Packers Daily Links: Harris, Bigby To Return To Practice

Cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby are eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list this week.

Reinforcements are on the way for the Green Bay Packers. "Veteran cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, who have spent the season’s first six weeks on the physically unable to perform list, will begin practicing on Wednesday, and it’s possible both players could be back in action for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. The trade for Anthony Smith could have been an indication that Bigby is further away from game action than Harris, but that speculation should be answered later this week.

The other member of the PUP list, rookie running back James Starks, will begin practicing as well, but he's more of an unknown quantity. "If he’s able to stay healthy, Starks might be at least as valuable as third halfback Dimitri Nance, who has played only sparingly since being signed to replace Grant," writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. So at least Starks has that going for him. Nance has basically only had a role on special teams and hasn't had a carry since the Buffalo when he had two.

If Clay Matthews doesn't return this week, the Packers may have some depth issues at outside linebacker. "[Brady] Poppinga will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this week to determine the extent of the injury he suffered against Miami," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The injury is to same knee in which he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the end of the 2005 season." If Matthews returns, the Packers should be in decent enough shape with Brad Jones and Frank Zombo, however.

The trade deadline is today and the one rumor that has gained some steam is the one for Cowboys running back Marion Barber. "Barber would bring some needed toughness and grit to this offense," writes Adam Somers of Ol' Bag of Donuts. "He also is great in third and short conversions, which has been a struggle this season for the Packers. As much as I love what John Kuhn has done this year, Barber is a far superior talent and would command more respect from defenses." I wouldn't rule out a trade entirely. Because the Cowboys have only one win and depth at running back, they may be inclined to make a move. The deadline is at 3 p.m. Central so it won't be long to find out if the Packers have made any moves.

Speaking of trades, newly acquired safety Anthony Smith was already in Green Bay by Monday. "Smith, who was scheduled to make his third consecutive start at safety for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night, instead was at Lambeau Field on Monday afternoon getting reacquainted with some of his old friends," writes Bill Huber of Packer Report. "Smith was acquired for a conditional seventh-round draft pick shortly after Sunday’s overtime loss against Miami." Smith declined to say he had any expectations for his time in Green Bay and just said he would do whatever is asked of him.

Punter Tim Masthay is treading water at the moment. "The Packers coach publicly put punter Tim Masthay on notice Monday after what [Mike] McCarthy felt was yet another inconsistent performance from the first-year punter," writes Jason Wilde. "While Masthay’s job isn’t in danger in advance of Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, McCarthy made it clear that he’ll have to punt better or he’ll be out of a job." Masthay needs consistency. He followed up two punts inside the 20 in the first half of Sunday's game with two more short ones in the fourth quarter and overtime. He has yet to show a booming punt during a game.

The Packers offense and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in particular are under scrutiny for not being able to pull out close games. "He is 0-5 in overtime games and 1-11 in games that have been decided by four points or fewer in his 39 starts, including 0-2 and 1-3, respectively, this season," writes Tom Silverstein. "His only playoff appearance ended with his fumble being returned for a touchdown in overtime." Third downs are of special concern, but it's tough to put a finger on what exactly is bothering this team.

McCarthy continued to be baffled on Monday by the critical illegal formation penalty against linebacker Robert Francois. "The rule was implemented to protect the long snapper, but part of McCarthy’s frustration was the timing of the call," writes Kareem Copeland of the Press-Gazette. "The game had gone to a television timeout and the Packers’ offense had begun to take the field before a flag came out. Referee Ed Hochuli said it takes three officials to make the call — one to record the player over center and two along the line of scrimmage to determine whether he was within a yard of the ball. Hochuli said those two factors caused the delay." McCarthy has a legitimate gripe, but there's nothing that can be done about it now.

The third down problems are touched upon by Cliff Christl and Eric Baranczyk for the Press-Gazette. "The past two weeks, the Packers have been 5-for-26 on third-down conversions," according to the article. "What teams are doing is playing man under with two safeties over the top. It’s Cover 2 with man underneath. That takes away the deep ball, but it’s also tough to get five, six yards underneath against man coverage. It’s a lot easier to get those yards against a straight zone scheme." Getting four receivers deep will help soften up the defense, but that also requires the offensive line protect long enough and Rodgers have enough patience to get them deep.

C.D. Angeli of Tundra Vision revives the call to end the zone blocking scheme in Green Bay. "The time has come to go back to the kind of running game we had with Ahman Green...a straight-ahead power game that allows offensive linemen to worry more about pushing guys backwards instead of where they're going to lay their chop block," writes Angeli.

Rob Demovsky discusses how to replace Jermichael Finley in the offense now that he's officially done for the season.

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Comments (37)

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Tony Wilson's picture

October 19, 2010 at 07:39 am

We won't get Barber. I don't see it being even a remote possibility. He's not fast, and hasn't shown anything in Dallas this year. I wouldn't hate TT if he did, I just don't think he's going to.

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Tarynfor 12's picture

October 19, 2010 at 07:59 am

My question has to do with the Offense section.

Let's recap our WR & TE stock and please explain why with DD,GJ,JJ,JN,BS,AQ,TC and DL being touted as the best group in the league(also before JF),even with a two safety and man under,we can't get a consistant dink dunk(WCO) movement.Just how many guys are playing on defense against us.

Here's what I see;
JJ only likes side line runs so he won't get hit.(a big punk)
DD drops balls and is showing his age(even with his new knees)can't shake them off.
Nelson doesn't get enough game play at WR
Jennings cannot be the only WR to go middle and deep(makes him next IR guy)
Quarless takes his eyes off the ball too quick(even with that 23 yd catch he almost lost it)
Crabtree might get lucky once in awhile
DL shouldn't even be here
BS should do KR's so he looks like he does something
Where the hell is Havner,you know the guy that catches the ball on the goal for TD's.Oh ,we cut him because he could muti-task and perform.

Although I have not been a BJ fan,why aren't we at least showing a thought of screens with him or better yet,actually doing them.

With this OFFENSIVE WEAPONRY we are SUPPOSE to have what is UNCOVERABLE.Why is there a constant BLANKET on IT.

Ok,this should stir some from their pillow crying.

P.S. Does it seem Rodgers pocket is shrinking right off the snap?

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lars's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

Yes, the pocket is shrinking and with it Rodgers has his own "shrinkage" issues. H elooks bored out there.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 08:00 am

Forget a RB trade - the Packers need an OLB.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 19, 2010 at 08:54 am

I can't think of any quality OLBs that are up for trade.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 08:58 am

Forget quality. I'm shooting for better than Francois and Simpkins.

I brought it up in another thread, but Kamerion Wimbley of the Raiders could be a nice get. 27 years old, nice size (6'4", 250)and had 11 sacks as a rookie for the Browns in 2006 (6.5 last year).
Traded to the Raiders for a 3rd round pick this off-season.

Starting alongside Matthews should give him plenty of opportunities.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm

You're right, I'm wrong.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 01:22 pm

Not that it'll ever happen, of course.

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davyjones's picture

October 19, 2010 at 08:54 am

Bobby Carpenter from Miami? Horrible on ST, but started at OLB in place of Channing Crowder...27 yrs old, former 1st round pick. can he be worse than Robert Francios?

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:19 am

Packer problems are not on defense, even with the addition of these guys, A-rod and company have to start producing, especially A-rod.

IMO A-rod at this point in his career he is the perfect QB when you have all your weapons in place, and all phases of your offense are working properly. He is smart and knows how to use the players around him.

However he can not create plays on his own like BF, Steve Young, and D. McNabb to name a few. Once that system around A-rod starts to fail, he can not pick up the slack to make something happen.

He is still a young QB, he may develop into a QB that can take a game over and pull out a win, but at this point he has not been able to do that.

TT and MM made a mistake when Grant went down, with a QB that can create on his own you can get by with a Brandon Jackson, A-rod can not (he can not make something out of nothing), especially with the offensive line the Packers have.

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jay's picture

October 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Disagree. Was the offense completely "set-up" last year? Did you forget 51 sacks? How did Arodg put up the numbers he did last year?

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Cole's picture

October 19, 2010 at 12:19 pm

A-Rod can produce but McCarthey needs to help him get in a rhythm. The play calling is the problem. We saw the same play from the offense last year for the first eight games until the play calling changed.

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lebowski's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:21 am

I was getting savaged on the live blog this week for saying Masthay sucks. Since the game I've read in several places that he is not cutting it, a head case, inconsistent, and in danger of losing his job. Guess others do agree with me.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:22 am

I find it hard to believe that people were savaging you for that opinion. haha.

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lebowski's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:51 am

Incredible, huh?:)

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:32 am

We will see no difference in Caper's game plan with Harris and Bigby until we get a healthy defensive line and enough LBs to go around.

Capers will play a conservative game plan, keeping the score within reason, as to not to lose the game for the Packers.

Bottom line MM and the offense are in a funk and the defense is searching for warm bodies just to fill out a roaster.

Its great that Al and Bigby are back, they are just playing the wrong positions.

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JJK's picture

October 19, 2010 at 09:52 am

There's all this ragging on the o-line but arod's pocket presence is awful and a lot of the blame should be placed there. Its rare to see him step up in the pocket. Watch the way manning or even rivers step up into the pocket and deliver the ball downfield. You don't see it from Rodgers. On the deeper routes Rodgers bails on the pocket. This prevents them from stretching the D.

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:09 am

You are right, thats a major flaw in A-rod's game.

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lebowski's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

Shocking, to say the least, how poor he's looked. He has a David Carr-like fear of pressure it seems from getting knocked around last year.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:19 am

So, assuming Harris and Bigby are ready this week, who gets cut to make room?

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davyjones's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

Francios & Montgomery?

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:30 am

Montgomery for sure, good call. I forgot about him.

I can't see them cutting Francois for a DB, though. They're already so thin at LB.

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Tarynfor 12's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

Nance,Peprah,Montgomery if all three are activated this week,but don't expect it.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:47 am

bush/bush/quinn are options in my book.

can starks be put on the practice squad?

i would hate to have them drop nance to put starks on and then have starks get hurt again.

I'm not saying nance is any good but if they let him fly
then they'd have to go find someone completely new again.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:52 am

Nance has done literally nothing since coming to Green Bay. I would not be worried/saddened if they cut him.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

me neither.
but at least he should have some understanding of the system whereas you'd be starting from scratch with a new guy... again.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

I honestly don't think it matters much. Nance vs. starting from scratch? Whatever, really. haha

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

The player I would like to see play this week, seeing that he is healthy enough to play on the defensive line is Lang. He should start at RT.

If Clifton goes down, do you inset Lang at LT or do you move Bulaga?

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RickyBobby's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

I've got a theory on why the passing game might be struggling.
(besides the crappy line and the scared qb).

I think they need a speed guy to stretch defenses. Jennings is the only guy who can get behind a defense but you can't have him just running flys all game. he's their best playmaker. gotta get him the ball underneath (higher percentage plays).

they're 3 and 4 guys are too much like their 1 and 2 guys.

they need a guy like meachum. he doesn't need to even be that good. just a burner who can get behind people.

i think this would open up the underneath stuff that we've all been clamoring for.

just a thought.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm

If they picked up a speed guy he could also double as a return guy (normally).

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JoePackersNYC's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:57 am

Sure, Rodgers has been getting the happy feet in the pocket, and his presence is questionable, but I think the main problem here is the play-calling of MM. With so many injuries, he's still trying to establish similar game plans and making adjustments with the personnel he has.

He says the playbook is deep, and Rodgers has control of the offense, but I think the passing needs to get dumbed down.

I'm all for the Agnelli Plan: A power running game (or at least an attempt of such) with a simple West Coast passing provision added.

If done correctly, we should be in good shape.

We should and can be playing better, of course, but we're not getting blown out. For a young team, these lossses should be learning experiences. They need to move forward and learn that you need to finnish games, plain and simple.

Can't wait for Transplants tonight!

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JoePackersNYC's picture

October 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

Aplogies C.D. for the butchering of your last name!

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thepretzelhead's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

All in all I think our problems are probably about the same as everyone else's in the NFL. Inconsistency, injuries, and scrambling to find bodies. This is the reality of today's NFL.

Come November........

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fhornplayer83's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

So has the comparison between Masthay and Bryan this season been quietly dropped since Bryan was waived last week by Tampa Bay?

Perhaps the Packers made the right move of the two after all. If not, they now have the chance to renege.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

It should be pointed out that while Bryan has/had the worst average in the league (37.4), he has a better net than Masthay - 34.3 to 33.4

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I think it's telling that more than one team was checking out Bryan and Masthay at the end of August.

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Starry Barts's picture

October 19, 2010 at 11:49 am

1-11 in close games. I hadn't thought of it like that... Oy.

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