Green Bay Packers Offseason Report: Rookies Take the Field

Aren DowCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - MAY 1:  Defensive lineman B.J. Raji #90 runs with the football as he participates in practice drills during Green Bay Packers Minicamp at Don Hutson Center on May 1, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

It's May, and there are finally Green Bay Packers playing football. Well, sort of. At least they are practicing.

Packer fans made it through February, March, and April without tearing each other apart on fundamental disagreements of our polarizing general manager, Ted Thompson. We watched in absolute disbelief as Thompson traded up into the first round of the draft, the first time Green Bay had two first-round picks since 1993.

For the first time in a while, Packer fans seemed to come together. Those first-rounders and the rest of the draftees were at rookie orientation this past week.

Here's what has had my attention since the draft.

Quinn Johnson Likes Hitting People

The fifth-round fullback enjoys knocking linebackers flat on their backs. In fact, he likes it more than scoring himself.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I really do," Johnson said. "Yes sir."

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You're not crazy, Quinn; you're just the player I'm looking for. This is exactly what the Packers need: a William Henderson-type fullback to plow the way on short-yardage situations. Is it crazy I can't get enough of this quote?

"I just love the contact."

Collins Is Working Out

Nick Collins said he had no plans to attend the Packers' offseason program, complaining last month that contract negotiations weren't in progress.

Collins has started since he was drafted in 2005, and now he wants his payday after a great season. I think he deserves it, but I wasn't happy to hear those comments.

Head coach Mike McCarthy then told reporters Collins had worked with the new coaches, including Dom Capers.

This is fantastic. It will be hard enough to try to go from the 4-3 to a 3-4, and if Collins had missed most of the offseason, he would have been even further behind.

It also raises a couple of questions. Is Collins in camp now because he is getting what he wants? While I understand those who criticize Collins, you have to understand this is the NFL. The average life span for players is short, and they want to be compensated.

Hopefully Collins realizes the importance of being in camp as a defensive player this year and money isn't the only driving force. Hopefully, both sides can work something out, because the depth isn't pretty after Nick.

Undrafted Signings

Looks like Jersey Al's theory of Thompson being kidnapped looks more and more likely every day. After the draft ended, the Packers suddenly signed 11 undrafted players, including four wide receivers and two tight ends. That's the TT we know and love.

One of those wide receivers, Jamarko Simmons from Western Michigan, broke a bunch of receiving records set by some guy named Greg Jennings. Simmons also said Jennings was a big reason he chose the Packers, and with a 6'2", 231-pound frame, I'd say he is welcome to participate.

Offensive Line Setup

After the draft, McCarthy said Josh Sitton will play right guard. Assuming Daryn Colledge continues at left guard, Cliffy at tackle, and Jason Spitz at center, that only leaves right tackle open. Evidently, the job competition is between T.J. Lang, Tony Moll, and Allen Barbre.

Jamon Meredith is seemingly out of the running because McCarthy and the staff evaluated him for the left tackle position, giving Chad Clifton an heir apparent. Hopefully, one of the tackles steps up and wins the position.

This is one spot I'm a little nervous about. Mark Tauscher has held this spot down for a long time, and now there isn't anyone who stands out.

Thompson Really Did Have a Nice Draft

I wrote a while ago about whether Clay Matthews was worth the deal on draft day. I still believe it was perhaps too much, but Thompson still provided enough depth on Day Two.

We got our two impact players in the first round, but also picked up guys in areas with veterans. Offensive tackle and cornerback were both addressed and really minimized the impact of losing the second- and third-round picks.

Raji Makes Things Interesting

Here is what I'm excited about: the possibilities B.J. Raji opens. The Packers already have him practicing both of the ends and the nose in the 3-4, and having him versatile enough to move all over the line will be tremendous. Raji can either rotate with Ryan Pickett, or the Packers can load the line up with both of the big men.

Raji is strong and quick enough to really be a special player in the 3-4. Thank goodness Dom Capers will be the one to guide him through it.

Greg Jennings Continues to Be Awesome

Thompson, sign this man to be a Packer for life.


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