This one goes out to BJ Raji:
"First of all, how ya doin' you are a really big dude and all but listen, you have to put in a better performance than you did last Sunday night. Man, a lot of people are depending on your ability to collapse the middle of the pocket and you didn't show a lot of that. I know it is the preseason but you're a competitor who is in his second year and they just moved Ryan Pickett to put you where you're at, it's time to represent!
No one was more excited about you being moved to nose (where you belong) than me. I thought you would be the unsung hero of this year's successful team and I still do but you made me wonder a little bit. OK, OK I gotta have faith, I know. But this ain't no George Michael song, this is the NFL and when it's throwdown time we all want to see you throw down. You're speed and agility along with your size and low center of gravity make you a rare commodity in the NFL and especially important to a 3-4 defense that is predicated upon the NT. Unfortunately, Sunday night, being rare just meant you hadn't been cooked enough...you were still bleeding.
Again, nobody cares (much) about the scores...we want to see players play. I KNOW you are going to show up next week and wreak some havoc. Well, even if you don't I am sure you will when the games are for real...right? I believe you will, in part because I believe in your talent, and in part because...if I don't you might fly through this computer and wring my pencil neck!"
Well training camp is here and here are a few variables I think will be very important, though little spoken/written about in the success of the team.
1. Recovery of injured players - And I am not just talking about whether Al Harris will be 100 percent. One of the most important players coming back from injury is Justin Harrell. With the loss of Johnny Jolly, Harrell has to get on the field.
2. Kick return position - Who will return the ball for the Pack on kickoffs this season? Sam Shields has all the speed, but has struggled fielding the ball. Will Blackmon has a great feel for the position, excellent vision and the "knack" for kick returns but has been injured constantly. Field position starts with the kickoff and an improvement here would make our high powered offense even more dangerous.
3. Will Mason Crosby be consistent - OK, this one has been talked about a lot and while I definitely think the Packers made a mistake by not bringing in competition, Mason Crosby with his strong leg in the windy Frozen Tundra is the Packers best (now only) bet. When the toughest competition comes along, the Field Goal Unit will be a factor in the Packers success. Will Mason Crosby be consistent? A lot depends on the Field Goal Unit as a whole. The successful execution of a field goal includes a lot of moving parts and though it is no excuse, Mason Crosby does not have the benefit of having a thirteen year specialist long snapper and the same holder for years on end (ie. Longwell) and this makes a big difference in his percentage because the Packers do not kick that many field goals. Look for the blocking to improve this season and the snapper/holder combination to improve. Then, it is time for Crosby to put up or shut up.
4. Special teams coaching - The only non-veteran coach at a major position is Slocum and he has some developing to do with his players. Will he be able to get the job done? Remains to be seen in my estimation. This will be very important to the Packers' success as well.
Well those are a few things thai come to mind and it will be fun to watch the development of a still young but somewhat more mature, hungry, angry Packer team. Enjoy the journey folks and Go Pack!
OK, I didn't get the first round pick right, but then again, who did? I will say a couple of things for myself:
- I was dead set on getting an OT early (not RB or even LB, maybe corner) and so my pick was Charles Brown because I thought he would be the best OT available at the time. The very thought that Bulaga would be there would have tripped an automatic PICK button. Just never expected that...that's what makes the draft so much fun!
- I was afraid that CJ Spiller would fall to us and become the flash in TT's eye that took us away from what is really important. Then he would have come to GB and been a flash in the pan like he will be at Buffalo.
- Most people expect Bulaga NOT to start but they are wrong. With Clifton at LT, we may see him hold his own while Bulaga learns the ropes but Bulaga WILL start...the minute Cliffy's ankle gives way. Count on it!
- While we're waiting for him to start (which could be for several games to half a season) Bulaga will still be a better player at other positions along the line or perhaps fill in for Tausch as well if necessary