All right, one week of camp in the books, let's dive into your questions. It's probably misguided. Crosby is at an age (35 in September) when kickers can decline, and he didn't have a great season last year. So nothing's a given with him, especially because he has a $3.2M salary this year. But he has a very good track record, so even though he hasn't kicked yet in camp because of a calf injury, the smart money is still very much on him to be the Packers' kick, at least at this point.
Maybe Valdes-Scantling. Hard to tell with Burks because there's no tackling camp. Maybe when they start playing games it will end up being Alexander, who had a pretty good rookie year. But I'd say Valdes-Scantling right now. Not that he's caught a ton of passes in camp -- a lot of throws with the No. 1 offense have been to either Adams or checkdowns -- but that falling-extended 33-yard touchdown catch he made Wednesday in two-minute against Alexander was a really good play, one he wouldn't have made last year.
The only area where I've seen more penalties has been on some of the occasional hurry-up plays, where the offense breaks the huddle, runs to the line and tries to snap the ball quickly to catch the D off balance. There have been several false starts on those. It's a new thing, they never did that under McCarthy, so it probably takes some practice. One of the lineman told me those snaps are often on the first sound from the QB, and it's easy to jump early if the defense makes a call at the line when they've lined up. Sounds like it takes concentration and some practice.
Take these with a grain of salt, I can't watch every player on every snap, so it's just an overall take on an early sample of practices. Gary has flashed ability, has shown both some power and speed as a pass rusher. Not like he's been dominating or anything, nothing like that, but in one-on-ones and a few plays in team he's shown some ability that at least indicates whey they took him when they did. Where it goes from here, we'll see. Savage started practicing only Wednesday, and I don't think he did any team drills, so nothing to go on there. Elgton Jenkins has played both guards and center with the No. 2 O-line. He's looked OK. He's gotten beat on some one-on-ones, he's also a few times shown an ability to kind of recover and stay stout after being knocked a little off balance at the snap of one-on-ones. We'll have to wait for the games to see if he has any chance to push Lane Taylor for a starting job at guard. I'm a little hesitant to even guess on whether he has much chance, early guess is maybe not, but that's a soft maybe not, those things can change quickly if a guy gets acclimated after a week or two of camp. Sternbergers has made a few catches but really hasn't jumped out at all. Kingsley Keke has had a few decent pass rushes, will be curious to see him in the preseason. Hollman is giving up a lot of completions but his coverage has been decent on a lot of them, and he's working fairly high in the CB rotation -- they held King out of two-minute yesterday, and Hollman was there in his place. I personally can't tell much about RBs until there's tackling in games, so can't tell you much about Williams other than with Jones and Jamaal Williams out, D Williams has been working as the first RB with the No. 1 offense. I really haven't watched Ty Summers at all. He's been working at ILB with the No. 3 D.
I don't know, I have to say I kinda like their receiving corps. I realize there aren't any names after Adams, but I think there's some legit talent to work with. Maybe it won't blossom, but I Valdes-Scantling looks to me like he has a lot of ability, and St. Brown has some great traits (size, length, decent speed) to work with too. Allison is having a solid start to camp, and Rodgers trusts him. I'm still not sure if J'Mon Moore catches the ball well enough to pan out. Trevor Davis has made an occasional play too -- Wednesday he caught a short slant from Boyle on a hot read that probably would have been a big play. And Kumerow probably has as many targets as anybody after Adams, he seems to get open on underneath stuff and catches the ball.
All those things. A lot of it comes from observing camp practices and how guys conduct themselves in the locker room. Daniels was a big presence in the locker room. But you also pick up on those things talking to players and other people who work for the team, because they see guys around the clock, not just when the locker room is open to reporters.
Josh Jackson hasn't practiced yet, injured his foot before camp started. He would have been a good candidate to make a big jump, but nothing to go on at this point.
He very well might still be disgruntled, but he hasn't said anything inflammatory publicly -- I'm not even sure he's been in the locker room when media has been in there. Don't know what he's been like in meetings and such. I'd think he still has a pretty decent shot at making the roster but it's definitely not a given or a great bet, not yet anyway. He played well in special-teams punt and KO coverage last year, so he has that going for him. But Raven Greene is clearly ahead of him as the No. 3 safety and as an inside linebacker on obvious passing nickel downs. Jones' best chance of getting on the field is that latter position, he's better the closer to the line of scrimmage he plays.
Following up on the last question, this is tough to predict. If he doesn't move up the depth chart (right now I guess you'd have to say he's the No. 4 safety) and the Packers think he's going to be a problem in the locker room, then he easily could get cut at the end of camp. But if he makes some plays in the preseason game, especially from ILB in the nickel, it could help his chances a lot. As far as a trade, I just don't know if they could get anything for him. Teams that would have any interest very well might assume that if the Packers are willing to trade him they're probably going to cut him, so they'll just wait rather than give up a draft pick. A lot could depend on whether the Packers think he'll be an issue in the locker room. If they don't, then his special teams play will help him a fair amount, as well as his two years of NFL experience.
That's a question I personal go back-and-forth on. With all the money they spend on Rodgers, it's asking a lot to spend even $3M on a veteran backup QB. On the other hand, Rodgers has missed his share of games, so the Packers really need a decent backup to give them a chance to win and stay in the playoff race if he's out a few weeks. With all the money they spent on their four free agents, it would have been really tough to sign a decent veteran backup -- how many decent backups are there in the league, anyway? Two? Three? Not many. I am surprised they didn't draft a QB in the later rounds and do think they should go back to the Wolf approach where he drafted a QB almost every year (maybe two out of every three years, or three out of four) just to make sure they have candidates in the pipeline. I think it was at the owners meetings Gutekunst said he doesn't feel strongly about having a veteran backup QB, so that suggests he wants to get in a developmental pattern. As for this year, Kizer and Boyle started camp slowly but have been better the last couple days. The new offense (and going against a defense in the second year in its scheme) probably were factors there. But are they good enough to keep the team competitive if Rodgers misses some time? That I don't know. Kizer wasn't last year, but he does look a little improved in camp this year. Going into camp I'd put my money on Boyle winning the No. 2 job -- he's the better pure thrower of the two -- but I really don't have a strong answer for your question. Put it this way: It's still very much an open question whether they'll be good enough at the No. 2. The preseason will be very, very important in that regard.
That's fair to say. McCray has taken a few snaps with the No. 1 offense through six practices -- not many, but a few. Pretty sure Jenkins hasn't taken any. It is early, though.
They guys I'd look to make some impact are Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith. And maybe Savage? After the draft, the handful of scouts around the league that I talked to really liked Savage. So maybe he comes in and makes an impact right off the bat. And you definitely have to put Alexander in there too. He's a pretty talented cover guy, plenty of speed and an ability to play the ball in the air. He also has shown a really strong competitive streak. In fact, I probably should have listed him first, him and Za'Darius Smith.
You bring up some important pints, but first things first. If I remember right I didn't call it a prudent move. I think I said that it was very much a gray-area decision, and that it hurt their pass-rushing depth (which I was a strength before they cut him), and that they could end up regretting it if they have many injury issues on the DL. But I also said I very much understand why they did it -- the better a year early than year late thing, injury and age concerns -- he missed eight games the last two seasons, didn't practice in the offseason because of I think it was a foot injury, and he's 30 -- and the money factor. That $8.5M or whatever they saved by cutting him helps not just this year's cap but future caps because of the ability to roll over leftover cap room to the next season. With all the money they spent in free agency this year and on Rodgers, that cap room in the next couple years could be important. A person I know well who's worked in the league a long time has told me that in recent years he's more convinced than ever that a huge part of being successful in the NFL is -- and this is an impersonal way to put it, but it's true -- is being willing to constantly move on from guys, even good players. Now, if I absolutely had to make the call on Daniels, I'd have probably kept him. But I can't say my opinion on that is very strong, and I get why Gutekunst did it. You're right, they don't get the compensatory pick for Daniels, but they do get the cap room that could carry over to future caps for several years. So that was the tradeoff. I do think they made the right call with Sitton, and nothing that happened after they cut him argues otherwise.
Yeah, from what I've heard that when Daniels wanted to go to a team that plays the Packers twice if it offered a good contract, which Detroit did.
That's one of the big questions that will make the next couple seasons so interesting. He's healthy and he has a new offense that's cutting edge and that he seems excited about. So there are reasons to think he could have a big bounce-back season. But it's not a given. Injuries can take a toll mentally and physically, and he's had his share. And then there's the question of whether there will be some growing pains, even for a veteran QB like him, playing in a new system.
Yeah, he's been at practice pretty much every day so far, for most of practice as far as I remember. Harlan stopped by practice a lot in camp but not as much as Murphy. I haven't heard that Murphy is micromanaging or getting involved in personnel decisions or anything like that. Not saying definitively he doesn't ever get involved, but if he does I haven't heard about it.
He's in a walking boot, from what I've he's on his feet for the entire practice. He stands right behind the offense during team drills. He was adamant that he's going to be on the sidelines for the preseason opener. No one asked but I'm assuming he'll be in the boot for at least a couple or few more weeks.
There's just no way to make a guess worth hearing on that. Some guys have injury issues early in the careers and then are a lot healthier later. But King's durability is a big issue. He's really skinny for an NFL player, and so far his body hasn't held up to the rigors of the NFL. Tramon Williams has always had a slight built but he's never had injury problems his entire career, and he's still in the league at 36. But King isn't Williams, we know that already.
That first question is a good one. Because if neither Kizer nor Boyle plays well enough in the preseason games, the Packers very well might try to find a QB LaFleur has worked with previously to be the No. 2. I can only say that the backup QBs struggled the first three days but have been better since.
I'm still wondering about why he didn't have more sacks in college. He is a really big guy, and he has flashed some ability. It's also not like he's dominated or just jumped off the field or anything like that. But there have been occasional flashes, not necessarily of brilliant play, but of a guy who has an uncommon combination of size and quickness. I'm also kind of assuming he'll set a good edge in the run game. I don't know if the way Michigan used him hurt his stats, or if something was missing as a finisher, or what was up with his low sack totals.
My guess is his playing time will gradually increase as the season goes on. The Daniels trade probably will get Gary on the field more as a rusher, either inside or outside. Right now I'd say he's probably the No. 4 OLB, behind the two Smiths and Fackrell. If I absolutely had to guess now, I'd think he'll play, I don't know, 10 or 15 snaps in early games and increase from there. His ceiling could be fairly high, he really does have a fairly rare size-explosiveness combination, at least as far as athletic testing goes. But I also wonder if that shoulder injury is going to be an issue. It sounds like he'll probably need surgery on it next offseason, and he very well might aggravate it during the season. That could be a big limiting factor.