Injuries continue to pile up for Packers

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: Linebacker Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers walks with teammates out to the field prior to the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 51-45 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In our daily chat this morning, my co-worker John Paulsen said something interesting in regards to his Packers:

“It seems like Super Bowl winners always have minor injuries throughout the year, but nothing major they can’t overcome. The Packers are getting decimated.”

I agree.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Wednesday night that Packers’ middle linebacker Nick Barnett would miss the rest of the season due to a Brian Urlacher-type wrist injury. And although Barnett is reportedly considering not undergoing surgery, it’s doubtful that he’ll risk further damage to the wrist.

On Thursday, the National Football Post reported that right tackle Mark Tauscher is dealing with a shoulder injury that could sideline him for a significant period of time. These injuries come on the heels of Green Bay having to place safety Morgan Burnett on injured reserve today with a torn ACL.

The good news is that GM Ted Thompson has done a nice job over the years of adding depth to the Packers’ roster. Despite spending most of his practice time at guard and left tackle, rookie first round pick Bryan Bulaga will fill in for Tauscher and should be able to hold his own. Atari Bigby will replace Morgan and 26-year-old Desmond Bishop will take Barnett’s spot in the middle.

The problem is that Bigby (hamstring) won’t be eligible to cover off the PUP list until Week 7, meaning that Derrick Martin (a special teamer) or Carlie Peprah (who is suffering from a quad injury) will have to take over until then. And even before Burnett went down, the Packers were surrendering 5.2-yards per carry, which leads the NFC.

Thanks in large part to Dom Capers’ game plans, Green Bay led the league in defense last year. But their run defense has been an issue and losing Burnett only compounds the problem. Until Bigby is eligible to come off the PUP list, the safety position is awfully thin as well.

Again, Bulaga should hold his own on the offensive line (Thompson drafted him as an eventual replacement for either Tauscher or Chad Clifton anyway), but the Packers have some big concerns on the defensive side of the ball. And as my colleague pointed out this morning, Super Bowl teams generally don’t have this many injuries to overcome – especially so early in the season.

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2010 NFL Question Marks: Green Bay Packers

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Packers and whether or not Green Bay fans can expect the offensive line to keep Aaron Rodgers upright this season.

You’re dreaming if you don’t think the Packers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl this year. Aaron Rodgers proved last season that he could play at an elite level and Dom Capers was a miracle worker (he only had one offseason to transform the Packers from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and they finished 2nd in the NFL in total defense) in his first year as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator.

But even though expectations are high right now in the land of cheese, one question continues to loom large: Can the offensive line keep Rodgers upright?

I don’t know how Rodgers didn’t wind up breathing out of a tube at some point last year. The amount of blows he took on a weekly basis was flabbergasting, but to his credit he somehow went on to throw for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns.

I don’t think you’re listening: He threw for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns with the equivalent of a FINISH LINE ribbon for an offensive line.

Now, was some of that his fault? Yes. At times, he took far too long to get rid of the ball and he sometimes took sacks that he shouldn’t have. But most of the blame could be laid at the feet of the offensive line.

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The Scores Report’s 2010 NFL Mock Draft

This is it – this one is for all the marbles. The two previous mock drafts I put together mean nothing, unless of course one of those is better than the one below. In that case, please consider that to be my final mock so I can save some face.

We’re just days away from the 2010 NFL Draft and as usual, the uncertainty surrounding which player will be drafted by which team is at an all-time high. Teams are sending out smokescreens, it’s hard to figure out which GM is telling the truth (probably roughly around none of them) and all the while, the media is trying to keep up with all the rumors.

But here it is – my final crack at predicting the first round. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section, but remember that they’re only valid when you make predictions before the draft. Don’t be the tool that comes back here a week from now boasting that you knew that Team A would take Player X, or else you will be made fun of mercilessly by your peers.

Let the games begin and once again, Happy NFL Draft time fellow draftnits.

Originally posted: Monday, April 19

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the 2010 draft and if teams only drafted based on talent, then the Nebraska defensive tackle would be the first player selected in round one. But Suh plays a position that most teams can’t justify investing a truckload of guaranteed money in. That’s why Bradford will be the No. 1 pick, along with the fact that the Rams desperately need a quarterback to help revitalize their morbid franchise. I’ve never wavered with this pick – I’ve believed that Bradford was going to be the Rams’ selection at No. 1 all along. If they believe that he’s a franchise quarterback, then Suh and every other prospect in this draft becomes inconsequential in the Rams’ eyes. There’s no more important position on a football field than the one that lines up under center every week. Is taking a quarterback this high a risk? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, a franchise can’t function without a good QB. That’s why St. Louis won’t hesitate to take Bradford here.

2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Lions want everyone to believe that they’ll take an offensive tackle like Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung with this pick and they may very well might. But if Suh is still on the board when the Lions are on the clock in the first round, then they’d be nuts to pass on him. Suh is the best player in the draft on either side of the ball and could be the player current Lions (and former Titans’ DC) head coach Jim Schwartz builds his defense around, a la Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
McCoy has kind of become the forgotten top 5 prospect in this draft because he’s overshadowed by Suh. But he’s a difference maker and a force against the run. If the Rams take Bradford at No. 1, one of the two defensive tackles will fall to Tampa here, which is exactly what it wants. The Bucs need an interior presence in the middle of their line that can be effective both against the run and pass. McCoy can potentially be that player.

4. Washington Redskins: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
As long as Mike Shanahan’s claims that the Redskins will take a quarterback with this pick are untrue, then Williams could very well be the third Sooner to come off the board in the first four picks this year. Okung is regarded as the best offensive tackle in the draft, but Williams is a better fit for Washington’s new zone-blocking scheme, making him the choice here. He’s an excellent all-around blocker and has the potential to immediately fill the void left by Chris Samuels on the Redskins’ O-line.

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Redskins, Chiefs, Browns all after Berry?

Here is some Eric Berry news leading up to the draft:

– The NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora reports that other teams have begun to project Berry to the Redskins at No. 4 overall. The Washington Post is reporting similar news.

– Mel Kiper says that while Bryan Bulaga and Trent Williams remain options, he’d still go with Berry as the Chiefs pick at No. 5. Of course,’s Peter King contradicts Kiper and says that the Chiefs will pass on Berry if he’s available.

– ESPN’s Michael Smith reports that Berry will be the Browns’ pick at No. 7 if he’s available.

Players like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders (when he’s healthy) have made teams realize how valuable it is to have a versatile safety as their last line of defense. Berry is by far the best safety in this year’s class and it’s no wonder why multiple teams in the top 10 are considering him.

That said, the Redskins have a huge hole at left tackle and might not be able to afford passing on one at No. 4. The Chiefs have a similar issue and therefore, might take an OT right behind Washington at No. 5. Cleveland, on the other hand, is in dire need of a playmaking safety and is a logical fit for Berry at No. 7. Even though Reed, Polamalu and Sanders have proven their worth, teams are still reluctant to draft safeties that high. (Although again, I don’t think Cleveland passes at No. 7.)

But I wouldn’t be surprised if Berry never makes it to Mike Holmgren and the Browns based on the emerging importance of the safety position.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Are the Redskins still in the market for a QB at No. 4?

The Redskins are trying hard to convince teams that they plan on taking a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick in next week’s draft, says But with Donovan McNabb on the roster, that’s going to be a tough sell for Washington.

After acquiring McNabb, the Redskins’ biggest need became offensive tackle. (If you want to get technical, offensive tackle has always been their biggest need.) And with Russell Okung, Trent Williams, Bryan Bulaga and Anthony Davis all receiving first round grades, Washington will have plenty to choose from as long as it stays within the first 10-12 picks.

The hope for the Redskins is that some team is in love with Jimmy Clausen and wants him bad enough to trade up to the No. 4 spot to get him. It would be an ideal situation for Washington if it could trade down and still wind up selecting one of the top tackles, all while acquiring more draft picks in the process. Of course, if they miss out on taking one of the four tackles mentioned above, guys like Vladimir Ducasse and Bruce Campbell (two players with late first round, early second round grades) should still be available depending on how far the Redskins trade back.

Presumably, the Raiders, Bills and Jaguars would all be interested in Clausen. But whether or not any of them would be willing to trade up to get him is the question. The Raiders hold the eighth overall pick, while the Bills have the ninth and the Jags have the 10th. Unless the Browns surprise everyone and snag him at No. 7, Clausen should be there for the Raiders at No. 8 and they don’t have to trade up to get him. Of course, that’s where the gamble comes in, because either the Bills or the Jaguars could trade up to No. 4 in order to get ahead of Oakland.

If the Redskins can’t find a trade partner, then they’re not fooling anybody by saying they intend to draft a quarterback with the fourth pick. They’re currently trying to sign McNabb to an extension and therefore, taking Clausen at No. 4 would be a waste.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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