One Week Down, One Player Down: Business As UsualPosted:Aug 2nd, 2014 1:22 am
We almost made it. We almost got through the first full week of the Packers training camp without losing a player to a season-ending injury. Almost. There has been no confirmation from the Packers at the time I write this, but it appears rookie WR and Badgers' fan favorite Jared Abbrederis is done for the season with a torn ACL.
Here we go again. We'd like to believe the team has absorbed more than its share of major injuries in recent years, but after one week our faith is already being tested. Immediately the Twitter trolls reminded me that he would have been a bit player at best on this year's roster, but they miss the bigger point. Now we're probably a couple of years away from seeing him at full strength and his development will happen at a snail's pace.
The truth is, he was battling to win the #5 receiver spot, behind Nelson, Cobb, Boykin and fellow rookie Davante Adams. He had a shot to win a returner job, but the team has other candidates who will get a shot to replace Cobb, most notably the now healthy DuJuan Harris.
It's a buzzkill that a wildly popular local kid who improbably made it big with the Badgers will have to get healthy and wait a long while to start his NFL career. Many of you were excited to see what he could bring to the team as a rookie. Big picture, the injury doesn't impact this year's team in a major way. Fellow rookie Corey Linsley's shoulder injury is also worth watching. Linsley faces an uphill battle to unseat JC Tretter at center, but it depletes the team of depth at the position, should his injury be serious.
What else did we learn from afar after the opening week of camp? Mike McCarthy wants to turn up the tempo on offense, knowing that his quarterback can take advantage of most defenses, if he can control the tempo. If he can keep his running back on the field on third downs, it will help in a major way. So Eddie Lacy will get plenty of work as a receiver and blitz protector this preseason. By all accounts Lacy looks ready to pick up where he left off and emerge as a top five back.
The tight end job will be a dogfight, between Quarless, Bostick and Rodgers. I get the feeling the team sees Quarless as a second teamer and hopes one of the other two flashes, because they both have big play capabilities. Rodgers appears further along than most expected. It will be very interesting to see if he gets time with #12 in the second and third preseason games. I think he and Bostick will battle for the job tooth and nail over the next few weeks.
Defensively, the headline of the week was the cast of characters who weren't in uniform. The list looks like it's straight out of Groundhog Day: Perry, Neal, Worthy, Guiton (OK, Guiton wasn't on the team last year, but as maybe the second most significant free agent signing it's disappointing to see him sidelined already). Perry and Neal returned later in the week and both find themselves fighting for playing time behind Matthews and Peppers. Worthy, who injured his back while working out on his own, will be lucky to make the team. The team's patience has to be wearing thin.
I'm excited to see Raji, Daniels and Jones up front. This unit's performance will have the biggest impact on how much Capers' defense improves this season. Raji is motivated in a contract year and comfortable back at the nose--he had a very strong first week. Daniels appears to want the Richard Sherman role (vocal, nasty leader). If he can earn it on the field, more power to him. Jones needs to show his #1 pick chops, after an ankle injury slowed him last season.
The secondary looks to be much more competitive, with the return of Casey Hayward and the eternal promise of Davon House, both of whom had strong opening weeks. Micah Hyde has the early lead over Ha Ha Clinton Dix, opposite Morgan Burnett at safety. The preseason games will sort out if the depth chart changes. A healthy Sean Richardson is also playing himself into the mix. The Pack may actually have some depth at safety this year.
The biggest news of the week was the extension for GM Ted Thompson. McCarthy's will follow soon, as the Packers' front office/head coach will continue its uncommon stability through the end of the decade. Teams with that kind of stability are always in the mix: witness the Pats, Ravens and Steelers.
Looking forward to our first look at the team next weekend. For now, we'll follow another week of practice, collectively holding our breath, hoping the team can get through it without hearing that dreaded three letter word: ACL.