Starter Pack: Freeman an unknown again

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The first time the Packers faced Josh Freeman, they didn’t know what to expect.

It was back in 2009, and Freeman was making his first NFL start for an 0-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. In one of the more shocking performances of that season, Freeman led a 38-28 upset by throwing three touchdowns.

It looked like the start of a promising career.

Four years later, the Packers are once again preparing to face Freeman on Sunday night and yet again, they’re probably not quite sure what to expect.

This time, Freeman will start for the Minnesota Vikings. It will be just his second start in purple after he was released in an ugly divorce with the Buccaneers. His first start for the Vikings, less than two weeks after he arrived in Minnesota, was a disaster. He threw 30 incompletions in 53 attempts in a 23-7 loss to the previously winless New York Giants on Monday night.

The Vikings probably threw Freeman in too soon, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday that he will stick with Freeman.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers won’t have much to go on to prepare for the Vikings with Freeman at the helm. In fact, before Monday night’s game against the Giants, he had nothing to go on. Earlier on Monday, Capers said he planned to be glued to the TV.

“I’ll be interested watching the game tonight,” Capers said Monday. “That will be the only exposure we’ll see of Freeman. We’ll have to do a good job of seeing -- obviously, we know what they’ve done every game this season, but they’ve had different quarterback combinations with [Christian] Ponder and [Matt] Cassel and now Freeman, so it’ll be interesting to see how they change their attack tonight with Freeman. He hadn’t been with him a long time, so I wouldn’t think it would be too complicated.”

Elsewhere:
  • The news on tight end Jermichael Finley’s neck injury continued to come back positive. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Finley will not need surgery and could resume his playing career at a time to be determined later.
  • Also in our ESPN.com coverage, we looked at some of the issues Finley, his doctors and the Packers doctors will have to consider before deciding whether he should return to the field. We pondered what the conversation might be like if quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Vikings receiver Greg Jennings, the former Packers player who criticized Rodgers this summer, bump into each other on Sunday and analyzed the snap counts from Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns in our weekly playing-time breakdown. And finally, you can see where the Packers sit in the ESPN Power Rankings.
  • The Packers made a roster move on Tuesday, when they re-signed running back Michael Hill to the practice squad. Hill had been on the active roster but was released on Friday, when the Packers claimed receiver Chris Harper off waivers. To make room for Hill, the Packers cut practice squad receiver/kick returner Reggie Dunn for the second time this season.
  • Donald Driver, the Packers' career receiving leader who retired after last season, made an appearance on ABC’s "Good Morning America" to promote his new book, "Driven." You can watch an excerpt of that appearance.
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, you can listen to Rodgers’ weekly radio show from 540 ESPN Milwaukee.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty had a scouting report on the Vikings.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein talked to a doctor who said he would be surprised if Finley were able to return to the NFL without surgery, and Bob McGinn had a scouting report on the Vikings.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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