, camp reports from McGinn and Silverstein suggest that Starks has had a lackluster camp and may have even regressed some as a receiver. I know RB isn't the most important position for a team like GB, but please tell me I can be hopeful for Green/Saine getting more of an opportunity to steal snaps from Starks.

Zach Kruse: Starks has certainly been underwhelming so far in camp. Thursday's performance—drop, fumble—was just a transfer over from what we've seen in camp. I still think he's going to be the team's starting running back until Alex Green gets his wet. But if these mental lapses continue, especially with ball security stuff, I see no reason why Green and Brandon Saine couldn't steal a bunch of carries. By no means does Starks have a monopoly on the running back position in Green Bay.


Brent: Any chance we see Grant back in the fold?

Zach Kruse: I highly, highly doubt it. The team was obviously fine in moving on with the guys on the roster now. I don't see why one poor preseason game would necessitate bringing back a guy the staff gave up on.


bbcjgst: How concerned should we be about the LT position?

Zach Kruse: I'd put the concern level at about a 3 or 4 on a 10-point scale. Marshall Newhouse only has a concussion, so he's going to be back. There's confidence in him. And eventually, Derek Sherrod will be healthy enough to contribute something. But if there's ever a time when Herb Taylor is your starting left tackle in a regular season game, then you worry. Taylor can't play. He's a backup, at the very best.


Mr. Tickles: Now that Bishop is hurt, is there even less of a chance Hawk will be replaced at linebacker?

Zach Kruse: You'd certainly have to think so. D.J. Smith obviously fills in for Bishop while he's out, how ever long that may be. I think Hawk sees the field a lot more now than what the original plan was coming into 2012. For better or worse, there's not really much for options.


fipp: how do you see the safety position shaking out after this game?

Zach Kruse: The young safeties will want to forget about Thursday. M.D. Jennings got all turned around on Gates' touchdown down the seam, and it wasn't even that great of move. That can't happen.

Zach Kruse: To answer your question, though, I think Jennings remains the starter when Woodson is playing in the slot. McMillian's role is probably going to be focused on special teams in Year 1.


Ryan C: What's a good site for football metrics? Like a FanGraphs of football?

Zach Kruse: Good question. I'm not even sure, really. But Football Outsiders has a bunch of good statistical stuff and formulas they use to come up with efficiencies. Might want to check that out. Pro Football Focus is jam packed with numbers, too.


bbcjgst: What players surprised you with their play last night (either good or bad)?

Zach Kruse: House stuck out, but he's been making splashes all camp, so I wasn't completely surprised. Same with Dezman Moses. Taylor was awful, but he hasn't played a meaningful snap in the NFL in years. Thought Jennings would be more sound, too.

In terms of surprises, I'll go with Starks (bad) and Perry (good). The Packers put a lot of faith in him by not pursuing Ryan Grant, and he stunk up the joint last night. It's just one preseason game, but those kind of mental mistakes don't cut it. Perry was active last night, and the coaches gave him a big work load, which I liked. He's learning on the job. I didn't see any big problems in space either. Always like to see production too, and he got his first sack early on. All positive signs.


vik: PackerUpdate just suggested putting Bush in as the second safety since he cant cover. Didn't they try that once before and do you think Bush could upgrade the safety position?

Zach Kruse: Not a terrible idea, and Michael is right: Bush is a much better football player when things are happening in front of him. He can't find the ball in the air to save his life. But they've already tried this Bush-at-safety experiment, and nothing ever really came of it. Not sure it's the answer. I'd rather keep giving the young guys a chance to grow into the position.


vik: And thanks for doing the chat.

Zach Kruse: You're welcome, vik. Thanks for stopping by.


wgbeethree: Levine played well last night. Always in the right position and tackled. With the safety position so wide open any chance we see him with the ones some going forward?

Zach Kruse: Who knows? But Levine has been pretty quiet in camp. And to be perfectly honest, the interception was more a result of Erik Walden's pressure up front than Levine making the right play. He did play well Thursday before going out with a back issue. Anything can happen over the next couple of weeks so I won't rule it out. That safety spot is up for grabs.


Kyle: Let's get down to it, Zach. Will you be in attendance for Throwback Weekend at the end of September?

Zach Kruse: Kyle, I'm currently in the process of trying to make that work. I have a lot of people I need to meet.


lebowski: Zach, bigger issue with our running game, blocking or lack of starting caliber back? Just ridiculous that year after year, pretty much since the days of Ahman, we are terrible at it.

Zach Kruse: Last night it was a little of both. And the second-string offensive line is a really poor unit right now. There's no other way to put it. Another factor to consider is the mindset of these guys. The Packers throw it 60 percent of the time....this is a line built to protect the passer, not run it 40-50 times. I wouldn't expect the Packers to be a strong running team anytime in the near future.


coloradopackerfan: i am hearing mixed opinions on Harrell's performance. I never thought Flynn was particularly good in a majority of his off season games. His preformance last night seemed pretty good all things considered. Why is Harrell catching so much heat?

Zach Kruse: People tend to forget that Matt Flynn's preseason rating was always in the 70-80 range as the backup. Part of that is that the Packers second string offensive line has been a ragtag group for sometime. You watch some of the preseason games in 2011, and Flynn is getting rocked every other drop back. Same goes for Harrell now. Hard to be the best quarterback you can be when the protection isn't there. In all honesty, I'm not worried about Harrell or the backup position, unlike many others.


vik: Surprise player to be cut now that it is not Hawk? I say Starks with Tyler from USC making it over him.

Zach Kruse: It would take a collapse of epic proportions for Starks to get cut. He's making this team. And Marc Tyler ran hard last night, gave good effort, but his ceiling is so low. No explosiveness in his game. Just a plodder.

Zach Kruse: My surprise cut? That's a tough one. There's going to be difficult cuts, but I'm not sure there's a surprise one I can pinpoint right now. I'll say one thing, however: I don't think the Packers are keeping more than five receivers at this point. Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel haven't exactly lit the world on fire after all the offseason hype.


Zach Kruse: And that will do it, ladies and gents. Thanks for stopping by and chatting with me. We'll try and do this every week until (hopefully) the Super Bowl.

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

PackRat's picture

O-line major disappointment and the decision not to at least give Buluga snaps at LT may come back to haunt Pack. Even when Newhouse comes back, he was no ANCHOR.

Defensive backfield a tease. Tramon looks back, Davon looks like a real gamer but if Woodson or Burnett have an issue, MD Jennings and Anthony Levine are definitely not the answer. How about giving Shields a shot at free safety where his speed my help. BTW, Bush was in danger of making me forget about my dislike for Peprah in coverage and didn't even play well on special teams.

Rocky70's picture

" I’d put the concern level at about a 3 or 4 on a 10-point scale. " (ref LT position)

Newhouse gave up 11.5 sacks in season 2011. He's presently concussed. Sherrod has no meaningful playing time at the NFL level & he's yet to practice in 2012 because of injury. (headed to PUP)

Try an 8 or 9 out of ten. AR won't last the season without good to excellent play from the LT. EDS, Lang & possibly Bulaga may very well play a role in this dilemma if Newhouse and/or Sherrod can't be counted on. ----- It's a HUGE problem.

ben's picture

exactly. Rodgers blindside may be the biggest weakness on the team, even with everyone healthy. Ted's making a big mistake that could cost him his franchise player. Protect Rodgers at all costs.

Fish/Crane's picture

The number of commercials is beyond ridiculous

retiredgrampa's picture

I would NOT be surprised if the big switch happened before game #1, i.e. Bulaga to LT, Lang to RT, and EDS to LG. Protection for Aaron is #1 or our season ends. Newhouse gave up 11 sacks last year but I'm sure many more pressures. Those pressures are almost as bad since Aaron is forced to run right. Broken plays are disasters waiting to happen.

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