Packers Not Likely to Make a Strong Push to Keep FA WR James Jones

The Packers are likely to move on from impending free agent wide receiver James Jones according to beat writer Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The Packers are in desperate need for wideouts who can get separation from defensive backs and “figure to go with younger players” than the 32-year-old Jones. Having said that, Jones returning to the Packers in 2015 was a godsend after Jordy Nelson went down with a torn ACL in training camp and he was quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ most reliable target.

He was particularly effective early in the season but faded down the stretch, ending the season with 50 catches for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. Jones has good hands and an excellent work ethic but rarely makes plays after the catch. The Packers will welcome back Jordy Nelson (ACL) and Randall Cobb while Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, Davante Adams, and Ty Montgomery vie for complementary roles.

This may be the end of the line for Jones, who has only proven effective in Green Bay. He may get signed for the veterans’ minimum and invvited to someone’s training camp but interest in him is likely to be lukewarm at best.

BJ Raji Crucial To Green Bay’s Defense

The Green Bay Packers are likely to be stinging following their painful NFC Championship Game defeat, but that won’t stop the franchise from starting to plan for the next season. Having been overshadowed by the Aaron Rodgers-led offense for the past couple of years, the Green Bay defense really stepped up in 2015 and played a major role in a playoff run that should really have resulted in reaching the Super Bowl. While the whole defensive line improved significantly throughout the campaign, a number of players were instrumental in reaching the latter stages of the postseason and some of them are now waiting to see what their future holds.

BJ Raji was one of those who enjoyed something of a resurgence last year, making the move from defensive end back to nose tackle and making it clear where he does his best work. After an impressive 2010 season saw him earn Pro Bowl status, the Packers made the decision to move the former first round draft pick from his favored position to defensive end, where Raji failed to produce the level of performance that had seen him earn so many plaudits before. After suffering a bicep injury last season, the 29-year-old was unable to secure a long-term contract with the Packers and instead signed a one-year extension.

But following a stand-out, the Packers may have to pull out all the stops in order to keep the big man in Green Bay. And we all know the importance Ted Thompson places on his big men. Raji really showed what he brings to a team in the Packers’ defeat to the Cardinals. Having been torn apart by Arizona running back David Johnson during the regular season game, Raji restricted the Cardinals man to just 2.3 yards-per-carry and 35 yards on the ground.

As we prepare to close the book on another enthralling year, focus is already switching to next season and the Packers will again be one of the teams to watch. If you’re looking to increase your betting opportunities and asking ‘what are the bonus wagering requirements?’ for different sites, there are a host of very tempting offers out there. And for those interested in NFL odds, it’s fair to say Green Bay will once again be expected to make it into the postseason in 2016. While Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, the quarterback is still performing at the top of his game and the veteran looks more than capable of leading this team to another Super Bowl.

The two-time winners haven’t made the season-ending finale since their 2010 success, but you’d have to consider Mike McCarthy’s men contenders again if they can hang onto their key players, such as Raji, and add a number of useful new faces to this roster. The Green Bay management have decisions to make regarding the future of 18 free agents, one of which is their big nose tackle. But while Raji will likely be on the shopping list of a number of NFL teams, the seven-season veteran will probably end up being one of the most important deals Green Bay are looking to conclude this offseason.

As long as they don’t lose a host of key players, 2016 could be a very successful year for the Packers.

Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Potential Free Agency Targets For Green Bay

While the Green Bay Packers secured their NFL playoff spot, it didn’t come as easily as many would have expected after the franchise cruised to a 6-0 record after the opening six games of the regular season. Following their round seven bye, Mike McCarthy’s men all but crawled over the finish line after going 4-6 during the final 10 games of the campaign. General manager Ted Thompson will already be looking at strengthening his roster come the end of the season.

This isn’t the first time the Packers have started the postseason as betting outsiders, but Rodgers has proven beyond doubt he is one of this generation’s best quarterbacks to help Green Bay upset the odds time and again. While the Patriots and the Cardinals are the two teams many 32Red Canada punters expect to be battling it out for the Super Bowl title at the beginning of February, you’d be a brave soul to completely count out the Packers when considering they usually up their game when it comes to the business of playoffs.

Aaron-Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers (12) and Korey Hall (35) by Mike Morbeck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Despite their below-par run of games to close out the season, there is still confidence that the future looks bright for this current group of players, and Green Bay fans won’t be expecting to see a particularly high turnover of personnel in the offseason. Still viewed as being relative outsiders in the race for the NFC title with a lot of 32Red and Betway punters, much of the upcoming business could depend on how the postseason goes and whether this team can bounce back from ending the regular season with back-to-back defeats.

Thompson, who hasn’t been a big fan of big spending when it comes to signing free agents, could well find himself forced to look at alternative options as he looks to provide Rodgers with some support. And if he’s ever going to start looking at the free agency as a source of options, this offseason could well be one of the most interesting in recent years. So let’s take a look at some potential free agency options for Green Bay this season.

Vernon Davis: The tight end was believed to have come close to making the move to Green Bay during the trade deadline only to pass on the two-time Pro Bowler and watch as he was traded to the Denver Broncos. While he may end up staying where he is, the Packers are still expected to be in the market for the 31-year-old come the end of the season. With Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless as the only two tight end options currently on this squad, this is an area that needs addressing and Davis is just the sort of player to fill it. The veteran has shown what he brings to a team during his 10-season professional career, and he has everything the Packers are looking for at this moment in time.

Vernon-Davis
Vernon Davis by Mike Morbeck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Terrance Knighton: While the signing of defensive tackle B.J. Raji on a one-year deal last summer will go down as a decent piece of business, the former first round draft pick has struggled with injuries over the past 12 months and many feel the 29-year-old isn’t the player he once was. With Terrance Knighton expected to hit the free agency when his one-year contract with the Redskins comes to an end in the offseason, the Packers may feel replacing Raji with the Washington man would freshen up their tackle options. After a quiet start to life in the NFL, Knighton has gone on to establish himself as one of the league’s most consistent tackles and the former third round draft pick would be an interesting option for Green Bay.

Matt Forte: Running back will almost certainly be a position the Packers are looking at during the offseason. Following a season in which Eddie Lacy has shown he is probably not the man that Green Bay need to run the big plays in the long term, a player like Forte could be the perfect option for the franchise. The Chicago Bears man is in line to hit the free agency for the first time in his career, coming off the back of a $9.2 million cap hit last season – a figure he’ll be looking to match in 2016. But while he won’t be a cheap option, his stats in 2015 show that he is one of the more consistent running backs in the game, despite suffering an injury midway through the year, and definitely an improvement on Lacy.

Packers Work Out Former Broncos RB Montee Ball

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos

On the heels of a huge win last night over the Lions, the Packers today brought in a former Broncos running back, as the team met with running back Montee Ball.

The 24-year-old played in just five games last season, three starts, due to injury, and ran for 172 yards and a touchdown. In his rookie year he played in 16 games running for 559 yards and a score.

Bears at Packers NFL Week 12 Capsule

CHICAGO BEARS (4-6) AT GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-3)

SERIES

  BEARS PACKERS
THURS. RECORD 23-20-2 18-25-2
SERIES LEADER 92-91-6  
STREAKS   10 of past 11
COACHES VS. OPP. John Fox: 4-2 Mike McCarthy: 14-6
LAST WEEK L 17-15 vs. Broncos W 30-13 at Vikings
LAST GAME 9/13/15: Packers 31 at Bears 23. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers throws for 189 yards & 3 TDs. Packers RB Eddie Lacy rushes for 85 yards & TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/9/14: Packers 55, Bears 14. Green Bay QB Rodgers throws for 315 yards & 6 TDs (145.8 passer rating). Packers CB Casey Hayward records 82-yard INT-TD.
REFEREE Ed Hochuli
BROADCAST NBC (7:30 PM CT): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Chi.), 82 (GB). XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Chi.), 82(GB).

STATS

PASSING Cutler: 192-303-2310-13-6-92.7 Rodgers: 214-347-2482-23 (3L)-3-101.8 (2C)
RUSHING Langford (R): 78-250-3.2-5 Lacy: 105-408-3.9-2
RECEIVING Bennett (TE): 50-425-8.5-3 Cobb: 47-553-11.8-6
OFFENSE 352.1 341.9
TAKE/GIVE -3 +8 (3C)
DEFENSE 340.9 368.6
SACKS McPhee: 5 Peppers: 6.5 (T3C)
INTs 5 tied: 1 4 tied: 2
PUNTING O’Donnell: 45.1 Masthay: 43.0
KICKING Gould: 84 (15/16 PAT; 23/26 FG) Crosby: 75 (24/24 PAT; 17/19 FG)

NOTES

BEARS: Play 34th Thanksgiving game (2nd in row)…QB JAY CUTLER aims for 4th Thurs. game in row with 2+ TDs…In past 5 vs. GB, RB MATT FORTÉ has 754 scrimmage yards (150.8 per game) & 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.). Rookie RB JEREMY LANGFORD has 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.) in past 5…WR ALSHON JEFFERY has 15 catches for 166 yards (83 per game) & 3 TDs in past 2 on Thurs. TE MARTELLUS BENNETT had TD in Week 1. Since 2014, leads NFL TEs with 140 catches. WR MARQUESS WILSON had 1st 100-yard game (102 yards) last week…LB PERNELL MC PHEE has 5 sacks & INT in his past 7. LB WILLIE YOUNG has sack & INT in past 2. Rookie S ADRIAN AMOS had 1st career sack last week. LB LAMARR HOUSTON has 3 sacks in past 3…PACKERS: Host 1st Thanksgiving game since 1923…QB AARON RODGERS has won 10 of past 11 starts vs. Chi (incl. playoffs) & has 116.1 rating. In past 3 meetings, has 13 TDs, 0 INTs & 146.7 rating. Has thrown 54 TDs vs. 2 INTs with 120.5 rating in past 21 at home (incl. playoffs). Has 14 TDs, 2 INTs & 112.4 rating in 7 Thurs. games…RB EDDIE LACY has TD (4 rush, 1 rec.) in all 5 meetings…WR RANDALL COBB has 6 TDs in past 4 meetings. Has 10 TDs in past 10 vs. division. WR JAMES JONES had 2 TDs in Week 1 & has 7 TDs in past 6 meetings…LB CLAY MATTHEWS has 6.5 sacks & 2 INTs in past 5 meetings.  LB JULIUS PEPPERS has 2.5 sacks, FF & FR in past 2 vs. Chi. In past 5 on Thurs., has 5.5 sacks & 49-yard INT-TD. Is only player in NFL history with 100+ sacks (132) & 10+ INTs (11). DE DATONE JONES had 2 sacks last week. S HA HA CLINTON-DIX leads team with 71 tackles. Has sack & INT in past 2. Rookie CB DAMARIOUS RANDALL leads team with 12 PD.

Six Questions with “Leaders of the Pack” Author Rob Reischel

9781629371047

Today PackersGab got a chance to catch up with author Rob Reischel, who wrote a fantastic book on the Packers and other quartarback threesomes in the NFL, entitled “Leaders of the Pack.”

The book explores the Packers history of successful signal-callers, highlighting Bart Starr’s Super Bowl victories, Brett Favre’s collection of NFL records, and Aaron Rodgers’ ascent into becoming one of the best players in today’s NFL.

Here’s a couple questions with Rob about the book and what prompted him to write it.

For a copy of the book – which makes a great holiday gift, click HERE

1. How much research did you go into the book – how long did it take to write?

A: It would be tough to calculate the hours. I grew up on Packer football and have covered the team since 2001. So it’s all of those experiences, combined with many, many hours of conversations with the three main subjects in the book. That gave me the foundation to begin writing the book. From there, I just pounded away on my keyboard for a few months and hopefully produced a book Packer Nation will enjoy.

2. In determining the Packers as the best QB trio in NFL history, where you surprised in that finding?

A: Not really. The folks at Triumph books and myself were knocking around book ideas a couple of summers back and this one really jumped out. Maybe what surprised me most is the gap between Green Bay and the rest of the teams. While several teams have had two great quarterbacks, not many have had three. You can make the case some teams like San Francisco and Pittsburgh might be ahead of Green Bay if it’s just 2-on-2. But when you go 3-on-3, it’s a runaway for Green Bay.

3. How close did you determine that Young, Tittle and Montana were to the Packers trio in your findings?

A: Well, it’s certainly the second-best trio of all-time. And I would argue that Starr-Favre vs. Montana-Young is probably a coin flip. You could certainly campaign for either side and have a pretty strong case. But again, the gap between Green Bay’s #3 (probably Rodgers) and San Francisco’s No. 3 (Tittle) is cavernous. What tipped the scales in Green Bay’s favor in many of these 3-on-3 debates is just how much better the Packers’ third QB is compared to anyone else’s.

4. You talk about how special it is to be a QB of the Packers, almost like being a LB in Pittsburgh – do you find it amazing that Starr was a 17th round pick, and Favre was an afterthought in Atlanta before coming to the Pack? Rodgers was the only really highly profiled QB of the three, and he had to wait his turn before he got it when the team traded Favre.

It is remarkable. It proves you have to be both good and lucky. Clearly, no one in Green Bay ever thought Bart Starr would become an all-time great. Aaron Rodgers was bypassed by 21 teams in the draft. While Ted Thompson had the courage and foresight to select Rodgers, he was also fortunate to have a player like that fall into his lap. And if it wasn’t for the persistence and determination of Ron Wolf, Brett Favre never becomes a Packer. So in many ways, Green Bay was somewhat lucky to acquire all three players — and even more fortunate that all three worked out.

5. In your writing and research, any fun fact or facts that you were simply blown away at?

A few. Talking in depth with Ron Wolf, I loved hearing all the details that went into the Favre trade. This wasn’t an easy transaction. There were months of conversations and Wolf never gave up on his man. I asked Wolf what would he have done if Atlanta refused to trade Favre, and he said “What if the queen had balls?” That was Wolf as his best. Honest. Direct. Witty.

The level that Bart Starr’s father drove him and pushed him was fascinating. It made playing for Lombardi seem like no big deal to Starr because his Dad was even more intense.

And with Rodgers, I was reminded how close he was to quitting football after high school. Rodgers could have chosen any profession he wanted — and probably been a star. He was tempted on several occasions to give up on his dream, but never relented. All of those were pretty interesting to me.

6. How special is it to have Ron Wolf and Brett Favre as part of the book?

Amazing, and I’m deeply indebted to both men for their help with the project. The rise of the Packers these last 25 years doesn’t happen without Favre and Wolf. So for the readers to get insights and stories from these two living legends is pretty special. Having both men share their time and many of those stories with me — and the readers — was pretty cool.

Lions vs Packers NFL Wednesday Injury Report

DETROIT LIONS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday CB Rashean Mathis (concussion)
 
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), LB Travis Lewis (groin)
 
  FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), CB Darius Slay (head), CB Josh Wilson (neck)
 
GREEN BAY PACKERS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday T Bryan Bulaga (knee), CB Casey Hayward (concussion), LB Mike Neal (hip), CB Damarious Randall (illness)
 
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday RB Eddie Lacy (groin), G T.J. Lang (back), LB Clay Matthews (ankle, knee), WR Ty Montgomery (ankle), LB Nick Perry (shoulder, hand), CB Sam Shields (shoulder), G Josh Sitton (back)
 
  FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday S Morgan Burnett (ankle), S Micah Hyde (quadricep), CB Quinten Rollins (neck)

Packers at Panthers NFL Week 9 Inactives

Packers inactives: QB Brett Hundley, CB Quinten Rollins, CB Sam Shields, LB Andy Mulumba, G Lane Taylor, TE Kennard Backman, WR Ty Montgomery

Panthers inactives: S Dean Marlowe, G Andrew Norwell, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, WR Kevin Norwood, DT Dwan Edwards, RB Brandon Wegher, TE Scott Simonson