Are the Packers really physically and mentally ready for this 2007 training camp. Your starting running back Vernand Morency goes down with a knee injury and will be out for two weeks. A backup tight end Tory Humphrey, a up and coming tight end ended his season on a broken ankle and broken fibula bone in his left leg. Both of the earlier injuries, the player were in shape. But there have been instances where players could not stand the heat and the length of practices because of cramps and fatigue. One instance had all the tight ends dropping out except for Donald Lee. This caused Mike McCarthy to shorten the practice about 20 plays for lack of players. Defensive tackles failed their physical tests and could not join the team. Those two players were Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly. Another promising defensive tackle is having ankle issues, that is stopping his growth at the moment. That player would be Daniel Muir, he is positioning himself to overtake Johnny Jolly on the roster.
So the loss of one body from the tight ends, will mean, Donald Lee, Bubba Franks, Zak Alcorn and Clark Harris will have more opportunities. Also with the Packers using the TE’s more in the offensive philosophy, we as fans could be looking at the tight ends that will be kept for 2007, all four of them. But there was a report being published that has Alge Crumbler the tight end from Atlanta being traded to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers and a 2nd round pick next year. Do I see that happening, NO due to Ted Thompson philosophy of building a successful football program from within, but you never know.
Morency was the other loss and will be recovering for two weeks. Again allowing the others to get extra opportunities. The good thing for Brandon Jackson, PJ Pope, Noah Herron and DeShawn Wynn they need the extra work. But for all the injures I blame them on the different training camp schedule that the Packers are using, with Wednesdays off and the longer practices.
What I find funny is the fact that Mike McCarthy said that he would be upset if any of his players came to camp out of shape. He thought the team would be raring to go, once training camp started. Enter Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly, both failed their physical test, not good if you want to continue to take the next step above an 8 – 8 football season from 2006.
This leads me to believe that Mike McCarthy really did not crunch the numbers because of all the early injuries besetting the players. Evan though McCarthy is concentrating on giving the players off on Wednesdays, due to what was accomplished during the OTA’s. Lets compare what McCarthy is trying to accomplish and what was successful back in the middle to late 90’s. That is when the Green Bay Packer machine was working to perfection with Mike Holmgren, practices lasted any where between 40 to 50 minutes based on a high tempo. For the moment practices are going thru stretches between 1 – 2 hours. Not trying to say that McCarthy’s practices are not high tempo but the length of time is crucial, that could come back to hurt McCarthy in the end. The players may get Wednesdays off, but during practices after fatigue sets in, and the heat factor, along with longer practices the players are going to be stressed which leads to injures. Like cramps from not having enough fluid in the body or a twisting of ankle, or breaking your leg. We will see after training camp is concluded but the results so far are not good.
If something could be recommended about the training camp schedule, it would be to shorten up the practices until all the players are in shape, then at that time the coaches can then lengthen the practices all they want to. Eventually the players will catch up to the day to day regime that is being used right now but at what expense with player injuries. Hopefully everyone will stay healthy from now till the pre-season game against Pittsburgh Steelers.
by Joe Blackwell