Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers news.
ESPY AWARDS: Tonight, the annual 19th ESPY Awards are at 9:00 pm EST on ESPN. The Packers are nominated in these categories: (1) Best Team–Packers, NFL (2) Best Male Athlete–QB Rodgers, NFL and (3) Best NFL Player–both OLB Clay Matthews and QB Rodgers are nominated. Also, TE Crabtree hosts live-stream broadcast of himself watching the ESPYS on Livestream (http://t.co/o5BjUJx) .
Dominant Team: It’s the NFL’s honor roll of champions, the teams that not only won championships but also dominated a decade. There are the Bears of the ’40s, the Browns and Lions in the ’50s, the Packers in the ’60s, the Steelers in the ’70s, the 49ers in the ’80s, the Cowboys in the ’90s and the Patriots in the 2000s. Who is next to reach the summit? Which team will become the NFL’s power of the 2010s in the post-lockout world? Will it be the current Super Bowl champion Packers, who won their 13th NFL title last season despite losing six Opening Day starters to injury? Green Bay certainly seems capable of winning multiple championships. Although Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers notes “it’s a little early” to forecast a decade of dominance, he likes his team’s chances. “Teams seem to have a four- to five-year window [for winning championships],” he said. “We have enough guys coming back from injured reserved and have a good enough young team that I think we can make a run for the next four or five seasons.” CBS analyst and former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms agrees. “The Green Bay Packers have a lot of dynamic players,” he said. “The atmosphere that the team plays in in Green Bay always keeps the energy high for the Packers. They are at the cutting edge of so many things, like drafting players, and [I like] their offense because of their quarterback. The defense is unique as long as [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers is up there. They are always going to take the next step and won’t get caught in a rut.” Simms adds that any talk about a possible Packers dynasty begins with the man behind center. “Aaron Rodgers is, arguably, the best player physically in the NFL,” Simms said. “He is not a guy who is just going to stand there and get rocked. He has quick feet and a quick release. [He has] not just a good arm, it’s a great arm. When Green Bay won the Super Bowl he made three or four unbelievable throws.” Hub Arkush, editor and publisher of Pro Football Weekly, is another Rodgers fan, but he says don’t discount the gentleman on the Green Bay sideline, head coach Mike McCarthy. Arkush says the Packers’ performance at New England in December, with second string quarterback Matt Flynn at the helm, proved McCarthy’s coaching acumen. Even though Green Bay lost 31-27, it outgained the Patriots by more than 100 yards and Flynn threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns. “To be the dominant team of the decade you need to be able to turn your team over,” Arkush said. “Looking at the way the Packers were built, [Green Bay GM] Ted Thompson may be one of the dominant general managers over the next decade. The Packers won that [Super Bowl] with six Opening Day starters on injured reserve and three of the players who replaced them were on the IR, so that’s nine on the IR.”
Packers defenders hungry: Three Packers defenders made appearances on the NFL Network and its accompanying website Tuesday. Linebacker DesmondBishop, safety Charlie Peprah and cornerback Jarrett Bush shot the segment with former defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Bishop discussed transition that comes with Super Bowl defense. “You get one, it’s good, but we know coming back this next year, everybody’s going to be hunting us down,” Bishop said. “I think if everybody stays hungry, we can do it.” “It was all about opportunities,” Peprah told the website. “Unfortunately, my chance came through an injury to … you hate to get it like that, but that’s the way the league goes. As a backup player, you don’t get the same reps, you have to get it right on the first opportunity. You have to watch film a little differently because you have such a slim margin for error. So when I got my chance, it was like I had been starting my whole career because I prepared like I was a starter.”
Will Grant Start?: Running back Ryan Grant contributed only eight carries and 45 yards to the Packers’ 2010 title run. But despite 703 regular-season yards from Brandon Jackson and a league-best 315 in the postseason from James Starks, Grant expects to still be at the top of the depth chart. And the team does, too. Grant thinks. “From what I’ve heard, that’s the conversation that was told to me,” Grant told WSSP radio, via Sports Radio Interviews.com. “I was told that by [former running backs coach Edgar Bennett], initially. Jerry [Fontenot, the new position coach] didn’t tell me that anything changed. Jerry told me that as of right now I’m still the leader of the backfield and the expectations won’t change. . . . I do believe there will be competition, which is fine. I’m all for that.” And if in those early days of camp the Packers decide that Grant isn’t ready to reclaim his job, there’s a chance that the Packers will decide to save their money and go with the guys who helped take the team to the top of the league in 2010.
Kuhn and free agency: John Kuhn, one of the Packers’ many unsung heroes last season, is ready for the lockout to end so he can figure out where he’ll be playing this coming season. “Free agency is what it is,” Kuhn, who likely will be an unrestricted free agent, told Packer Report on Friday. “You’ve got to entertain all offers and let teams wine and dine and court you a little bit, but at the same time, I really like it in Wisconsin. I love the fans. I love living here in Wisconsin. It’s a great place for me and my family and I like playing for the Packers. We’ve got a really good team so I’d love to come back, but at the same time, you can’t handcuff yourself. You’ve got to let free agency play itself out and see where the chips fall and get yourself a fair chance.” Kuhn, who bought a house in Green Bay last year, has been working out at a local YMCA to keep in shape since the lockout has made Lambeau Field’s workout facilities off-limits. “I’m really anxious for this to get settled and taken care of,” he said. “It’s gone on long enough now and I think everyone’s a little bit tired of it. At the same time, it is out of my control. I can’t handle it, so I roll with the punches and take things day by day and hope for the best.“