NFL Nation: Jason Spitz

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.

Seahawks may start two backup tackles

September, 25, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks may be without both starting offensive tackles this weekend, a scary thought going against star defensive linemen J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans' defense.

Right tackle Breno Giacomini did not practice Wednesday because of a knee problem. His status for Sunday’s game at Houston is unknown.

"His knee is sore,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday of Giacomini. “We have some more information to get to see where he is. He got nicked a little bit in the [Jacksonville] game.”

Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung is out for at least eight weeks with a torn ligament in a big toe. Paul McQuistan moved from guard to Okung’s tackle spot.

[+] EnlargeAlvin Bailey
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesRookie tackle Alvin Bailey saw action in Week 3, and could see even more this Sunday for Seattle.
If Giacomini doesn’t play, the Seahawks probably will start a rookie at right tackle -- either Michael Bowie or Alvin Bailey. Bowie (6-foot-4, 330 and a seventh-round draft choice from Northeastern State in Oklahoma) likely would be the starter.

Both Bowie and Bailey (6-foot-3, 320 and undrafted out of Arkansas) played extensively in the second half last weekend after the Seahawks built a big lead against Jacksonville.

“They’ve made great progress,” Carroll said of his rookie tackles. “I went back [Tuesday] night and watched the [Jacksonville] game over again just to watch those guys and see how they’re doing. They came off the ball really well and did fine in pass protection. They did a very nice job and they’re coming along quickly.”

Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable also was pleased with what he saw from his young tackles in the Jacksonville game.

“I saw some really cool stuff," Cable said. “I’m really excited about their future. I thought both those kids went in there and knocked people off the ball.

“It was a huge moment of growth for them to know they’re OK and can handle an NFL game. It’s like gold. If they have to do it, they’ll be comfortable to do what they’re capable of doing.”

But can either handle Watt?

“We don’t really focus on him,” Cable said. “We focus on doing things right.”

The backup tackles will need to do a lot of things right to stop Watt and the attacking Houston defense, which ranks No. 2 in the NFL behind the Seahawks.

"They will pressure us more than any team we play this season,” Carroll said of the Texans defense.

Carroll also was asked how he felt McQuistan was doing in Okung’s spot.

“Paul survived the first game [when Okung got hurt against the San Francisco 49ers] and played better in the second game,” Carroll said. “He was sharper on stuff and the communication was better. But that’s a big jump for Paul. He has played tackle in his history, but to play up to Russell Okung’s level is a lot to ask. He’s performed well so far.”

Seattle made a roster move Wednesday to add veteran offensive linemen in Jason Spitz, who was released by Jacksonville in August. Spitz, (6-foot-3, 300) played five seasons at Green Bay before spending the past two years with the Jaguars, but he was on injured reserve all last season.

Even if Seattle had both its starting tackles, it would be a big task to stop Watt, the NFL defensive player of the year last season with 20.5 sacks.

“He’s a fantastic talent,” Carroll said of Watt. “I don’t think anybody knew he would be this dominant, and I’ve heard Houston say they didn’t know that either. But he’s an extraordinary player. He’s faster than more guys his size, running a 4.6. That’s one thing that separates him. And the guys Houston has around him makes him even better.”

One of those guys is inside linebacker Brian Cushing, a player Carroll knows well. Cushing played for Carroll at USC.

“Cush was an outside guy for us,” Carroll said. “He’s one of the best guys we ever recruited as far as all-around ability. He’s a great, great player. It’s not a surprise to me that he ended up playing inside. He’s so instinctive and aggressive and wants to come at you. He lines up right behind Watt, so he’s a big issue for us, also.”

Injury updates: Defensive tackle Red Bryant (back spasms) did not practice Wednesday, but Carroll expects him back on the field Thursday.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (sprained ankle) did not practice, but Carroll is hopeful he can play at Houston.

“He’s going to try to go tomorrow,” Carroll said of Kearse. “He’s making a very quick recovery. We have our fingers crossed that he has a chance to play.”

Carroll said rookie fullback Spencer Ware is still out with a high-ankle sprain.

Outside linebacker Malcolm Smith returned to practice after being inactive against Jacksonville with a hamstring issue. Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill returned to practice on a limited basis.
One of my arguments against the Jaguars selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third round of the draft was that it was an area of the draft where the team could likely have upgraded its depth on the offensive line.

See the previous year, when the Jaguars found Will Rackley, the starting left guard when healthy, in the third round.

It has not taken long for the Jaguars depth on the line to come into play.

Rackley’s recovering quickly from a high ankle sprain, but is out at least another week.

Rackley’s backup, Jason Spitz, is now out for about six weeks with a foot injury.

Backup center John Estes (knee) is a having surgery, which means right guard Uche Nwaneri is the emergency third option at the spot.

The Jaguars moved right tackle Eben Britton to left guard and inserted Cameron Bradfield at right guard for their preseason opener, and that construct remains in place on the revised, unofficial depth chart released Monday in advance of preseason game No. 2 on Friday in New Orleans.

"That’s a difficult thing when you get (multiple injuries at) the same position," coach Mike Mularkey told Jaguars reporters. "We’ve got some guys that can move around though, and not totally put you in a bind. It’s not the same as having the guys.”

Drew Nowak played defensive tackle at Western Michigan and was on the team's first depth chart as a defensive tackle. He's now a backup guard.

"He played fifty plays the other night," Mularkey said Sunday. "He’s been a guard for five days. He wasn’t perfect. He had five mental errors. But you talk about a guy that has a chance to be a player. He’s smart, he’s tough, it’s just amazing what he did. There’s another one. And he can work at center.”

While Britton is versatile, the team is looking to play better on the line, and his return from a back injury that cost him most of last season was the most significant change. Now he’s not where they had planned for him to be.

The Giants might be the best defensive front the Jaguars see, but they got pushed backwards a lot.

Jacksonville’s line is a better run blocking group than it is in pass protection, and pass protection has got to be better for quarterback Blaine Gabbert to be better. Gabbert has to be better for the Jaguars to be better.

General manager Gene Smith believes in foundation building, and his early high picks were left tackle Eugene Monroe and Britton in 2009, and defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith in 2010.

He took Rackley in the third round last year, and Rackley quickly moved into the starting lineup.

But the Jaguars started out camp with Bradfield, Spitz, Estes, Daniel Baldridge and Guy Whimper as their primary backup linemen.

Spitz was originally a third-round pick in Green Bay in 2006, and Whimper originally a fourth-rounder by the Giants in 2006. The rest were undrafted.

Did Smith give the Jaguars enough depth and enough options to get better at protecting Gabbert if their first five aren’t all in place?

It’s an early second-guess, but it sure would have been nice if they’d found one more lineman to have in the mix back in the draft.

First look: Jaguars' depth chart

August, 7, 2011
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Initial depth charts are like all of them -- unofficial and not always accurate.

Still, they are teams putting players and slots on the record.

The Jaguars' release for their preseason debut is out, and a depth chart is a required part of it.

No major surprises, but here’s stuff of note:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars aren’t looking for parades or pinwheels as congratulations. But in the two years since Gene Smith took over as general manager, they’ve basically gutted the roster. And while setting about a major rebuilding project, they remained competitive with a 7-9 season and an 8-8 campaign.

After another draft and an active free-agency period, they now feel the rebuild is complete.

“There is an expectation level in this league to win, and I think having some horses makes us all smile in this building,” Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think we went out and acquired some guys for the second and third level of our defense where we talked about needing some help. ... It’s going to help us be a whole lot better.

“The pressure, the demands, that’s part of what we do, and I love that part of it. It becomes a little more enjoyable when you know you’re getting closer to being on equal footing."

Del Rio’s not buying that the Colts are slipping, and he’s not waiting for them to. The in-house expectation is that this team is capable of competing for the AFC South crown no matter what any other team in the division has going for it.

Bolstered by four upgrades among the top 12 players on defense, Jacksonville is a team that should be much improved. The Jaguars won’t be a popular pick, but they could be a surprise, emergent team.

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert and David Garrard
Phil Sears/US PresswireThe Jaguars say they will develop Blaine Gabbert (left) slowly and have David Garrard take the snaps as the team's starter.
1. Will there be a quarterback controversy? The team stands firmly with David Garrard and intends to bring first-round pick Blaine Gabbert along slowly. But Gabbert has looked great early, while Garrard tends to be inconsistent. There are bound to be times during the season when there is some pressure to make a change from inside team headquarters, not just from media and fans.

“If we ever get to the point where we think Blaine is better than Dave, that’s good for the Jaguars,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “Because I think Dave is good enough to win with; I think we can win our division with Dave Garrard at quarterback. If Blaine is better than Dave, shoot, that’s good for us.”

Del Rio and Koetter could have a complicated job managing how and when to play Gabbert if they feel he’s forcing his way into the lineup.

“I’ve got a healthy appreciation for the desire out there to make it a story,” Del Rio said. “For us, we’re about maximizing our opportunities as a football team, playing the guys who give us the best chance to win games and working on the preparation. ...

“Through the course of competition and exposure and based on health, those factors kind of take care of themselves. I don’t think we have to get ahead of the story. I think we can just let it play out, and at least we are doing so from a position of strength. There is no reason to make it dysfunctional, make it unhealthy. What purpose does that serve? It’s not going to help us win more games.”

It sounds good, but it can get complicated. Garrard’s the guy right now, and the team and the quarterback need to do a better job of making sure he gets hit far less so he can make consistently good decisions with the ball.

Factor tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Zach Miller and running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings into the mix with the receivers, and the Jaguars have sufficient weapons to complement a run-based offense. Mike Thomas, Jason Hill and Cecil Shorts could be a better three-pack of receivers than many people think.

2. How much better can the revamped defense be? If this defense doesn’t improve from 32nd against the pass, 28th overall and 27th in points allowed, Del Rio will lose his job.

The team shelled out $37 million guaranteed to three prime free agents: linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session and safety Dawan Landry. The Jags also added nickelback Drew Coleman.

That group, plus rookie defensive backs Chris Prosinski and Rod Issac, should vastly improve the defensive production and depth.

Smith wanted to build foundations early and spent his first two drafts working on the lines. Defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton should take up all kinds of blockers and create space for the two new linebackers and the underrated Daryl Smith to make a lot of impact plays.

“Jacksonville’s interior D-line really stood out,” Posluszny said about his research as a free agent. “They’ve got two studs in the middle that are very active, get to the ball a lot and certainly are going to take up a lot of blockers.”

Safety play last season was horrific, and Landry will be a significant upgrade even though he didn’t bring Ed Reed with him from Baltimore.

“I’m not looking for any grace period to assemble this defense,” Del Rio said. "Guys we’re assembling and counting on for the most part are veterans. ... We’re going to expect to play coming out of the gate as a winning football team, and defensively we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

3. Can they play well late in the season? December is a debacle for this team.

In the past three seasons in games played in December and beyond, the Jaguars are 4-11. They need to learn to finish games and seasons better. What can change it?

“I think in Week 13 or something, we had a better record than the Packers did last year,” Daryl Smith said. “They got hot, and who would have thought they would go on to win? That could be us. Why not? We have to try to stay off of that roller coaster, try to be consistent, just get better each week. Steady, steady, steady, then come late November or December, get hot.”

“I’ve been in the playoffs twice since I’ve been here and that’s been the formula. … We can’t feel like we arrived when we have a good game or played well and won a couple games.”

Del Rio says that with a more talented roster, he has to guide it to better work in the last quarter of the season.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

[+] EnlargeAusten Lane
Scott A. Miller/US PresswireJacksonville could look to Austen Lane to help solidify their defensive line.
Beat writers and fans call Austen Lane “The Bringer of Pain.” It’s funny. But he looks like a guy who will make it hard for the team to look anywhere else for its second starting defensive end. He can be a ball of fury, and that will fit right in with the tone and tempo of the rest of the defensive front.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Right tackle Eben Britton came in with a reputation as a nasty player, and the team missed him last season when he was lost with a shoulder injury. I’ve picked him as a breakout-caliber guy this season. But word is he has not been great so far. Perhaps he’s still being cautious and easing his way back, but he needs to take things up a big notch soon.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Two years ago, people were writing off center Brad Meester. But defenses were taking advantage of weak guard play to get to him. He rebounded well last season and is a guy whom coaches love as a reliable offensive line leader.
  • Knighton’s weight always will be an issue. The defensive tackle is a great player and superlikable guy. The team cannot hold his fork for him. The more he can control it, the more impact and money he will make.
  • Prosinski could well be in the opening day lineup as the free safety. He worked with the first team early in camp and might be up to a pairing with Landry in the middle of the secondary. Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox need to play better at corner, but the Jaguars will improve from the safety upgrades and from the presence of veteran nickelback Drew Coleman.
  • Looking for an underdog to root for? How about undrafted free agent Marc Schiechl? He set a Football Championship Subdivision record for sacks at the Colorado School of Mines.
  • Scotty McGee isn’t working with defensive backs regularly anymore. Can he stick as strictly a punt-return specialist? He caught 185 punts on one day of camp. And the team should move away from using Thomas in the role, although McGee is hardly the only alternative.
  • I like Miller, and the team raves about his potential. But he’s been inconsistent early in camp with too many drops. He’s got great hands, so it seems to be a focus issue.
  • Larry Hart may be in the doghouse for coming back from the lockout overweight. At defensive end, he currently ranks behind Aaron Kampman, Lane, Jeremy Mincey and Aaron Morgan.
  • Fourth-round receiver Cecil Shorts was great in camp early, and I bet the undrafted crop of wideouts has at least one NFL-caliber guy. Keep your eyes on Armon Binns, Jamar Newsome and Dontrelle Inman.
  • Third-year receiver Jarett Dillard is running well after a couple of injuries cost him the bulk of his first two seasons.
  • Watch how much better punter Matt Turk gets now that he will be a beneficiary of the Jaguars’ topflight cover guys, Montell Owens and Kassim Osgood.
  • The Jaguars may be content to use Jones-Drew, coming off a knee operation, very minimally in camp and preseason games.
  • Veteran Jason Spitz has not been on the field yet, but I think the team would like for third-round pick Will Rackley to win the open left guard spot.

XLV: Practice report VI

February, 4, 2011
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- We've already covered the extent of the Pittsburgh Steelers' injury report, so let's move straight inside the Green Bay Packers' final injury and practice report of the 2010 postseason:

To assuage any concern, it would be "shocking" if receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps) does not play in Super Bowl XLV. That's the exact word coach Mike McCarthy used when asked Friday. He listed Driver as probable on the injury report, despite a second consecutive day of limited practice.

"I would be shocked if Donald Driver does not play Sunday," McCarthy said. "He would practice today if I would let him. He tweaked it in Wednesday's practice, and frankly I just do not want to take any chances at this point. ... Donald's played a lot of football, he knows the offense, he's had a whole week of preparation with the plan last week, so this is clearly just being safe with him."

Meanwhile, McCarthy listed linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) as questionable after another day of limited participation. Frank Zombo would start if Walden can not, but McCarthy said: "We'll take Erik up the game and see what happens. I have a good feel for what he can and cannot do. Sunday, I'm going to trust him and the medical staff to make that call."

The rest of the players on the Packers' injury report -- left tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) -- were listed as probable.

XLV: Practice report IV

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
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Getting inside the Wednesday practice report for Super Bowl XLV, culling from the injury and pool reports of Wednesday's activities:

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers practiced in the unheated TCU indoor practice facility for about two hours. Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) did not practice, and coach Mike Tomlin appears to be targeting Friday as a day for Pouncey to test his ankle. The Steelers' only limited player was defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps), whose chances of playing Sunday are "fading," Tomlin said.

Green Bay Packers: Players and coaches got a nice tour of the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday. They conducted the preliminary portion of their practice -- what coach Mike McCarthy calls a "jog-thru" -- at the team hotel. Then they bussed to their designated practice facility at Southern Methodist University, where they put on their pads, and then took a short trip to Highland Park high school's indoor facility. The Packers seem likely to follow the same drill Thursday and Friday. All Packers players participated in at least a portion of Wednesday's practice. That includes linebacker Erik Walden (ankle), offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) and left tackle Chad Clifton (knees). Walden will start Sunday if healthy. "How Erik responds to this practice will be big," McCarthy said. "He practiced and took reps in every team drill. That was the high end of what we were going to try to give him today. It'll be great if he feels good tomorrow."

XLV: Practice report I

January, 26, 2011
1/26/11
5:25
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Explaining the first practice report of Super Bowl XLV bye week:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Center Maurkice Pouncey (left ankle) has the most significant injury among the six players who sat out Wednesday's practice. Doug Legursky replaced him Wednesday and would start for him if necessary. AFC North colleague James Walker broke down the injury and Pouncey's chances of playing earlier Wednesday. Also sidelined were safety Will Allen (knee), cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen), safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and tackle Jonathan Scott (ribs). Defensive end Aaron Smith, who is hoping to make it back from a triceps injury, participated on a limited basis.

Green Bay Packers: As we noted earlier this week, the Packers won't practice until Friday. But the NFL still required a practice report Wednesday for injury updating purposes. Had they practiced Wednesday, linebackers Erik Walden (ankle) and Frank Zombo (knee) would not have participated. Linebacker Desmond Bishop (ankle), tackle Chad Clifton (neck), linebacker A.J. Hawk (neck), receiver Greg Jennings (knee) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) would have been limited. Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday he did not suffer a concussion in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, as has been speculated. He was not listed on the Packers' practice report.

Packers gameday deactivations

January, 23, 2011
1/23/11
1:45
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CHICAGO -- We don’t yet have the Chicago Bears’ gameday roster decisions, but the Green Bay Packers were prompt this morning.

Safety Atari Bigby is active and so is offensive lineman Jason Spitz. Cornerback Pat Lee is inactive, meaning he isn’t a candidate to return kickoffs. Here are the rest of the Packers’ deactivations:
Getting inside the Friday practice report:

Chicago Bears: With temperatures hovering in the single digits for most of the day, the Bears wisely practiced indoors. The only limited player was safety Chris Harris (hip), who was able to participate in part of practice but is questionable for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Harris has vowed to play but hedged a bit Friday. Harris: "We'll see. I think I'll be fine. I'm hoping to be fine. I was able to get a little work in here today indoors, so we'll definitely see before the game. ... You got to be smart, you definitely have to be smart about it. If it happens to bother me to a significant extent, then absolutely, I'd come out of the game. I wouldn't play tough guy for my own gratification to say I played in the NFC Championship Game." If Harris can't play, rookie Major Wright would make his first NFL start.

Green Bay Packers: It was even colder in Green Bay on Friday, with temperatures just above 0. With the doors of their indoor facility open, the Packers practiced in 18-degree weather, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Only two players among the Packers' 53 are an injury question for this game. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) was ruled out, while offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) sat out Friday's practice and is listed as questionable.
Getting inside Thursday's practice report:

Chicago Bears: For the second consecutive day, the Bears practiced outdoors. Conditions in Lake Forest, Ill., were partly sunny and 20 degrees. Receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zack Bowman, who missed Wednesday's practice for personal reasons, were returned Thursday. Safety Chris Harris (hip) again missed practice but continues to insist he will be ready for the game. Finally, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa didn't practice. He has struggled with a knee injury during the second half of the season. ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson suggests the move was precautionary, noting Tinoisamoa also sat out last Thursday's practice.

Green Bay Packers: Practice took place in an indoor facility with the doors open, which brought the temperature to 29 degrees, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) again was the only player to sit out practice. Limited participants included defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), running back John Kuhn (shoulder), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle), offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe). Everyone but Zombo remains on track to be available Sunday.
Because we're at the Epicenter of Humanity and all, we'll be elevating to daily injury and practice reports. Let's get right to it, pulling from a variety of media sources:

Chicago Bears: Coach Lovie Smith took his team to its outdoor practice field in Lake Forest, Ill., where the conditions were partly cloudy and 24 degrees. The only player who missed practice for injury reasons was safety Chris Harris, who has a hip pointer. Harris is insisting he will be ready for this game. Receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zack Bowman also missed practice for non-injury reasons -- both are expecting babies this week, according to ESPNChicag.com's Jeff Dickerson.

Green Bay Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy had the Packers on their outdoor field, where the conditions were cloudy and 16 degrees, and also in their indoor facility -- where McCarthy said the temperature was between 29 and 32 degrees. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) was the only player who sat out practice. Limited were left tackle Chad Clifton (knees), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), running back John Kuhn (shoulder), cornerback Pat Lee (hip), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (ankle) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf). At this point, Zombo appears to be the only player on the Packers' 53-man roster who is a health question for this game.

Falcons-Packers: Final injury report

January, 14, 2011
1/14/11
11:54
AM ET
I just received the final injury reports on the Falcons and Packers for Saturday night’s playoff game. Let’s take a look.

Atlanta. Cornerback Brian Williams (knee) is doubtful and did not practice all week. That means Christopher Owens likely will work as the nickel back. Atlanta has six other guys on the injury report and they all are listed as questionable. They are defensive end John Abraham (groin), defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder), safety Thomas DeCoud (ankle), linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee), center Todd McClure (ankle) and receiver Roddy White (knee). But I think you’ll see all six of those guys playing Saturday. They all went through the full practice Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday.

Green Bay. The Packers are listing safety Atari Bigby (groin), fullback Korey Hall and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) as questionable, and have declared linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) as out. They have eight other guys on the injury report, but all of those are listed as probable.

Friday injury report: Packers-Falcons

January, 14, 2011
1/14/11
11:42
AM ET
Getting inside the Friday injury report a day before Packers-Falcons:

Green Bay Packers: Linebacker Frank Zombo has been declared out. Safety Atari Bigby (groin) is questionable but has a good chance to be available. Offensive lineman Jason Spitz would have returned to practice Friday if the Packers had held one, and for that reason he is listed as questionable. Fullback Korey Hall (knee) is questionable, but seems to have a decent chance of being available. All other members of the 53-man roster should be available.

Atlanta Falcons: Cornerback Brian Williams (knee) is doubtful. The Falcons listed six players as questionable, but all of them participated in Friday's practice and appear on track to be available Saturday.

NFC North injury report

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
5:59
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Updating the injury situations for this weekend’s pair of division playoff games:

Chicago Bears: Cornerback Charles Tillman didn’t practice Wednesday because of an illness. All other players participated in at least a portion of practice.

Seattle Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (concussion) didn't practice and was the only player listed on the Seahawks injury report. Coach Pete Carroll told Chicago-area media that Tatupu is on track to play Sunday.

Green Bay Packers: Two players missed practice Wednesday: Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf). The guess is that neither will be available Saturday night. Safety Atari Bigby (groin) participated on a limited basis and has a chance to play. The Packers don’t seem to have any other significant injury concerns.

Atlanta Falcons: The only player who sat out practice was cornerback Brian Williams (knee). My NFC South colleague Pat Yasinskas suggests that most everyone else on the roster is healthy.

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