Four Pre-Training Camp Questions (And One Comment)
Given that we talked about just about every interesting special teams story line yesterday, it's time to recap a few of the ideas we may have missed in our position-by-position breakdowns leading up to training camp. Here are five quick questions as we count down the final days to the start of training camp.
1. Will we see the "real" Alex Green?
Third year running back Alex Green will face no lack of competition this year, and given how he's performed so far in his brief career, it would be easy to assume we might be seeing the last of Alex Green in green and gold. But this year, Green is finally healthy after dealing with a knee injury for most of the last two seasons. If he can demonstrate the explosiveness and power running ability that made him a relatively high draft pick, he might make the running back competition that much more interesting.
2. Can James Jones build on his impressive 2012 campaign?
It's almost a given that Jones won't score 14 touchdowns again, but he was more consistent than he's ever been last year. He provided the kind of physical, chain moving receiving threat the Packers have needed, and if he can bring anything close to his 2012 form to the field this year, the Packers could be well on their way to having the three 1000 yard receivers Jones has claimed they can produce.
3. Should Randall Cobb even be considered as a punt returner?
One of Mike McCarthy's more unpleasant nightmares came true when Randall Cobb twisted his ankle on a punt return late in the season. He missed Green Bay's Week 17 match-up with Minnesota, and could possibly have turned the tide in what ended up being a close loss. There's no doubt he's dangerous as a returner, having taken back two punts and a kickoff for scores in his first two seasons, but he's probably more valuable as a receiver. Risking him on returns may not be a palatable option, so the Packers may look to go elsewhere. If Jeremy Ross shows he can contribute as a receiver in addition to his return skills, he may answer this question for the Packers.
4. Which undrafted/low draft pick makes the grade at linebacker?
Last year it was undrafted Dezman Moses that squeaked onto the final roster. This year, Sam Barrington, Any Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Jarvis Reed, and Donte Savage will compete to make the final 53 as either undrafted free agents or late round draft picks. Each of them has their strong points. Barrington and Palmer were standouts at small schools. Mulumba brings intriguing size and pass rushing experience. Reed is definitely an actual linebacker. Savage has a cool name and a workout tape on YouTube. Okay, so they're not all really strong points, but it's almost a sure bet that at least one of them will catch a coach's eye enough to get a longer look, if only on the practice squad.
5. If Angelo Pease is any good at all, he might be a ghost in training camp.
Remember that one play during rookie mini-camp way back in may when Angelo Pease stole the spotlight from Johnathan Franklin and Eddie Lacy with one impressive run? Mike McCarthy does:
Running up the middle, Pease made a hard cut right into a developing hole and burst up the field for a big gain.
"That's a big time cut," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "Frankly, I thought it was Eddie Lacy, the way he dropped his weight and hit the hole. Those are things we're looking for."
Catching the coach's eye, be it only for one practice, is never a bad thing. If Pease has the talent to keep producing runs like that, he may be of use to the Packers. Unfortunately, there's quite a logjam at running back in front of him, and front office politics (and common sense) would probably prevent the Packers from releasing one of their recent draft picks in favor of an undrafted free agent. So if he does have any real talent, Pease might be a good fit for the practice squad. And if that's what the Packers have in mind, you'd better believe they're not going to put anything on tape for anybody else.