Green Bay Packers: The Top 5 Packers in Dire Need of Player-Organized Practices

Mike HsuContributor IIJune 9, 2011

Green Bay Packers: The Top 5 Packers in Dire Need of Player-Organized Practices

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    GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 14: Graham Harrell #7 of the Green Bay Packers passes during the NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field August 14, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)
    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    Former NFL linebacker Tedy Bruschi called the defending Super Bowl champions to task recently for not holding 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

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 27: Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers takes a bow for the fans after sacking Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on December 27, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Seahawks 48-10. (
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  J.C. Brignone #70 and Derek Sherrod #79of the Mississippi State Bulldogs get ready on the line of scrimmage during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs down field against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 09: Randall Cobb #18 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs with the ball during the SEC game against  the Auburn Tigers  at Commonwealth Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    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

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 21:  Quarterback Graham Harrell #7 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 21, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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.