Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Packers Season Outlook

Larry Weisman of USA Today writes a good article on the outlook for the Packers this season. Projections have us no better than 2nd in the division and no worse than 3rd. There are a lot of question marks this year at TE, S, FB and RB espeically. The short breakdown on positions is:

Quarterback: Favre, the future Hall of Famer, returns for his 17th season. He had surgery on his ankle but should be fully operational by training camp. Backup Aaron Rodgers, coming off a foot injury, is a question mark for camp.

Running back: Vernand Morency is the top candidate to replace the departed Ahman Green as the starter, but the Packers are high on second-round pick Brandon Jackson. Eight other inexperienced backs on the roster will also get a look. Fullback is wide open with William Henderson gone, and Brandon Miree the nominal No.1.

Wide receiver: Donald Driver and Favre enjoy a terrific rapport, but Driver's the only consistent threat. Robert Ferguson goes into his seventh season with career stats (116 catches for 1,577 yards, 12 TDs) often duplicated in one year by the best players. Greg Jennings showed great skills in his first season, and rookie David Clowney will get a look.

Tight end: Bubba Franks is a declining player coming off a poor season, and Donald Lee should start.

Offensive line: Once a formidable group, this unit is now so-so and young in the interior. Tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, both entering their eighth seasons, have size and savvy. Center Scott Wells keeps growing into the position and has good feet and the ability to lead running plays to the outside. Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz are the guards.

Defensive line: Left end Aaron Kampman is the best of the bunch. The right side features emerging Cullen Jenkins with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila likely returning to a role as pass-rush specialist. Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams should start inside, but the Packers want to find a role for surprise No.1 pick Justin Harrell.

Linebacker: Probably the team's strength with starters A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga. All of these guys can run and hit. Competition in training camp will be for the backup spots.

Secondary: Starting corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson are fine, but there are questions after that. Newcomer Frank Walker is the likely nickel back. Marquand Manuel played poorly at strong safety last year after coming over from Seattle but may hang on alongside Nick Collins.

Special teams: Kicking game — iffy. Returners — up for grabs. Kicker Dave Rayner will battle rookie Mason Crosby. Punter Jon Ryan will duel David Lonie. Feel the excitement. Neither Woodson (punts) nor Morency (kickoffs) will be in those roles again. Koren Robinson is a Pro Bowl-caliber return man but remains under NFL suspension.

Coaching staff: Mike McCarthy goes into his second season with much of the roster intact. Whether that's good or bad has been the subject of intense debate around Green Bay. With such a young team, this is a great teaching opportunity. But fans (and Favre) want to win now. Joe Philbin, who coached the offensive line last year and tight ends the year before that, is the offensive coordinator. He's a first-timer in this role. Bob Sanders runs the defense for a second year.

Read more on the Packers outlook here:

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