NFL Nation: Josh Sitton

Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers begin their offseason program on Tuesday, which means most -- if not all of the players -- will return to town today.

Nothing is mandatory, but nearly a third of their players have workout bonuses in their contracts. While it may vary from deal to deal, typically players must participate in 80 to 90 percent of the offseason program in order to collect their bonuses.

A total of 21 players have bonuses tied to the offseason workout program. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Information contract data, the Packers have the highest potential payout on workout bonuses in the NFL this offseason at $4.3 million.

That is due in part because they have six players who rank among the top 20 in workout bonuses this year, including three players -- quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Sam Shields -- who are tied for the second-largest workout bonus in the league this offseason at $500,000. Only New York Jets tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson has a larger workout bonus at $750,000.

Other Packers who rank among the top 20 are safety Morgan Burnett, guard Josh Sitton and cornerback Tramon Williams.

Even injured players who may not be able to participate in the workouts, such as Matthews (who is recovering from thumb surgery), can collect their workout bonuses by reporting to Lambeau Field and taking part in whatever exercises they can.

Per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement of 2011, the offseason program can last no more than 10 weeks with no more than four workouts per week, and none on the weekends. Full-contact practices are not allowed.

The first phase is limited to strength training and conditioning. In the second phase, coaches are allowed to be on the field with players doing individual and position drills without helmets. The third phase includes organized team activities (OTAs) and a minicamp (the only mandatory part of the offseason program).

In the OTA/minicamp portion, helmets but no pads except for protective knee and elbow pads are allowed. Full team (11-on-11) drills are allowed, but live contract drills between offensive and defensive linemen or receivers and defensive backs is prohibited.

The full Packers' offseason schedule can be found here.
The day after the Green Bay Packers' season ended, Bryan Bulaga was asked whether it would be much of an adjustment if he had to move back to right tackle in 2014.

Bulaga chuckled and said: "I didn't even get a full year at left tackle, more like two months."

In terms of actual live practice, it was more like two weeks.

Bulaga
Bulaga injured his knee during the annual Family Night scrimmage on Aug. 3 and missed the entire 2013 season. Combine that with the fact that rookie David Bakhtiari was more than just OK in Bulaga's place at left tackle last season, and it made sense that Bulaga would move back to the right side, where he started from 2010-2012.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed that will be his plan heading into this season. He told WBAY-TV as much at the NFL annual meetings.

McCarthy said he informed Bulaga recently of his decision. Bulaga, a former first-round draft pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

A year ago, McCarthy moved Bulaga to left tackle as part of a massive offensive line overhaul that also included guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton switching sides.

"I think that's part of my game that I like; I feel like I can go back and forth," Bulaga said in January.

"I felt pretty comfortable [at left tackle] at the time I got hurt in the Family Night. I felt pretty good about where I was at."

With Bakhtiari set to stay at left tackle and Bulaga back on the right side, it leaves another former first-round pick, Derek Sherrod, as a possible swing tackle. That role had been occupied last season by Marshall Newhouse, who signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he suffered in 2011. After missing all of the 2012 season, he was on the roster for the final seven games in 2013, but played only six snaps on offense.

The Packers also have Don Barclay, who started all but two games at right tackle last season. Barclay could end up moving inside to compete with JC Tretter for the starting center job. The Packers lost last season's starter, Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed a free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ted Thompson did not travel to Orlando, Fla., for this week's annual meetings, but wherever he is, the Green Bay Packers general manager likely pleased with Monday's developments.

The NFL awarded the Packers a pair of compensatory draft picks, one in the third round (No. 98 overall) and one in the fifth (No. 176). The announcement was made at the league's annual meetings, where the Packers were represented by team president Mark Murphy, coach Mike McCarthy and several other front office staff members.

Murphy told reporters at the meetings that Thompson is fine and working but could not travel. Thompson typically leaves the three-day meetings a day early to resume his pre-draft preparations.

Although the exact formula for awarding additional picks isn't known, not even to the teams themselves, it is based on the net losses in free agency from the previous offseason with contracts, playing time and productivity factored in.

Thompson did not sign any free agents in 2013 but lost receiver Greg Jennings (who signed with the Minnesota Vikings) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (Indianapolis Colts). The third-round pick was for losing Jennings and the fifth rounder for Walden.

The 98th overall selection represents the Packers' highest compensatory pick since 1999, when they used one at No. 94 overall to select defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt.

With the two additional picks, the Packers will have nine selections in the upcoming draft on May 8-10. They own their original picks in each round, beginning with No. 21 overall, plus the two compensatory selections.

Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

Among the players Thompson has drafted with compensatory picks in recent years were: guard Josh Sitton (fourth round, 2008), cornerback Davon House (fourth round, 2011), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (fourth round, 2012) and defensive end Josh Boyd (fifth round, 2013).
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No matter where Bryan Bulaga plays, regardless of whether David Bakhtiari remains at left tackle and whoever ends up playing center, the Green Bay Packers have more stability on their offensive line than they did last offseason.

Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari
Bulaga
It was nearly a year ago that coach Mike McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen revamped the line by changing positions for four of the five starters. Bulaga and Josh Sitton switched from right tackle and right guard, respectively, to the left side. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse was moved to the right side (where he failed to beat out Don Barclay), and left guard T.J. Lang moved to right guard.

Only center Evan Dietrich-Smith remained in his regular spot.

This season, perhaps only the center position is up in the air with Dietrich-Smith scheduled to be a free agent next month.

It all depends on where the Packers decide to play Bulaga, who missed all of last season after he sustained a knee injury last August in training camp.

Although McCarthy said last week at the NFL scouting combine that he had not finalized his plans for Bulaga, he later told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Bakhtiari performed well enough last season as a rookie that the Packers appear to be set to keep him at left tackle.

“If you look at our depth chart right now this is the best group of offensive linemen from a depth standpoint that we’ve had in my time in Green Bay,” said McCarthy, who is entering his ninth season as head coach. “There’s a lot of good things to build off of with our offense.”

Moving Bulaga back to the right side would not be a major adjustment. He excelled at right tackle from 2010-12 and never even made it to his first preseason game as a left tackle. Bulaga spent most of the season rehabbing his knee in Florida but is expected to return to Green Bay for the offseason program in April.

“He’s on time and he’s hit his targets,” McCarthy said of Bulaga’s rehab. “But as I’ve told Bryan when he left in the exit interview [after the season], I’ll be in touch with him to let him know what our plan is whether it’s the left side or the right side.”

A potential change at center would not impact any of the other projected offensive line starters. Lang is not a candidate to move to center even though he filled in there for Dietrich-Smith for parts of two games last season.

The only other possible starting center on the Packers’ roster is JC Tretter, a fourth-round pick last year who did not play at all as a rookie after sustaining an ankle injury in the offseason.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
6:30
PM ET
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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 16 regular-season games plus the NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers were on the field for 1,185 offensive snaps, according to playing time totals kept by the NFL.

Only one player took them all.

Sitton
Josh Sitton played every snap at his new position, left guard, on the way to the best season of his six-year pro career. Sitton made the switch from right guard and was a second-team All-Pro selection.

A total of 30 players took at least one snap on offense (including a pair of defensive linemen -- Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji). In 2012, the Packers used 29 players on offense.

Six players -- Sitton, right guard T.J. Lang, left tackle David Bakhtiari, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Andrew Quarless -- played on offense in every game.

Here are the total snap counts on offense with playing-time percentages in parenthesis (the defense and special teams breakdowns are coming):

Quarterbacks: Offensive line:
  • Josh Sitton 1,185 (100 percent)
  • David Bakthtiari 1,171 (98.8 percent)
  • T.J. Lang 1,156 (97.6 percent)
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith 1,118 (94.3 percent)
  • Don Barclay 1,027 (86.7 percent)
  • Marshall Newhouse 256 (21.6 percent)
  • Lane Taylor 14 (1.2 percent)
  • Derek Sherrod 6 (0.5 percent)
Receivers: Running backs: Tight ends:

Green Bay Packers season wrap-up

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
2:00
PM ET

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 13
Preseason Power Ranking: 5

Biggest surprise: How many people would have believed the Packers could win the NFC North without the services of Aaron Rodgers for seven-plus games? Maybe it was an indictment on the rest of the division but the fact that the Packers used four different starting quarterbacks this season and went 2-5-1 after Rodgers broke his collarbone on Nov. 4, and they still won the division by beating the Chicago Bears in Week 17, when Rodgers returned, could not have been expected. The saga of when Rodgers would return from his injury dominated the second half of the season.

Biggest disappointment: When general manager Ted Thompson drafted Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick in April, he thought he was getting a defensive lineman who could play on all three downs and would be equally effective against the run and rushing the quarterback. In training camp, Jones looked the part. He stood out in practices, but when it came time to produce, he couldn't deliver. By the end of the season, Jones' playing time was reduced to almost nothing. Fifth-round pick Josh Boyd was playing more snaps than Jones late in the year. Jones finished with 3.5 sacks but two came in one game.

Biggest need: The Packers have many, and they're most on the defensive side of the ball. Their entire starting defensive line -- B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly -- will be unrestricted free agents. Other than A.J. Hawk, they are weak at inside linebacker. And their safety play was atrocious at times. They don't just need contributors; they need playmakers on that side of the ball. Other than outside linebacker Clay Matthews and perhaps cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, they didn't have many big-play players on defense. Their needs are so great that Thompson, the free-agent averse GM, might not be able to rely solely on the draft to fill them all.

Team MVP: Rodgers is clearly the Packers' most important player, but this honor should go to someone who played the majority of the season. In that case, it has to be running back Eddie Lacy. It has to be rare for a rookie to be a team's MVP, but then again the second-round draft pick from Alabama proved to be a rare talent. Despite missing nearly two full games because of a concussion and half of another game because a sprained ankle, Lacy finished eighth in the league in rushing with 1,178 yards (a Packers' rookie record) and had the second-most rushing touchdowns with 11.

 
Ice BowlAP PhotoSunday's game at Lambeau is drawing comparisons to the Packers' 1967 "Ice Bowl" game.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two straight days of outdoor practices and a weather forecast that keeps getting worse has some of the Green Bay Packers' toughest players considering a wardrobe change.

Although forecasts for Sunday's NFC wild-card game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field vary -- from a high of 4 degrees and a low of minus-23 by The Weather Channel to a high of 1 degree and a low of minus-21 by the National Weather Service -- everyone can agree on one thing.

“I think once it gets below zero, cold is just cold,” Packers left guard Josh Sitton said Friday.

A day after rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari said he and the rest of the offensive linemen would go sleeveless as usual, the group apparently had second thoughts on Friday.

“The weather forecast is pretty damned cold,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “Probably a game-time decision. I’ve never worn them in my life, but I don’t want to get frostbite. We’ll see what happens.”

Sitton said he wore sleeves in practice on Friday after not wearing them on Thursday and noticed a difference. Bakhtiari said he and Sitton had talked previously about wearing sleeves in cold weather, but always considered going sleeveless to be an unwritten rule of the offensive lineman brotherhood.

“I said [to Bakhtiari], if I’m wearing sleeves, then you’re wearing sleeves,” Sitton said. “I don’t want to be the only one with sleeves on. We’ll see. I mean if it’s so cold that I need sleeves, I’m putting sleeves on. I don’t really care what anybody thinks of me toughness-wise.”

One player who said he definitely would not wear long sleeves was running back Eddie Lacy. That doesn’t mean the Louisiana native likes the cold weather. He just doesn’t want to risk putting anything on his body that would hamper his ability to hold on to the football.

“I just feel like if I had sleeves, I might fumble or something like that,” Lacy said. “I’m just staying with no sleeves. I’m comfortable that way.”

In advance of what could be one of the coldest games in team history -- perhaps even rivaling the minus-13 temperature from the 1967 Ice Bowl, the Packers announced on Friday that all fans at Lambeau Field will be allowed two free hot cocoa or coffee drinks during the game. The Packers also said they will allow fans to bring in blankets and unzipped sleeping bags.

“With the forecast predicting very cold temperatures this Sunday, we’re happy to offer our fans a way to warm up while attending the game,” Packers president Mark Murphy said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Josh Sitton wasn't crazy about moving from right guard to left guard in the offseason.

Sitton
In the end, it turned out to be the best move of his career. In his sixth NFL season, the stalwart of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line was named a second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press on Friday.

"At first I was a little skeptical for a while,” Sitton said. “It took really a few games into the season to get used to playing over there. We started back in April or May or whatever it was. It took longer than I thought to get used to, but it's definitely worked out and props to the coaches for making that switch."

The honor came a week after Sitton was denied a second-straight Pro Bowl appearance.

“It's cool, man,” he said. “I've been working my butt off for a long time, so it's something that has been a goal of mine for the last few years, so I'm definitely proud of myself and thanks to everyone who voted, I do appreciate it.”

Running back Eddie Lacy, who rushed for a team rookie record of 1,178 yards, joined Sitton on the AP's second-team All-Pro list.

“I just found out about that like 10 minutes ago,” Lacy said after practice on Friday. “I think it's pretty cool, man. I don't know too much to say about it.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On one side of the Green Bay Packers' locker room, cornerback Tramon Williams pulled a stocking cap over his head and slipped into a pair of warm boots.

At another section of lockers, rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari wore nothing heavier than a sweatshirt -- unzipped.

Take a guess at where each player falls on the sleeves versus no sleeves debate in cold-weather football.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Jarrett Bush
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsWhen the weather turns frigid, some Packers like Jarrett Bush, 24, opt for sleeves, while some like Datone Jones, 95, go without.
Although the forecast keeps getting worse for Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field, players on the no-sleeve side of the argument do not appear to be budging, despite the latest from The Weather Channel that indicates the high temperature won’t get above zero, and the low could be close to 20-below.

“I’ll never wear sleeves,” said Bakhtiari, a northern California native.

Why not?

“It’s kind of like the norm. That’s the best way to describe it.”

However, Bakhtiari did say that there have been a couple of times this season when he and fellow offensive lineman Josh Sitton pondered it. But they kept coming back to the same point.

“You don’t wear sleeves,” Bakhtiari said.

Williams, on the other hand (or arm), has been wearing sleeves all season. If the offensive linemen want to look tough, that’s fine with him, but he wants no part of that.

“Whatever makes them play the best, they need to go with or without,” he said.

Maybe players get wise with age, because veteran defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, 34, used to be a no-sleeve guy. That was until the 2007 NFC championship game against the New York Giants, when it was minus-1 at kickoff.

“Definitely sleeves; I’m wearing sleeves, man,” Pickett said. “I tried the no-sleeves thing [against the Giants], and it took me three days to thaw out. I’m wearing sleeves.”

Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt, a former quarterback with the Buffalo Bills from 1995-2003, had a message for young players on the team.

“Don’t try to be a hero,” Van Pelt said. “If you need to wear sleeves, wear sleeves. Nobody’s going to call you soft.”

Unless you’re an offensive linemen, apparently, because those guys refuse to cover up.

“For me, I put my helmet on, go to work,” said Packers offensive line coach James Campen, who played center in Green Bay from 1989-93. “Weather was irrelevant to me. It didn’t bother me.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy took practice outside for about an hour on Thursday, when the temperature in Green Bay was in the single digits. He put the players through ball-handling drills in order to get used to how the football will feel in the cold.

Both the practice field and Lambeau Field have an elaborate underground heating system to keep the playing surface from becoming an ice rink, There’s no snow in the forecast, either, so footing should not be an issue, and winds aren't expected to be overly strong.

The usual array of gloves, insulated pockets, hand warmers and sideline heaters will be available to the players on Sunday. But that stuff can help only so much in sub-zero conditions.

Even with his sleeves and other assorted accessories, Williams remembers the shock of the cold in the NFC championship game against the Giants.

“The first drive, I froze to death,” he said. “I ain’t going to lie to you. I froze to death. But once I got thawed out ... got in front of the heaters and things like that when I came back on the sideline, I was good for the rest of the game.”

All-NFC North: Green Bay Packers

January, 2, 2014
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

In any other year, it’s hard to imagine the Green Bay Packers having only one offensive player on the All-NFC North team.

But when Aaron Rodgers misses nearly half the season with a broken collarbone, and the Packers use three different backup quarterbacks behind him, it’s safe to say this isn’t like any other season.

One constant, however, was guard Josh Sitton. A Pro Bowl selection at right guard last season, Sitton made the switch to left guard in the offseason and has performed just as well, if not better, despite not getting voted back into the Pro Bowl.

An argument could have been made for running back Eddie Lacy, who became the Packers’ first rookie since 1971 to rush for 1,000 yards. He wasn’t going to edge Adrian Peterson, but it should have been a close call between him and Matt Forte for the other running back spot. (Sorry, John Kuhn, there’s no place for a fullback on the all-division team these days.)

On the defensive side of the ball, Clay Matthews remained one of the division’s biggest impact players despite missing five games because of a broken thumb. But the biggest surprise was the development of second-year defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who was the Packers’ best interior pass-rusher. Cornerback Sam Shields' emergence as the team’s top cover cornerback will earn him a big paycheck in free agency, whether it’s from the Packers or another team.

No one kicks in more difficult conditions than the Packers’ specialists, which makes their selections even more impressive. Few are better at pinning teams inside the 20 than punter Tim Masthay, and kicker Mason Crosby put the demons of his dismal 2012 season behind him and had a career year.

Pro Bowl selections: Green Bay Packers

December, 27, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The headline may be a little misleading. The Green Bay Packers had no one selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2005.

As difficult as this season has been, it’s nowhere near the dismal 4-12 year of 2005.

The Packers, at 7-7-1, will win the NFC North if they beat the Chicago Bears in the regular-season finale on Sunday at Soldier Field.

But perhaps the Pro Bowl voters -- a combination of the fans, coaches and players -- put the Packers out of their minds when quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4.

The closest thing the Packers had to a Pro Bowler when the selections were announced Friday was rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who was named a first alternate. Lacy might be the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has 1,112 yards rushing, which is good for seventh in the NFL despite him missing nearly two full games because of injuries.

Seven other Packers also were named alternates. They were: Rodgers, fullback John Kuhn, guard Josh Sitton, linebacker Clay Matthews, receiver Jordy Nelson and cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams.

Sitton might be the biggest snub. He made the Pro Bowl last year at right guard and has played perhaps even better this year after making the switch to left guard.

Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.
Aaron RodgersMike McGinnis/Getty ImagesIn his first game back from injury, the Packers have to find a way to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his feet.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone has healed to the point where the Green Bay Packers feel comfortable putting their franchise quarterback back on the field.

On Thursday, when he announced Rodgers would start Sunday’s regular-season finale at the Chicago Bears, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said: “It’s time to play football.”

But neither McCarthy nor Rodgers would discuss the medical specifics of what led them to this decision when only a week earlier, it was not time.

Even if team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie was able to assure them that Rodgers was no more susceptible to the injury than he was before -- and even that was not known -- the Packers would rather not find out how much punishment the quarterback’s collarbone can withstand. In order for that to happen, those charged with protecting Rodgers -- his offensive line, tight ends, running backs and even McCarthy with his play calling -- will need to be on high alert in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

“No question, there’s definitely an added urgency to keeping Aaron clean in the pocket,” said Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt, whose players are often charged with picking up blitzing defenders. “There’s no question. I don’t think we need to coach our guys any differently. Their responsibilities or who they have, that’s all game-planned during the week and prepped on their part, but yeah, I’m sure they’re feeling a little more pressure to keep him clean, which is understandable, obviously.”

Despite the rules designed to protect quarterbacks, Rodgers doesn’t play in a bubble. He’s going to get hit. Perhaps the better question is what kind of hits can he take and what kind would be most problematic for his collarbone?

Surprising as it may be, a blindside hit -- like the kind backup quarterback Matt Flynn took from Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore in the Dec. 8 game at Lambeau Field -- might not be the most dangerous. Sure, Flynn had no time to brace himself for Moore because he didn’t see him, but the fact that Moore didn’t drive him into the ground with all of his force made the hit less dangerous.

“The most vulnerable situation is when there’s compression, such as with [Rodgers’] first injury,” said ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell, a physical therapist who is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. “That doesn’t mean he couldn’t absorb that, but there’s no way to know for sure.”

Rodgers broke his left collarbone on Nov. 4 when Bears defensive end Shea McClellin sacked him and then landed on Rodgers with all of his body weight. According to Bell, the combination of Rodgers landing on the ground with one shoulder and McClellin’s weight on his other likely caused his collarbone to buckle.

Protecting Rodgers in the pocket is one thing, but he also likes to get outside and make improvisational plays. He was rolling out to his right when McClellin hit him.

“He can make plays with his feet, he can make throws that most quarterbacks in this league can’t make,” Packers left guard Josh Sitton said. “Sometimes, you look at some of his throws, you’re like, ‘Where the hell is he throwing the ball?’ And it’s a catch somehow. He’s a special player and we’re happy to have him back.”

The task now is keeping him healthy. Maybe McCarthy will do that by using a variety of quick throws and three-step drops rather than five- and seven-step drops that could leave Rodgers more vulnerable to getting hit.

Rodgers was sacked 18 times in the first seven-plus games of the season. His’ replacements -- Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Flynn -- were sacked 24 times in seven-plus games.

“I’m sure that Aaron’s going to get hit; he’s going to get knocked down at some point,” Van Pelt said. “That’s just the way the football game goes. But those guys I’m sure have a little added urgency to keep him clean.”

At other times while he was recovering from his injury, Rodgers said there are things the equipment and medical staffs can do to add protection to his collarbone area. But on Thursday, he would not say whether he would use any.

Protecting Rodgers from dangerous hits is critical, but it’s also important for Rodgers to take a hit so that he knows his collarbone can withstand it.

“I’m sure that every guy that comes back when they first step onto the field there’s some emotional hurdles that they need to get over,” Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said. “But I think that’s everyone, and I think that’s all injuries. But other than that, it’s up to the athlete to get through that.”

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