Legendary senior writer jclombardi profiles Raji, Matthews, Wells, & Bishop.
Raji & Matthews news: Packers defensive stars DT Raji and OLB Matthews are among the featured athletes in the 2011 ESPYs ad campaign. The ESPYs are hosted by “Saturday Night Live” writer Seth Meyers. The 2011 ESPYs will be televised live, Wednesday, July 13, at 9 p.m. EST featuring best sports stories from the past year and leading fans through the best plays, biggest upsets and unforgettable performances.
CENTER SCOTT WELLS NEWS:
Wells profile: At a ceremony honoring Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV win over the Steelers, Wells was awarded a sparkling piece of jewelry he said he would treasure for the rest of his life. The ring inspired him even more for the 2011 season. “Once you have tasted greatness and feel it, and you win a championship, that makes you want it more because you see how real it is, you see it is attainable,” Wells said. “When you hold that Lombardi Trophy, you celebrate with your family and friends and get that Super Bowl ring and put it on, that only drives me to do it again. After seven NFL seasons, the Super Bowl win marked the high point of his athletic career. He took his family to Disneyworld, had a Super Bowl celebration party with another former Vol, Packers tackle Chad Clifton, and last week traveled to Green Bay to receive the ring. He was invited to the ESPY Awards next month in Los Angeles. He has his ring. And he wants another one. “What we went through as a team this year, to be able to persevere and to win the championship, that was huge,” Wells said. “But now that we have received our rings, that chapter is closed and we’re ready to move onto the next chapter. We want to defend our title now, and hopefully we can repeat and celebrate again.”
LB BISHOP NEWS:
Bishop making his mark: Part of the reason the Packers were able to win the Super Bowl was their ability to overcome injuries. While the Packers found replacements at each position that allowed them to win, Bishop truly showed he could be a star. Bishop was rewarded with a new contract and a starting job in 2011. Exactly how good is he after just one year as a starter? Only he and James Farrior had ratings above +4.0 in each defensive category: run defense, pass rush, and pass coverage. His play has pushed Nick Barnett to the backup spot heading into 2011, despite Barnett being one of the league’s best inside linebackers in 2009. Season–In all his starts and the playoffs, he had an overall positive rating and throughout the season, he was a triple threat. In the run game, he ended with a +13.6 rating, 12th best in the league. He was able to bring pressure on one in every four of his pass rushes, an astounding rate. In coverage, he allowed 63.8% of passes thrown his way to be caught, fourth best for all inside linebackers thrown at 10 times or more. He allowed 9.2 yards per catch which was in the upper half of all inside linebackers. Usually a defender has a low catch rate allowed and high yards per catch or vice versa, but Bishop is a rare case. While Bishop seemed to decline at the end of the regular season, he picked his game up for the playoffs. In addition to a positive rating in run defense in all four playoff games, Bishop managed to sack Michael Vick, get three pressures on the Bears’ quarterbacks, and his fumble recovery will go down as one of the memorable plays in Super Bowl XLV. Ahead–Bishop will remain one of the Packers’ inside linebackers for years to come. He will be teamed up with Clay Matthews, ether A.J. Hawk or Nick Barnett, and whoever wins the ROLB job as the Packers try to defend their title in 2011. If Bishop continues his great play, he’l get the recognition he deserves. With Patrick Willis a virtual lock for the Pro Bowl, it’s not out of the question for Bishop to take the other spot.
COMMENTARY: Four great Packers players. In the case of LB Bishop, he was always that rare player with the right intangible qualities who simply needed playing experience to blossom becoming an all-star. Fans had been saying it for years. The fans, along with us, were right.