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Packers Daily Links 8.30.10

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Packers Daily Links 8.30.10

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RockinRodgers's picture

I'm not too worried about much on this team, but cornerback is really starting to look thin. I wonder if we make a trade for someone.

afrenchpackersfan's picture

Too bad for Quinn Porter. I don't why but I like his toughness combined with his "strange" character (like the fact he was a cheerleader in college). Hope he will eventually have an impact in the Packers run play.

corey jenkins's picture

I think it's curious when I see guys like Zombo downgraded because they're "marginal athletes".. I mean, wow. I saw the guy get back in coverage and make tackles in the flat, chase down Manning, and he uses a combination of moves when rushing. The guy is an athlete.

corey jenkins's picture

But you're right Brian, we do need to see more. Too early to judge just yet.

Tommyboy's picture

I don't think any of the articles overstated anything about Zombo - just basically said he COULD be the guy. I'm excited to see him and will also be eager to see him in regular season action. To be honest, I'm not seeing the lack of athleticism. He certainly looks better than Kampman did.

WoodyG's picture

Zombo is a 'marginal athlete' ........ Somehow I have the feeling that anyone who makes an NFL 53-man roster is an athlete ...... After only 1 TC & 3 pre-season games, the writer has already decided Zombo's career path ........ "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.” ........

Even my 10-yr. old grandson doesn't jump to conclusions based on such a small body of evidence.

incognito_man's picture

Here are Zombo's measurables from his pro-day. Certainly has enough athleticism to play in the NFL:

"Central Michigan DE Frank Zombo ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 to 4.73 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.29 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.12 seconds at his Pro Day. He measured a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-2 broad jump and completed 23 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press."

lars's picture

Teddy Bruschi was considered a "marginal athlete" as well. The so-called experts dismiss Zombo because his measurables are exceeded by a very large heart and above average football intelligence. And, they don't know how to measure those things.

Brady Augustine's picture

Frank Zombo is a fantastic pickup and Oates in no way dubbed him the definitive answer to the Packers pass rushing woes...on the other hand, I question whether anyone who calls Zombo a "marginal athlete" is doing anything but studying combine stats. Pass rushing is as much an art as a skill and Zombo has shown that he knows the art. He is able to sort through the trash and make a play. He also knows how to use his leverage, which is more important than brute strength. If lower body strength was the measure of a pass rusher, then all the best pass rushers would be 800 lb squatters. The pass rush is an art and physically it has to do with quick-twitch muscles, leverage, and outsmarting the guy across from you. Sure there are times when a player has to just bull-rush and Zombo has taken tackles up under the chin and driven them back almost dumping them on their tails (which again is more about leverage)...this guy is a football player! Everyone is waiting to see how he develops, and he has already made his share of mistakes (overpursuit vs. Seahawks) but those are the mistakes of a player who has not made the team trying to make something happen and blowing his gap assignment. Zombo may be a steal and with the coaches we have now, could be a serious player down the road. We all just have to wait and see.

PackerAaron's picture

Fantastic posting Brady. Could not agree more.

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