Green Bay Packers: The Top 5 Packers in Dire Need of Player-Organized Practices
While the likes of Mark Sanchez, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and even Vikings rookie Christian Ponder have pulled teammates together for drills and playbook study sessions, the Packers' core leaders have been hesitant to do the same.
Although these workouts probably hold marginal value for grizzled veterans (especially those coming off an extended season that culminated in a Lombardi Trophy), they would certainly benefit some of the players.
Here are a handful of Packers who would have the most to gain from player-organized practices.
5. Nick Barnett
All players coming back from season-ending injuries during the 2010 campaign would do well to get back in the mix with their teammates, and that goes double for LB Nick Barnett.
Barnett—along with fellow IR casualty Jermichael Finley—ignited a mini-controversy during the lead-up to Super Bowl XLV by publicly grousing about their omission from a team photo session.
The fiery Barnett could make amends for stirring that Super Bowl distraction through his attendance at player-organized practices, which are essentially team-bonding exercises.
By showing that he's re-dedicated to the team, Barnett could re-establish himself as a leader of the defense and make it that much more difficult for Packers brass to let him go.
4. Derek Sherrod
Rookies would obviously benefit from extra time with the veterans. Promising first-round OL Derek Sherrod—for all his intelligence and well-established football acumen—needs time to mesh with his fellow linemen.
Establishing chemistry is one of the unequivocal benefits of player-organized practices, and strong trust and clear communication among Aaron Rodgers' protectors are especially critical.
While some observers thought Sherrod could push for a starting spot on the left side this year, the lack of a "normal" offseason severely hurt that possibility—and missing three lineman-organized practices certainly did not help.
3. Jordy Nelson
If chemistry is critical along the O-line, it is an absolute necessity between quarterbacks and receivers.
For that reason, most of the player-organized practices around the NFL have focused on re-connecting passers with their targets. More than in any relationship on a football field, the QBs and WRs need to be in perfect sync.
With James Jones' future in Green Bay in question and Donald Driver showing some wear on his tires, the 2011 offseason would have been a prime opportunity for Jordy Nelson to make a move up the depth chart.
After a Super Bowl plagued by drops, extra time with Rodgers could only help to boost Nelson's confidence—and Rodgers' confidence in him.
2. Randall Cobb
While some Packer fans are already foreseeing big things for the electric, all-everything second-round pick, Randall Cobb arguably needs player-organized practices more than anybody.
Because rapport and timing between QBs and WRs are so crucial, very few wideouts make a big splash during their rookie campaign.
If Cobb is to assume any substantive role in the Packers offense this year, he needs to get on Rodgers' wavelength as soon as possible.
Player-organized workouts would be the perfect time for him to get in psychic lockstep with No. 12.
1. Graham Harrell
Player-organized practices are an opportunity to reveal one's leadership ability—an absolute must for the quarterback position.
Third-stringer Graham Harrell has already missed a chance to refine his skills and expand his knowledge when coach Mike McCarthy's "quarterback school" was canceled due to the lockout.
With no player-organized workouts in the offing, Harrell is also missing a chance to build his credentials—and credibility—as a leader.
The 2011 campaign represents a crossroads for the former Texas Tech star. He could either solidify his claim to Matt Flynn's role as Rodgers' backup (given that Flynn will likely pursue a starting job during the next offseason) or seal his fate as a practice-squad journeyman.