Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jones and Kuhn Staying Home

Free agency continues to be fast and furious.  Yesterday brought some good news with the re-signing of receiver James Jones and fullback John Kuhn.  Jones' return is particularly welcome news.  I thought he was all but gone, but he's back in what is shaping up to be a nasty receiving corps.  The return of all 5 WRs, plus the addition of rookie Randall Cobb, who was apparently lighting it up in practice, and the return of Jermichael Finley, should make the Packers passing game a juggernaut.

Cobb feels to me like he could have a similar impact as the Vikings' Percy Harvin, hopefully without the migraines.  Harvin had speed, quickness, and hands that enabled him to make an immediate impact and create mis-matches as DBs lined up against their bigger receivers.  I'm hoping Cobb may also be able to finally add some punch to our return game.

So far, the Packers have lost five players to free agency, including DE Cullen Jenkins (Philadelphia), guards Daryn Colledge (Arizona) and Jason Spitz (Jacksonville), RB Brandon Jackson (Cleveland) and FB Korey Hall (New Orleans).  Jenkins and Colledge are the two most concerning losses.  Replacing Jenkins worries me less.  He's 30 and has been getting injured more and more often the last few years.  Plus, with some potentially promising young DEs, including Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn, they had some backfill.

Colledge, though un-spectacular has been steady.  And with Spitz leaving as well, their depth at offensive guard is shallow.  First-round draft pick Derek Sherrod has been practicing with the first team offense at Colledge's left guard position, and is the presumptive opening day starter -- even though he played exclusively at the left tackle position in college.  But the Packers lack many other options, besides T.J. Lang and Nick McDonald, and Sherrod sounds confident he can pick up the new role.

Not surprisingly, given Thompson's philosophy, the Packers haven't made any splashy free agency moves.  But a major difference for the Packers is the number of players they will have returning from IR.  Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett are all impact players who should be back in the starting line-up week 1.  If these were all new players we'd signed via free agency, we'd all be pretty psyched.  So I don't necessarily expect or covet any big free agent signings in the next few weeks.  Instead, I look forward to seeing which young players will emerge as this year's B.J. Raji or Clay Matthews.

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