Saturday, August 16, 2008
Black and Blue all over: Tough road for Packers' top pick
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Through no fault of his own, the Green Bay Packers' top draft choice is having a hard time finding room for himself on a crowded playing field.
Jordy Nelson has proved an intriguing prospect on the practice field, combining a tight end's body with a receiver's speed. But the No. 36 overall pick of the draft is stuck behind at least three veterans -- Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones -- while fighting Ruvell Martin for the No. 4 job.
The Packers use plenty of multi-receiver sets, and their No. 4 receiver gets on the field quite a bit. But Martin has had a good training camp as well and at 6-foot-4 is a big target in the red zone.
Nelson had two receptions in the Packers' preseason opener, while also returning four punts for 31 yards; he'll get another opportunity to impress the coaching staff in Saturday night's game at San Francisco. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines the obstacles Nelson is facing to get on the field.
With three NFC North teams scheduled for preseason action Saturday night, here is a tour around the division:
- Nelson isn't the only rookie buried on the Packers' depth chart, writes Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Fourth-round offensive lineman Josh Sitton is the only rookie with a legitimate chance to start.
- The Press-Gazette offers five things to watch for during tonight's game, most notably whether Matt Flynn can overtake Brian Brohm for the No. 2 quarterback job.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times and David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune offer previews of the Bears' game Saturday night at Seattle. Topic No. 1 in Chicagoland: Whether Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton can separate themselves in the team's quarterback derby. Coach Lovie Smith has said the competition will go down to the wire, but it would still be nice to see one of the contestants take charge before then.
- After spending the offseason trying to improve their pass defense, the Minnesota Vikings gave up four touchdown passes in last week's preseason opener against Seattle. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune points out the Vikings used only 15 of the 50 coverages in their playbook. At the same time, the team wants to have a better showing Saturday night at Baltimore.
- Linebacker Buster Davis, whose aggressiveness nearly incited a fight with Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna last week, will be battling for a roster spot Sunday night at Cincinnati, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.