Green Bay Packers Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
Since the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season, the team has been to the playoffs three straight years. The Packers have also won three straight NFC North titles. Pretty good, huh?
Perhaps not as good as one might think. The Packers have been 1-3 in the postseason over that time and have never advanced further than the NFC divisional round in the playoffs.
There is also the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be 31 years old later this year and that he missed almost half of last season with a fractured clavicle.
So what does this all mean? It means that the Packers want to do whatever they can to advance their program to the next stage, which is getting deep into the postseason. Their ultimate goal is winning another Super Bowl.
How does that happen? Players have to be accountable for what they do on the field, both in the regular season and the postseason.
Between free agency and the 2014 NFL draft, the Packers have put some players on notice this season that it is time to perform and produce the results that are expected because of their talents.
I'm listing three of those players in this slideshow.
Linebacker Nick Perry
Outside linebacker Nick Perry was the first-round pick of the Packers in the 2012 NFL draft. Perry had to make a transition in the NFL to linebacker because he had played defensive end at USC in college.
The results over the past two years? Well, Perry has flashed his pass-rushing ability on a number of occasions, but injuries have hampered his progress.
In two years with the Pack, Perry has 46 combined tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles. But Perry has only played in 17 games instead of a possible 32. Wrist, knee and foot injuries have forced Perry out of the lineup during that time.
With the Packers signing Julius Peppers in free agency, drafting Carl Bradford of Arizona State and also signing undrafted free agent Adrian Hubbard of Alabama, Perry could see his playing time decrease unless he plays at a high level.
Mike Neal also played Perry's position at times while No. 53 was hurt last year and had pretty good results with five sacks.
The good news for Perry is that the Packers are going to be more innovative with their defensive schemes in 2014, which means Perry could also play the "elephant" defensive end position at times like he did at USC.
The bottom line for Perry is that he has to stay healthy first and foremost if he has any chance of becoming the player the Packers thought he would be when he was the 28th selection of the draft in 2012.
Safety Morgan Burnett
Going into last season, safety Morgan Burnett was an ascending player. Burnett missed most of his rookie season in 2010 because of a knee injury, but he bounced back with nice seasons in 2011 and 2012 to garner a contract extension last summer.
But things started going bad for Burnett at training camp last year when he injured his hamstring. That injury cost Burnett the first three games of the season. When No. 42 returned, he was up and down with his performance but mostly down (as was the play of fellow starting safety M.D. Jennings).
As noted by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Burnett led the Packers with 17 missed tackles, and I'd also note that none of the safeties had an interception last season. That hasn't happened in Green Bay since the early 1950s.
There were also multiple blown coverages by both Burnett and Jennings.
The Packers decided to do something about the situation this year. First, they didn't bring back Jennings, not offering him a contract when he was a restricted free agent. Jennings then signed with the Bears as a free agent.
Also, head coach Mike McCarthy stated that he wants defensive back Micah Hyde on the field more often in 2014 after Hyde's solid rookie year last season, and that could mean some time at safety.
Finally, the Packers drafted talented safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama with pick No. 21 in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
What does this all mean for Burnett? It might mean that he will play like he did in 2011 and 2012 because of the addition of Clinton-Dix.
On the other hand, he might be pushed for playing time by Hyde if he doesn't start performing up to expectations.
Wide Receiver Jarrett Boykin
Wide receiver Jarret Boykin has to feel a bit like Rodney Dangerfield—he's not getting any respect.
Why? Boykin had a breakthrough season in 2013 in his second year in the NFL, as he had 49 receptions for 681 yards and three touchdowns.
Because of that performance and the loss of James Jones via free agency, it was widely expected that Boykin would be the clear No. 3 option at wide receiver for the Packers in 2014, playing behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Maybe not now. Why? Well, before the NFL draft, the Packers already had some nice young talent at the receiver position with players like Myles White, Chris Harper, Alex Gillett and Kevin Dorsey.
Even with that, the Packers still drafted three wide receivers in the 2014 draft, selecting Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis.
Part of the reasoning behind making the depth chart so large at wide receiver is the fact that both Nelson and Cobb are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next year.
Still, Boykin has to feel like he is being pushed a bit. If somebody did take over as the third receiver on the Packers in 2014 instead of Boykin, who would it be?
My guess is that it would be the very talented Adams. Adams was selected in the second round of the draft. History shows that receivers taken in the second round of the draft under Ted Thompson usually perform at a high level.
Examples are Greg Jennings, Nelson and Cobb.
Bottom line, as good as Boykin was in 2013, he is going to have to keep improving to maintain his status with the Packers.