August 06, 2007
More Packers: Rodgers ready, waiting
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Unless something changes drastically in the next few weeks, it's not going to be a pretty year in the Green Bay backfield.
Running back Vernand Morency is out 2-4 weeks with a strained knee, and rookie Brandon Jackson is struggling to adjust to pocket protection. Don't be shocked if Morency's injury lingers into the beginning of the regular season – a common occurrence with the tricky sprained patellar tendon that always seems to respond to treatment differently for every player.
Jackson will likely carry the load in Morency's absence, but defenses are going to go right at him with the blitz as is the case with rookies. Noah Herron and P.J. Pope are the next options, but don't be surprised if the Packers go fishing for a veteran back if Morency doesn't improve after the first preseason game.
General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy both said last week that they were happy with their backfield rotation. But injury and inefficiency could change that fast. It's worth throwing out there that Corey Dillon is again fishing around for a team now that he doesn't have to grind through an offeseason program and the beginning of two-a-days.
It will be interesting to see how long it lasts, but third-round pick James Jones is off to a good start to camp. He has nice hands, and he's very well put together from the waist up. He should be able to take the punishment in the middle of the field. And on Thursday, he looked better than No. 2 wideout Greg Jennings. The coaching staff is very pleased with how he's coming along, and even gloating a little bit about how many draft analysts panned the pick as a reach (including yours truly though I'll add that my criticism was that I didn't like the pick of a possession receiver and Jones does look like a possession receiver).
From a physical standpoint, first-round pick Justin Harrell definitely looks the part of an athletic pass rushing defensive tackle, but his conditioning has left a lot to be desired early in camp. The torn bicep Harrell suffered last season at Tennessee has kept him from some of the most rigorous on-field work prior to training camp. The result has been Harrell having to be consistently rotated in and out of both drills and full-squad work. He was clearly winded at times on what turned out to be a very lackluster Thursday. While it was nothing that would alarm the coaching staff so early in camp, it's clearly going to take some time for Harrell to contribute.
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