Green Bay Packers: Nick Barnett and 10 Veterans Who May Be Fighting for Jobs
The late Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."
The Hall of Fame inductee knew a thing or two about winning, having coached two Super Bowl champion teams.
He also knew the difficulty of not only getting to a Super Bowl but winning and then maintaining that championship form year in and year out.
The Green Bay Packers of today are in a similar circumstance, having been crowned world champions in Dallas last February and hoping to get there again.
Their impressive playoff run to the title was accomplished mostly by second and third-string players on defense, and with a plethora of real-time game experience, some youngsters could be making a case for the permanent starting roles come 2011 while these veterans (in no particular order) should be watching out for their jobs.
10. James Jones
He is a possession-type wide receiver, and has hands the size of a small child. The only problem is that those hands can't hold onto the ball.
Jones is a proven talent, but if his dropping balls problem continues, there could be cause for concern.
Accompany that issue with third-year man Jordy Nelson's standout performance in Super Bowl XLV, James Jones very well could move from third to fourth choice wideout on the depth chart.
9. Atari Bigby
Strong Safety was a merry-go-round for the Packers this year.
Bigby started the year injured, and rookie Morgan Burnett filled in until he tore his ACL in Week 4.
Charlie Peprah, Pat Lee, and Bigby all filled in for the rest of the season, with Peprah getting the nod for the majority of the playoffs.
Regardless of which veteran played the most last year, look for Morgan Burnett to challenge for the starting strong safety spot in 2011.
8. Ryan Grant
If the strong safety position was any type of merry-go-round, then running back was a roller coaster from hell for the Green and Gold.
Starter Ryan Grant injured his right ankle in the first game at Philadelphia this season, and a constant shuffle of personnel at that position continued until the Pack met Philly again in the first round of the playoffs.
First-year man James Starks surprised everyone and ran for 123 yards, breaking the Packers' postseason rookie record for rushing yards.
Starks' emergence during the later stages of the season in 2010 could see Ryan Grant sharing carries more often than not next year.
7. John Kuhn
The fullback position is seldom used in an often overlooked Packers run-game, but with the absence of a "true runner" until the end of the season last year, Kuhn emerged as a short-yardage power-runner and good option out of the backfield.
A fan-favorite, Kuhn might have to work extra hard this summer to fight off converted linebacker Korey Hall and third-year man Quinn Johnson as a viable second-option out Aaron Rodgers' backfield next season.
6. Mark Tauscher
Ol' Tausch is getting up there in age, and his defensive end counterparts keep getting younger and faster.
With that being said, there's a definite possibility the Wisconsin native could be fighting for his position at right tackle this summer, with 2010 first-round man Bryan Bulaga impressing the last few games of 2010.
5. Nick Barnett
Barnett injured his wrist in Week 4 against the Lions and was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season in 2010 which opened up a window of opportunity for Desmond Bishop.
Bishop has been competing for Barnett's job for a few seasons now, and finally may have won the role due to his on-field performance this season.
Accompany that with fifth-year man A.J. Hawk's good season and Barnett could find himself in a serious battle for the number one inside linebacker spot.
4. Chad Clifton
This may come as a surprise to many because Clifton is not only regarded as the Packers' best offensive lineman, but also has been a workhorse the green and gold, only missing five games in since 2007.
Yet with Clifton turning 35 at the end of this month, age could start becoming a slight concern for the 12th-year man.
The Packers selected Derek Sherrod out of Mississippi State with the 32nd pick this draft, and may have plans to implement him in the near future—look for Sherrod to make the position battle closer than expected.
3. Brandon Chillar
Though he is not an every-down player for the Packers' defense, he does shuffle into the mix on Nickel packages and when its a passing down.
Often replacing A.J. Hawk in these circumstances, Chillar was sidelined through injury halfway through the season as well, and saw the likes of Eric Walden and and Frank Zombo step-up in his absence.
Having proven themselves more than worthy in the later stages of the season, look for both Walden and Zombo to compete for the same spot Chillar occupied at the beginning of 2010.
2. Cullen Jenkins
Jenkins too, like Clifton, has been a fairly reliable and productive player for the Packers over the year, recording seven sacks in an 11-game, injury barred season.
The same story applies to the eigth-year man as he saw other capable players step-in during his time on the shelf and take advantage of the opportunity.
The likes of Jarius Wynn, Howard Green and C.J. Wilson are all viable options at the defensive end position, and if Justin Harrell ever gets healthy (yeah, right) he could be a fourth option in a very deep defensive line for this team.
1. Daryn Colledge
Colledge has also been a reliable source for the Packers in the past three seasons, starting and playing in all 48 games.
Though age is not really an issue for the sixth-year man, the competition behind him may be the fiercest on the team.
Sure, Colledge is right guard, but with a talented core of tackles competing for only two spots, there could be personnel moving inside.
Harsh it may seem, but he is often flagged for offside and holding penalties, and either a poor training camp by him or good camp by others could see the Boise State product on the sidelines for 2011.
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