Green Bay Packers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide
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The Green Bay Packers' 2010 season ended in Super Bowl glory by bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown.
But then in 2011, the Packers' season ended in disappointment after a loss to the New York Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Not even a 15-1 regular season record could ease the pain of a playoff loss. Nothing less than a Super Bowl championship is acceptable in Green Bay. That's just the way it is.
The Packers are about to embark on their 2012 journey looking for redemption and it starts with training camp.
What follows is a comprehensive training camp guide complete with rosters, schedules, predictions, the best position battles and so much more.
Enjoy and happy camping!
The Biggest Question Marks
Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk chase down Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith.
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Here's a couple of the most pressing questions about the Green Bay Packers as they enter training camp.
Can the offense maintain its high level of play?
The Packers obviously had a poor defense last season that gave up the most passing yards in the history of the NFL. As a result, the offense had to carry the team on its back. It was a burden the offense was more than capable of bearing. Despite the poor defense, the Packers put up a 15-1 record. Led by league MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Packers had the third-ranked offense in the NFL putting up 405.1 yards per game. They also ranked first in the NFL with 35.0 points per game.
All the key pieces are back from last season, so there's no reason the Packers can't continue their high level of production. The question is, how high? Can they maintain their position as a top three offense in NFL or will they regress back toward the mean?
Can the defense get back to its Super Bowl form?
During the Packers' 2010 Super Bowl season, they had one of the best defenses in the entire NFL, ranking second by giving up only 15.0 points per game. It was a steep drop for the Packers in 2011. They were in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed, but they ranked dead last in yards allowed by allowing 411.6 per game.
Two key pieces of the Packers' 2010 defense were gone in 2011: defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins to free agency and safety Nick Collins to injury. The Packers are still looking for capable replacements. Will they be able to find them, and will they be good enough to improve the entire Packers defense?
Can the special teams continue its upward trend?
The Packers haven't had very good special teams units under coordinator Shawn Slocum. Only a Super Bowl victory might have saved his job in 2010, but in 2011, the Packers reversed course. They got a shot in the arm from rookie return specialist Randall Cobb as well as solid performances from kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay.
There's still room for improvement, particularly on the coverage units, but the Packers are headed in the right direction. Can they continue to improve and can players like Cobb, Crosby and Masthay continue to play at a high level?
How do the Packers utilize all the talent at wide receiver in the passing game?
Without question, the Packers' top two receivers are Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, but there might be a changing of the guard further down the depth chart. Donald Driver has been a productive receiver in Green Bay for years, but time may have passed him by. It could be time to give Randall Cobb a larger role on offense, and perhaps even James Jones surpasses Driver in the wide receiver pecking order as well. Jermichael Finley, who is frequently split out wide, figures to factor heavily into the Packers plans as well.
Will the running game be good enough to take pressure off the passing game?
The Packers' bread and butter under head coach Mike McCarthy has and probably will continue to be the passing game. But there's a line of thinking that if the Packers could muster a better running attack, it would at least take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers and the aerial display. Last year the Packers ranked near the bottom of the NFL with less than 100 rushing yards per game. Without Ryan Grant, the Packers will be relying on a young and experienced stable of running backs led by James Starks.
Can the pass rush be more effective than last season?
The blame for the poor pass defense lies primarily with the pass rush, or lack thereof. The Packers had 29 sacks last season, only two NFL teams had fewer. And considering how often teams dropped back to pass after falling behind to the Packers, the sack efficiency was particularly atrocious. After losing Jenkins to free agency, the Packers never could find anyone else to take pressure off Clay Matthews. They tried to rectify that problem in the offseason by signing Anthony Hargrove in free agency and then selecting Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy in the NFL draft.
Will all the young defensive players be able to stop the run?
The pass rush might get the majority of the attention, but it's only part of the equation. Considering the Packers spent their first six draft choices on defense, it remains to be seen how they'll play the run as well. Nick Perry is expected to be a three-down player, so he'll need to play the run effectively, and it helps that he has a 270 lbs frame. Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillian, Terrell Manning and the rest of the Packers defensive rookies will all be expected to do their part in stopping the run as well.
Will the players on injured reserve come back healthy?
Derek Sherrod, Alex Green and Andrew Quarless all ended last season on injured reserve, and will look to rebound in 2012. At the very least, Sherrod will be a swing, backup tackle and perhaps a starter if Marshall Newhouse falters. Green is being counted upon to take on a bigger role after the departure of Ryan Grant. And Quarless was showing big time signs of improvement, especially as a blocker, before a knee injury cut short his 2011 season. Fullback John Kuhn can be added to the list as he probably would have went on injured reserve with a knee injury had the Packers' season not ended in the playoff loss to the New York Giants.
Do the Packers keep six wide receivers?
There's so much good, young talent at wide receiver that it's becoming increasingly likely that the Packers will keep six wide receivers this year. In addition to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver and James Jones, a pair of practice squad players from last season will be fighting for roster spot. Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel both have bright futures, but there might only be one roster spot available between the two of them. Could the Packers trade one of them?
How do the Packers replace Nick Collins in the secondary?
Charlie Peprah will get first crack at replacing Collins, but he'll have competition. M.D. Jennings had a positive offseason and got a lot of playing time with the starters as Peprah recovered from offseason knee surgery. The Packers drafted Jerron McMillian in the fourth round, and he adds to the mix. The possibility that Charles Woodson plays more at safety this season looms as well.
Players on the Roster Bubble
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The case can be made to list a lot more bubble players than appear here, but what follows is a few of the more interesting cases.
All Coleman has to do is ask Graham Harrell about the tenuous hold on a roster spot the third-string quarterback has in Green Bay. In both 2010 and 2011, the Packers went into the season with only two quarterbacks on their roster before elevating Harrell from the practice squad when injuries occurred. Coleman can only hope to impress and force the Packers to keep him on their roster rather than risk losing him if they cut him.
Tyler steps into a good situation in Green Bay with the running back position lacking proven commodities. Coming from a program like USC, you know Tyler is talented. There's an opportunity for him to win a roster spot if he can outperform a guy like Brandon Saine.
After spending last season on the practice squad, Gurley is going to be a tough cut in 2012. He offers size that no other wide receiver on the Packers' roster can offer. Standing 6'4" and 232 lbs., Gurley is an imposing target and can be very useful on end zone back-shoulder fades. His ability to block punts on the scout team has taken on legend status as well.
There's a reason the Packers kept Borel on the practice squad the entire year last season and even gave him a raise when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered him a spot on their 53-man roster. He'll be competing with Tori Gurley for a roster spot, but Borel can't be counted out. A former college quarterback, he's still developing into a wide receiver.
Named the John Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in college football during his senior season in college, there's no doubt Williams has talent. But the NFL is an entirely different beast. A couple mental errors last season put him in the doghouse, and his relative lack of height doesn't help either. Williams has to take a big step forward in 2012 in order to make the team, but he's very capable of doing so.
Taylor carved out a big role on special teams in his rookie year and also became more and more involved in the offense as the season went on. His combination of size and athleticism are intriguing, but he still has a ways to go to become a complete player.
There are some that feel Datko could have been a high-round draft choice had shoulder problems not derailed his college career. Since being drafted by the Packers, Datko has shown no ill effects from his injury during the team's offseason program. If he can continue his healthy ways, he'll push for a backup spot along the offensive line.
The Packers have a need for a long-term solution at center once Jeff Saturday leaves, and they must think Draheim has a chance to be that person. Among all their undrafted free agents, the Packers offered Draheim the largest signing bonus. He's not guaranteed a roster spot, but he does step into a good situation.
Genus will be competing with Draheim for a backup center spot. The Packers kept Genus on the practice squad the entire 2011 season, so there's something they liked to keep him around. Whether he can stick around for a second season remains to be seen.
Dominguez was elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster midway through last season but never saw action in a regular season game. He's one of the top backups at guard, but working against him is his lack of versatility. He's never played center, and his attempts to play tackle in the NFL didn't go well during training camp last season.
Suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Neal is on shaky ground. Not only is he suspended, he hasn't shown the ability to stay healthy during his first two years in Green Bay. Neal faces a make-or-break season in Green Bay.
At 6'4" and 304 lbs., Guy offers some intriguing size. After being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Packers placed Guy on injured reserve where he spent the entire last season after sustaining a series of concussions during training camp. He has a chance to win a roster spot, but the Packers will only keep six, maybe seven defensive linemen.
Wynn offers some pass rush but little of anything else. In order to win a roster spot for another season, he'll have to provide a better pass rush than guys like Neal, Guy and even rookie Mike Daniels, which will be a tall task.
It seems like so long ago when Zombo had a sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLV. Zombo followed his surprising 2010 campaign with injury-riddled season in 2011 that limited him to just five games. Now that the Packers have added Nick Perry at outside linebacker, there appears little hope that Zombo can start. He'll be fighting for his roster life as a backup.
The Packers moved Jones to inside linebacker this offseason, but he also saw time back at outside linebacker during minicamp as well. His best chance of making the team might be as a swing player that can back up either spot. His special teams experience helps.
Like Jones, the Packers have moved Lattimore from outside to inside linebacker. He too, might be a swing linebacker, but how he performs in game situations will go a long way toward determining whether he can spend a second consecutive season in Green Bay.
A year ago, Francois didn't have a lot of competition for a backup spot at inside linebacker. This year, he has Jones and Lattimore as well as rookie Terrell Manning. Francois has pass coverage working in his favor as a guy who nabbed two interceptions last year, but he has to show more than that. He also can play outside linebacker in a pinch.
House underwhelmed during his rookie year in the NFL, active for only two regular season games. He needs to take a big step forward, the the possibility is there for him to do so with Sam Shields hanging onto his job by a thread. The Packers will be looking for a cover corner to play on the perimeter, and House is one candidate to do so. He had a strong offseason program, now he just has to build on it.
Jennings exceeded expectations last year by making the roster as an undrafted rookie, but he didn't end up seeing a whole lot of playing time. The Packers then drafted Jerron McMillian in the fourth round this year, and he'll push Jennings for a roster spot. Jennings did, however, get a lot of playing time with the starters during the offseason program with Charlie Peprah sitting out, so he's got that working in his favor.
Players to Watch
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If you're headed to take in a practice at training camp in Green Bay, here are some of the players to keep an eye on.
Now that Matt Flynn has moved on, Harrell steps into the No. 2 quarterback spot and is an injury to Aaron Rodgers away from stepping into one of the most-scrutinized jobs in the NFL. Harrell is one of the least experienced backups in the entire NFL, having never so much as taken a snap in a regular season game. He'll get a lot of opportunities during preseason games to prepare him accordingly.
Just when the Packers were starting to trust Green and giving him playing time on offense in 2011, his year was cut short by a torn ACL. If he can show he's recovered, Green could play a big role in 2012. Without Ryan Grant, the Packers need someone to share the load with James Starks, and Green will have a lot of responsibility.
Saine is in competition with Greene to spell Starks. Where Green has power, Saine has speed. Saine also has good receiving ability out of the backfield. He's a good candidate for a third-down back if he can also show he can protect the quarterback.
Everyone knows what Cobb is capable of as a return specialist, and now it's time to find out what he's worth as a receiver. His role figures to increase on offense in 2012, and if he's explosive as as a pass catcher as he is in the return game, the Packers could have a very special player on their hands.
After stepping into the national spotlight courtesy of his appearance on the reality-television show "Dancing With The Stars," Driver took a pay cut in a restructured one-year deal in order to spend another season in Green Bay. Driver was a featured receiver for years in Green Bay, but his new role in 2012 is worth watching.
Because Chad Clifton was released in the offseason, Newhouse has been given the starting left tackle job by default. Newhouse had both ups and downs last season, but he did show promise. His improvement could help the Packers offensive line take a huge jump forward in 2012.
The Packers aren't ready to give up on a first-round draft choice yet. Far from it. But Sherrod has to prove he's recovered from his broken leg suffered late last season if he's going to mount a challenge to Newhouse as the Packers' left tackle. If he doesn't win a starting job, he'll have to be versatile enough to become a swing backup on both the left and right sides of the offensive line.
Unless a lawsuit reverses his suspension, Hargrove will be gone for the first eight games of the season. The Packers reserve his rights when he comes back, however, and he won't count against their roster during his suspension. It's worth watching how he impacts the Packers' pass rush during the preseason when he's still eligible to play.
The Packers had Worthy working with their starters in the nickel package during the offseason. It will be interesting to see if he can provide the pass rush that was absent last year as well as take on a bigger role in the base 3-4 defense as well. It doesn't hurt his chances that two other defensive linemen are suspended to begin the season.
Moses caused a stir during the offseason when he practiced with the starters when Clay Matthews sat out to rest his ailing hamstring. All Moses has to do now is take the momentum he built during minicamp and take it with him to training camp, because there's a world of difference between practicing in pads and practicing in shorts.
Last season Smith impressed onlookers when filling in for an injured Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk during a brief stint that included three starts. Some observers have questioned whether Smith has the ability to steal playing time away from incumbent starter A.J. Hawk. Maybe Smith does, but he'll have to prove it during training camp.
Shields found himself in the doghouse last season in the playoff game against the New York Giants when the coaching staff reduced his role in a time-share with Jarrett Bush. Considering how well Shields performed during 2010, his demotion came as a disappointment. He'll be out to make up for it in 2012, but he has to show a more physical side in his tackling.
Taking into account an injury that actually caused nerve damage in his shoulder last year, Williams played pretty well. He had career highs in passes defensed (22) and tackles (64,) but Williams wasn't as physical as he would have liked, either in his tackling or press-man coverage. His interceptions also dropped from nine in 2010 (including the playoffs) to four last year. It will be interesting to see how much Williams recovers from his injury and if he can regain his prior form.
It doesn't come as a surprise that the Packers looked for help at safety during the NFL draft after releasing Nick Collins in the offseason. But perhaps it was a surprise that they selected an under-the-radar small school player in the fourth round. It's anyone's guess whether McMillian will be ready to contribute during his rookie year.
Best Depth Chart Battles
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One of the most entertaining aspects of training camp is watching the players who are assured of roster spots but are fighting and climbing their way up the depth chart. They'll be the ones playing big roles when the regular season starts.
Graham Harrell attempts to become Aaron Rodgers' backup
Matt Flynn has taken his services to Seattle, signing with the Seahawks in free agency. That's opened the door for Harrell to become the top backup to starter Aaron Rodgers. It's a big step up for Harrell who was a prolific college quarterback, but hasn't taken so much as a single regular snap in the NFL. In fact, Harrell is poised to become the only backup quarterback in the entire league who's never taken a snap before, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For better or worse, he'll be entrusted to run the Packers offense if anything happens to Rodgers. That's a big responsibility, and because of it, expect Harrell to get a lot of practice reps this summer as he begins his apprenticeship.
Wide receiver pecking order
The days of Donald Driver's 1,000-yard receiving seasons look to be over. There's a changing of the guard taking place, and some new faces are becoming fixtures in the Packers' aerial attack. Last year, Jordy Nelson joined Greg Jennings among the top threats on team as Nelson had over 1,200 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns. But how far will driver slide? Randall Cobb looks poised to replace him as one of the Packers' slot receivers. Perhaps James Jones will play a larger role as well. Then there's the up-and-coming pair of practice squad players from a year ago, Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel. Some have argued that it would be a mistake to stunt the growth of a young player at the expense of playing an aging veteran. What will happen? Tune in to find out.
Alex Green and Brandon Saine looking for defined roles
With Ryan Grant out of the picture, James Starks figures to become the featured back in Green Bay. But running-back-by-committee seems to be the way things are going in the NFL. How how will the Packers divvy up their carries between Green and Saine? Green would appear to be the more powerful running and could play a role as a short-yardage and goal-line back. Saine is a talented receiver out of the backfield and could be an ideal third-down back. Maybe they share the roles. And whatever their job is, both of them have to prove they can protect Aaron Rodgers.
Jerel Worthy taking on a big role
Because Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove are suspended for the start of the regular season, the Packers will be relying upon a rookie to play a major role very early in his career. Will Worthy be ready? The Packers gave him a trial by fire during their offseason program by lining him up next to B.J. Raji in their starting nickel defense, but due to being short-handed, they might need Worthy to play even more snaps, at least until Neal and Hargrove come back. The Packers will be looking for an increased pass rush this season, and they'll be banking on Worthy to provide at least some of it.
D.J. Smith looking for more playing time
In an impressive debut last season where he started three games at midseason for an injured Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk, Smith showed a nose for the football. He's a tackling machine and may force the Packers to somehow, someway get him involved in the defensive game plan. It's Hawk's job to lose, but maybe the Packers can figure out some sort of time-sharing role with Smith. The Packers' "Psycho" defensive package that puts five linebackers on the field at once could be one way to get him on the field. Whatever their plans are, Smith is a player on the rise.
Cornerback jobs up for grabs
There are several ways for cornerbacks to get on the field in the NFL. With passing offenses dominating, there's a need for defensive backs to shut them down. When the Packers are in their nickel and dime packages, they're frequently bringing extra cornerbacks on the field. In the playoff game against the Giants last year, both Sam Shields and Jarrett Bush were sharing snaps, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers obviously wasn't confident to give either of them the full-time job. That has opened the door for guys like Davon House or rookie Casey Hayward to get more playing time. And if Charles Woodson is moved to safety, that's just another way for a cornerback to get on the field.
Looking to replace Nick Collins
The Packers lost a three-time Pro Bowler when they released Collins during the offseason, so those will be some big shoes to fill. There's been some speculation that Woodson will be moved to safety, but it appears if it does happen, it's only going to be part-time. Charlie Peprah has the inside track for the starting job opposite Morgan Burnett, but he'll have some other players breathing down his neck. M.D. Jennings put together and impressive offseason, and the Packers selected a rookie safety during the draft in Jerron McMillian. Perhaps none of them will be the next Nick Collins, but the Packers will just be hoping to find a solid player in his own right.
Full Green Bay Packers Training Camp and Preseason Schedule
Stretching at Ray Nischke Field
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Thursday, July 26
8:15 A.M. - SHELLS
Friday, July 27
8:15 A.M. - SHELLS
Saturday, July 28
8:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Sunday, July 29
Monday, July 30
8:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Tuesday, July 31
8:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Wednesday, August 1
8:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Thursday, August 2
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Friday, August 3
6:30 P.M. - FULL PADS
Saturday, August 4
Sunday, August 5
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Monday, August 6
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Tuesday, August 7
3:30 P.M. - FULL PADS
Wednesday, August 8
Thursday, August 9
PRESEASON GAME at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS - 7:00 P.M. CDT
Friday, August 10
Saturday, August 11
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Sunday, August 12
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Monday, August 13
7:00 P.M. - FULL PADS
Tuesday, August 14
3:30 P.M. - FULL PADS
Wednesday, August 15
Thursday, August 16
PRESEASON GAME vs. CLEVELAND BROWNS - 7:00 P.M. CDT
Friday, August 17
Saturday, August 18
Sunday, August 19
11:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Monday, August 20
11:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Tuesday, August 21
11:00 A.M. - HELMETS
Wednesday, August 22
Thursday, August 23
PRESEASON GAME at CINCINNATI BENGALS - 6:00 P.M. CDT
Friday, August 24
Saturday, August 25
Sunday, August 26
11:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Monday, August 27
11:15 A.M. - FULL PADS
Tuesday, August 28
11:00 A.M. - HELMETS
Wednesday, August 29
Thursday, August 30
PRESEASON GAME vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - 6:00 P.M. CDT
Green Bay Packers Training Camp Info
Charlie Peprah rides a child's bike in a training camp tradition.
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The tradition of an annual Packers training camp dates all the way back to 1946 when Curly Lambeau took his teams to Rockwood Lodge just a few miles north of Green Bay.
In 1958, the Packers began a relationship with St. Norbert College in De Pere as a base for their training camp, a relationship that continues today and is the longest in league history.
No practices are held at St. Norbert, but it does serve as a base for living arrangements, transportation and meals, including dinner and snack.
The Packers hold all their training camp practices at the same site as their regular-season facility just one block east of Lambeau Field at Ray Nitschke Field, which abuts the Don Hutson Center.
All practices are open to the public and include a variety of morning, afternoon and evening start times (see previous slide).
One of the most enduring and endearing training camp traditions is the short player commute to and from Lambeau Field to Ray Nitschke Field in which players take a child's bike and, in turn, the child will carry the kid's helmet to practice.
Just days before training camp begins, the Packers will hold their annual shareholder's meeting on Tuesday July 24. This year is expected to have the largest attendance in team history after the team added more than a quarter million new shareholders in their latest stock sale that ended this past February.
As a team with one of the richest histories in the NFL, training camp in Green Bay is a destination in itself. Traditionally there is a map of the United States and the world placed outside Ray Nitschke Field, in which fans place pins representing where they travel from to attend camp. Invariably, all 50 states and several countries are represented.
Full Green Bay Packers Camp Roster
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Green Bay Packers 2012 Rookie Class
Roger Goodell and Nick Perry
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A look at this year's draft class and where they stand as they enter their first Packers training camp.
With their first-round draft choice, the Packers selected the outside linebacker from USC.
Perry was a defensive end in college, and the biggest question is whether this 270 lbs. player can transition to a two-point stance in the NFL. The Packers must feel pretty good about Perry based upon their decision to make him a starter pretty much since Day 1 of their offseason program. They also felt good enough to make Perry their right side outside linebacker, allowing them to move Clay Matthews back over to the left side. Perry is expected to be a three-down player, and as such, he'll play a big role as to how much the Packers defense as a whole improves or stagnates this season.
With their first pick in the second round, the Packers selected the defensive lineman from Michigan State.
The Packers traded up in the second round to nab Worthy and wasted little time inserting him with the starters in their nickel package during their offseason program. It's obviously an attempt to increase their pass rush, and with a couple defensive linemen suspended to start the season, Worthy is likely to play a big role early in 2012. Whether he's ready to produce so early in his rookie year is worth watching, and so is whether he's ready to take on a bigger role in the Packers' base defense.
With their second pick in the second round, the Packers selected the cornerback from Vanderbilt.
Like Worthy, the Packers also traded up in the second round to grab Hayward who was a ballhawk at Vandy with 15 career interceptions. There's a lot of competition at cornerback this season, so it's difficult to tell whether Hayward will contribute much during his rookie year. His playing style is reminiscent of Charles Woodson, which perhaps makes him a candidate to become Woodson's eventual replacement as the cornerback that covers opponents' slot receivers.
With their first compensatory draft pick in the fourth round, the Packers selected the defensive linemen from Iowa.
The first thing that stands out with Daniels is his relatively small body size for a defensive linemen. Standing 6'0" and 290 pounds, he's both short and light. But Daniels was also quick and racked up 15.5 career sacks and 27.0 tackles for a loss in college. Due to his body size, it makes sense that the Packers are looking at Daniels to provide a pass rush in their defensive subpackages but perhaps not so often in their base defense. He also has to show he's recovered from a shoulder injury that prevented him from practicing during the entire offseason program.
With their second compensatory draft pick in the fourth round, the Packers selected the safety from Maine.
After the Packers released Nick Collins during the offseason, it left a gaping hole at the safety position in Green Bay. The Packers perhaps surprised some people by selecting an under-the-radar small school safety to help fill that void. Based upon comments from Ted Thompson and the coaching staff, it would appear McMillian would best fit the description of "strong safety" as a guy who can help them by playing in the box.
With their fifth-round draft choice, the Packers selected the linebacker from North Carolina State.
For the third time in the 2012 draft, the Packers traded upward, this time to grab Manning. He played in a 4-3 defensive system in college, but it looks like he'll be asked to play inside in Green Bay. For the time being, he'll back up players like Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk and D.J. Smith, but Manning brings a high degree of athleticism and ability to make plays from sideline to sideline, which makes you wonder if the Packers might somehow be able to utilize him. At the very least, Manning would appear to be a special teams player as a rookie.
With their first compensatory draft pick in the seventh round, the Packers selected the tackle from Florida State.
Some have speculated that if Datko did not have so many issues with a lingering shoulder injury in college, he would have been a much higher draft choice. Like many other of the other rookies, he'll spend his time learning behind veterans like Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod. Datko provides the Packers depth, and maybe in the future he'll be to take on a bigger role on offense.
With their second compensatory draft pick in the seventh round, the Packers selected the quarterback from Tennessee-Chattanooga.
When Matt Flynn left for the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, it was clear the Packers needed to add some depth at quarterback. It's unlikely B.J. Coleman would be able to overtake Graham Harrell for the No. 2 quarterback job in Green Bay, at least right away, but perhaps he can in the future. The Packers don't typically don't like to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster unless injuries necessitate it, so it will be Coleman's job to convince the Packers they risk losing him if they cut him.
Green Bay Packers 2012 Undrafted Free Agents
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The Packers are traditionally one of the youngest teams in the NFL under general manager Ted Thompson, and there's almost always a few undrafted rookies that make the roster.
Last year five undrafted rookies were signed to the 53-man roster at some point during the season––M.D. Jennings, Vic So'oto, Jamari Lattimore, Brandon Saine and Ray Dominguez.
There's a good chance a handful of the following players make the Packers' roster this year, and a few more signed to the practice squad.
Tyler is probably the highest-profile undrafted free agent signed by the Packers in 2012. When you're the starting running back at a power program like USC, you've got to have talent. But Tyler had just a mediocre career for the Trojans running for a little more than 500 yards and four touchdowns his senior year. He also has some immaturity issues with multiple alcohol-related incidents. If he can do some growing up and let his talent shine, he's got a chance to win a roster spot at a position without a lot of depth.
Bennett rushed for more than 500 yards in each of the past two seasons at Minnesota but was never a star. "I always want my QB knowing that he is protected at all times when I’m in the backfield," Bennett told NFLDraftSeason.com. Because protecting Aaron Rodgers is such a priority in Green Bay, the ability to pass block is a pretty good quality to have.
Cooper is looking to make the transition from small school Winston-Salem State to fullback in the NFL. He got a lot of practice time during the offseason program because John Kuhn and Jon Hoese sat out with injuries. There may be a spot for him as Kuhn's backup if Cooper can impress and play special teams as well.
Moss is known for being a two-sport star at South Dakota State where he played four years of basketball and finished out his one remaining year of eligibility on the football field. He still has a long way to go to become a polished wide receiver, but his talent is undeniable.
Boykin leaves Virginia Tech as the school's all-time leading receiver. Perhaps surprisingly, Boykin was already cut by the Jaguars this offseason and subsequently signed by the Packers.
The Packers signed Gilleylen following a tryout at their rookie orientation camp back in May. The played mostly running back at Nebraska, but the Packers are committed to making him a wide receiver.
As a tight end at Minnesota Lair had a career-high 39 receptions for 526 yards and two touchdowns in 2010, but saw his production decrease in 2011 with only 11 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown.
Just a few weeks after the draft, the Packers cut Wake Forest tight end Cameron Ford and signed Bostick from Newberry College.
Brooks was a three-year starter at Virginia Tech and a second-team All-ACC selection both his junior and senior seasons. Many NFL Draft prognosticators predicted him to be drafted.
Barclay was a three-year starter at West Virginia and a first-team All-Big East selection during his senior season. He tied a school record by appearing in 52 career games.
Among all the rookie free agents on the Packers roster, Draheim received the largest signing bonus out of all of them, according to Packer Report. That shows how highly they value him. Draheim was a first-team All-Mountain West selection as a left tackle at San Diego State his senior season, but the Packers are converting him to center.
Cook started 20 career games for a prolific offensive attack at Arkansas, including all 13 games his senior year. He played on the same offensive line as Packers teammate Ray Dominguez at Arkansas.
Allard was a three-year starter at left tackle for Delaware where he made 33 career starts. He was a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association his senior year.
McCabe started 36 career games at Holy Cross where he earned all-conference honors for three consecutive years, including being named first-team All-Patriot League his senior season.
Moses turned some heads during the Packers' offseason program by getting some playing time with the starters when Clay Matthews sat out due to some hamstring issues. Although he played defensive end at Tulane, Moses will bank on his experience as an outside linebacker at Iowa before transferring.
Richardson was a three-year starter at safety for Vanderbilt where he made 256 career tackles but only one interception. He'll have to show a little bigger nose for the football during training camp.
The Packers signed Pellerin after he was cut by the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason. Pellerin played cornerback in college at Hampton, but he'll be asked to play safety for the Packers or perhaps cover slot receivers.
Merrill began his college career at Wisconsin before transferring to Illinois State where he was an All-Missouri Valley Football Conference second-team selection his senior year.
Turner was a two-time All-Great West Conference first-team selection at cornerback for Southern Utah.
Green Bay Packers 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions
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The Packers typically haven't been active buyers in free agency under general manager Ted Thompson, so it came as a surprise when they signed not one but two unrestricted free agents this offseason.
The Packers also signed two street free agents along the defensive line for a total of four new faces.
When Scott Wells left for the St. Louis Rams in free agency, the Packers had to do something at the center position. And they made quite a splash when they signed one of the best NFL centers of the past decade or so, as well as a potential future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Saturday. Among the positives Saturday brings is a veteran's presence and leadership, along with experience in the Colts' no-huddle offense. About the only thing people doubt is Saturday's age. He's currently 37 years old, and only signed a two-year contract. He's obviously not the long-term solution at center for the Packers, but they'll be happy as long as he can give them a productive season or two and make another Super Bowl run.
The Packers probably couldn't have predicted all the attention Hargrove would receive when they signed him to a one-year, minimum salary contract in the offseason. Hargrove has been suspended the first eight regular-season games by the NFL for his part in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program in 2009 and 2010, but the possibility still exists legal action could prevent his suspension. In the event it doesn't, the Packers will likely hang onto him and see where he fits into their plans when he comes back. It's always possible they'll have injuries in the meantime, and Hargrove could provide a set of fresh legs during the second half of the season. The Packers hope he can help the pass rush whenever he is eligible to play.
Muir's career has come full circle. He originally signed and played with the Packers as an undrafted rookie in 2007. After being released, Muir went on to play the next several seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, including winning a Super Bowl ring in 2008. After being cut late in the 2011 season by the Colts, the Packers have brought Muir back in the fold to compete for a roster spot. It appears he's being trained as a backup nose tackle, but Muir faces long odds to make the 53-man roster. He'll need an impressive training camp to do so.
At one point, Merling was a highly-touted prospect, the 32nd player drafted overall in 2008 by the Miami Dolphins. He probably had his best season as a rookie, but his production has decreased each year since, playing in only 10 games and starting one in 2011. He also had an Achilles injury and was arrested while he was in Miami as well. The Packers signed Merling to minimum salary, low-risk contract, so anything he provides would be viewed as a bonus. He isn't being expected to be a key cog in their defensive line rotation.
Game-by-Game Preseason Analysis and Predictions
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Here's what to look forward to and what to expect from the Packers during their preseason schedule of games.
Packers at Chargers, Thursday Aug. 9, 7 p.m. CT, televised on ESPN
In the past, it wasn't unusual for the Packers' first preseason game to be a Saturday. Because their first preseason game is on a Thursday, the Packers' entire training camp schedule had to be bumped up a few days this year. They'll make the long trip to the West coast in game televised nationally on ESPN.
There's sure to be butterflies as rookies get their first ever playing time as a professional football player, and that always makes predicting the outcome of a preseason game like this difficult. The starters always get a little bit of playing time, but usually not for more than a quarter. The remainder of the game is a chance to see what the players down the depth chart are made of and see who's out to make an impression.
The Chargers have home-field advantage, and because Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the starters don't figure to play long, San Diego gets the nod.
Prediction: Chargers 27 Packers 24
Browns vs. Packers, Thursday Aug. 16, 7 p.m. CT, televised statewide
The Packers return home for their preseason opener in the annual Midwest Shrine Game held at Lambeau Field. The starters play a little bit more in the second preseason game, and there will be excitement in the air as the rookies get a taste of their home field for the first time in a game environment.
Mike Holmgren will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame Saturday July 21 and will return to Green Bay just weeks later with his Browns for the fourth consecutive year that these two teams will meet each other in the preseason. Brandon Weeden looks to be the starting quarterback in Cleveland, but he'll still be working out the kinks.
Prediction: Packers 35 Browns 14
Packers at Bengals, Thursday Aug. 23, 6 p.m. CT, televised statewide
In Week 3 of preseason action, the Packers travel to Cincinnati to face their only preseason opponent that qualified for the playoffs last year. The third preseason game is also the game that teams traditionally play their starters the most.
The game figures to be a matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton with both leading their squads well into the second half. At some point, they'll give way to the backups, however, and if it's close at the end, the outcome could be decided by players further down the depth chart just like the Packers' third preseason game last season, a come-from-behind 24-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Prediction: Bengals 28 Packers 24
Chiefs vs. Packers, Thursday Aug. 30, 6 p.m. CT, televised statewide and on the NFL Network
Wrapping up the preseason will be the annual Bishop's Charities Game in Green Bay as the Packers host the Chiefs. It will be the third consecutive year these two teams have met in the preseason finale and the second in a row at Lambeau Field.
Starters don't tend to play much in the final preseason game, so it will be a good chance to see guys like Graham Harrell to get a lot of playing time. It will also be the final opportunity for any players on the roster bubble to state their case for being kept on the team. Anything can happen in the final preseason game and sometimes does.
Prediction: Packers 17 Chiefs 14
Projecting the Final 53-Man Roster
An early, off-the-cuff prediction of the Packers' final 53-man roster.
Running Backs (3)
Wide receivers (6)
Tight Ends (3)
Offensive Linemen (9)
Defensive Linemen (6)
Outside Linebackers (4)
Inside Linebackers (5)
Note: Defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal are currently suspended by the NFL and won't count against the 53-man roster.
Players on injured reserve or the PUP list don't count against the roster either, and a player like Andrew Quarless may be eligible for either one of those lists.