Combine Blog: defensive lineman studies up

February 23rd, 2013 at 1:35 pm by under Uncategorized

Ryan Pickett won’t last forever. One of the elder statesmen on the Packers, Pickett is coming off one of his best seasons helping anchor Green Bay’s 3-4 defensive line. You can always use more big people on your team, the Packers may look to this year’s draft to find new pieces for their defensive line.

Penn State defensive tackle Jordan was a first-team All-Big Ten selection his senior year. He played in a 4-3 system in college, but is prepared to switch over to a new scheme in the pros.

What kind of player are you?

A high motor, relentless play. I’m a guy that will make a play down the field even though I’m a defensive tackle. I’m a guy that plays well through run and pass. I don’t feel like I’m strictly a pass-rusher or strictly a run-stopper. I feel I can do both and be pretty effective at both of them.

What do you think about being a 3-4 defensive linemen, it’s not a glamorous job?

I’m fine with it. It’s still a challenge trying to eat up those blocks. It’s something that’s unseen, but your coaches and teammates know what you do.

Have you studied film to get ready for interviews with teams that play a 3-4 defense?

You gotta have a good sense of how to answer certain questions truthfully and honestly. It’s something you’ve got to get used to. I told them I played 5-tech [5-technique, a defensive line position that typically lines up directly across from an offensive tackle, a normal spot for 3-4 defensive ends to line up] in college, I can play in a 3-4 as a 5-tech, it wouldn’t be anything new to me.

Converted quarterback an option at tight end

February 23rd, 2013 at 9:07 am by under Sports

Stop me if this sounds familiar: a former quarterback finds a new position in the SEC and ends up an early round pick in the NFL. That could cover quite a few players, including recently Randall Cobb, Packers receiver and former University of Kentucky quarterback.

Green Bay has a decision to make with tight end Jermichael Finley, they could elect to let the talented pass-catcher walk with one season remaining on a two-year contract. If that happens, or if the Packers still feel they’re in the market for a similarly athletic tight end, Florida early-entrant Jordan Reed could be an intriguing choice.

Reed says he had a formal interview with the Packers, he met several coaches, and it went well. He was recruited to the Gators as a quarterback, but at 6’3, 243 pounds, make the switch to tight end.

What sets him apart from other tight ends?

I feel like I can bring a lot to the table. I feel like I’m athletic, can run good routes and create mismatches for the offense. I feel like I can play a lot of multiple positions on offense, whether it be the F position or even the Y. With some good coaching and time, I feel like I can be a good blocker as well. Also I’m athletic so I can play special teams and do whatever the team asks me to do.

What NFL player does he compare his own game to?

Definitely Aaron Hernandez, I’m the type of player he is. Very athletic, can create mismatches, run good routes and use my athleticism to my advantage.

Why did he leave college early for the NFL?

I was close to my dream, I felt like I could reach it right now. It’s been my dream since I was a young guy to be able to go to the NFL and play for a team, go to the Combine. I had the opportunity so I took it.

What does he think of the Packers?

They’re a great team, great organization, got a great quarterback, great coach, I’d love to play for the Packers and help them out.

Packers legacy Stills competitive with dad

February 22nd, 2013 at 1:08 pm by under Sports

Kenny Stills is not alone looking to be better than dad. In his case, however, that means trying to top former Packers and Badgers safety Ken Stills, who played in Green Bay from 1985 to 1989. The younger Stills is a wide receiver coming out of Oklahoma, projected to be a mid-round pick. Growing up, however, he dreamed of batting down passes like his dad, not reeling them in for scores.

On if he always wanted to be a receiver.
In high school, I wished I was a little bigger and had more size to play defense. I didn’t mind playing receiver and I love scoring touchdowns.

Why did he want to play defense?

Because my dad played safety in the NFL for 7 years. Just to be better than him, I was always competing with him. Playing safety and being a big hitter was something I always enjoyed and thought I could do.

What’s his relationship like with his dad?

Always him talking about his playing days, reminiscing. Now that I’m a receiver, me telling him he’d never be able to guard me. He’d always talk about his younger days, being able to cover me. We’ve always had a really good relationship and it’s always been really competitive.

Mid-to-late round offensive line options

February 22nd, 2013 at 8:31 am by under Sports

Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse was a 5th round pick in 2010. Left guard TJ Lang lasted until the 4th in 2009. Ted Thompson’s shown he can find solid pieces for his offensive line late in the draft, and may look again to bolster his big guys in the 2013 draft. We caught up with several mid-round prospects the Packers may consider in the draft.

Ohio State tackle Reid Fragel (pictured right) is projected as a 5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. The Grosse Pointe Farms, MI native said he interviewed with the Packers at the combine, and has a particular Packer he likes watching.

What he thinks about the Packers having grown up and played in the Midwest.

I’ve always liked the Packers. I’ve never had a favorite team in particular, I guess you could say, growing up watching them play the Lions every year, we always had season tickets and I always enjoyed that game in particular.  Would love to play out there, have a lot of fun watching them. I like watching [Packers left guard] TJ Lang, especially, being a Detroit guy, fun team to watch for sure.

Has he ever met TJ Lang?

I’ve never spoke to him, but I’ve just watched him on TV, seen his comments online and stuff, pretty funny guy. Great player as well.

Illinois offensive lineman Hugh Thornton (pictured left) also has met with the Packers. He’s projected as a 5th-6th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. Thornton made 10 starts at left tackle for the Illini his senior season, though has experience at guard as well.

Is versatility a prime quality he mentions to teams during interviews?

I’ve played right tackle, left tackle, right guard, left guard. I’ve excelled at all four of them, I think, in my career at Illinois. It’s definitely a selling point.

What sets him apart as a player?

I think I’m physical, I’m tough and I play to the whistle. I’m one of the guys that’s always looking to finish. Whether it’s the beginning of the play or the end of the play. I think if you ask the opponents I played in the Big Ten what kind of player I am, they’d say I’m tenacious and I’m tough.

What comes to mind when you think of the Packers?

Family. I don’t know a whole lot about them, but I know they’re publicly owned, and it’s a family. If you’re a Packer, you’re part of the Packer family. I think it’s a great organization.

Schneider talks Ted

February 21st, 2013 at 5:33 pm by under Sports

Probably the most entertaining coach/general manager of the NFL Combine on Thursday was Seahawks GM John Schneider. The De Pere native and former Packers exec covered a lot of ground, including talking about Ted Thompson, one of the key guys he learned from before taking over his own franchise.

On Thompson’s growing GM-tree, including Reggie McKenzie and John Dorsey:

Ted’s a great person, he’s a great teacher.  Great leader, extremely even-keeled.  I think he’s probably taught a lot of us to be even-keeled, humble and move forward every day.  He’s a great guy.

Schneider asked if he can go to Ted for advice.

Does he come to me for advice? {Laughter} Absolutely, I have a great relationship with Ted, we talk a lot.

Thompson and Schneider have different styles with the media, Schneider much more open

It’s him, it’s the person. He’s a very humble, quiet person.

When Schneider worked for Packers, was he concerned with keeping things close to the vest like Thompson tends to?

I think he’s very smart, very calculating. Knows what he wants to give and what he doesn’t.  I’m sure he’s just not just a guy that’s going to, you know … believe it or not, he’s very funny if you hang out with him.  I’ve seen him on TV and stuff, I think he’s way better at it, I think he’s gotten much better, much more comfortable.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, you know. It’s part of the job.

NFL Scouting Combine, Day One

February 21st, 2013 at 4:23 pm by under Sports

Good afternoon from what the tropical-out-of-town-media call ‘freezing’ Indianapolis. It’s in the 30s; but when it starts sleeting later, remember I jinxed it.

We’ll have lots of coverage here on fox11online.com and on air from the NFL Scouting Combine, wanted to get you some first impressions …

–Heard from two Badgers o-lineman today, Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner. Frederick is projected as one of the top guard/centers, Wagner more of a mid-late round tackle. Frederick’s picture is to the right … he’s a natural on the mic, seems like a guy who could lead at center, a potential position of need for the Packers. Frederick wouldn’t give preference to any of the 32 teams; Wagner had no such problem: he’d love to be a Packer.

–Speaking of o-linemen the Packers may have their eye on, Alabama’s Barrett Jones was entertaining.  You may remember him from ‘shove-gate’ (his words) in the national championship game, where he and quarterback AJ McCarron got into a little pushing match after a disagreement. He’s entertaining, and has played just about every o-line position, a skill the Packers covet.

–Enjoyed hearing from Seahawks GM, former Packers exec John Schneider. Probably leader in the clubhouse for most entertaining NFL representative. Got people laughing talking about how his security people monitor prospects’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m paraphrasing here, but he talked about last year seeing someone post a picture of them with drugs, Schneider saying that was something he didn’t think he could personally get away with.

–Also asked Schneider afterward about his relationship with Ted Thompson, if he can still go to Ted for advice. His response? “You mean does Ted come to me for advice?”

–As for the media experience, which I’m sure you care very, very slightly about … it’s interesting. Coaches are on a strict schedule to come to the podium, which is appreciated. Each of them I wanted to hear from today were there at the exact minute they were scheduled. Prospects just kind of show up. I can be sitting and writing my scripts, when over the PA you hear, ‘Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner is at table 2,’ and you go run to table 2 where he’s sitting. Hectic, but day one went well.

Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson speak tomorrow. Should be fun. More online later.


Protecting the Shield; Game Notes

October 7th, 2012 at 11:17 am by under Sports

After the last Packers road game, Ryan Pickett sighed in the locker room.  He talked about how the NFL wants players to uphold the NFL brand, ‘protect the shield,’ so to speak.  The officiating in Seattle didn’t, in his eyes, live up to the same standard.

Fast forward a couple weeks, officiating nonsense is behind us, and nice to see the Packers with a real shield protecting gesture.  A bunch of Green Bay players, including (only limited to the guys I saw while on the field) Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tramon Williams, Ryan Taylor, Graham Harrell and Casey Hayward warmed up in shirts bearing the phrase “#ChuckStrong,” a nod to the Colts head coach recently diagnosed with leukemia.

A simple gesture, but it doesn’t take much.  Talk about athletes as role models all you want, but sending the message of, ‘hey, there are some things much bigger than winning.  Lots of things,’ that’s a good message to send.  Kudos to these guys for the subtle nod to an opposing head coach and his family going through, surely, a tough time.

Some notes before kickoff …

–Inactives for the Packers include James Starks.  The running back didn’t even appear on the injury report to end the week.  Perhaps it’s just bringing him along slowly … but so much for split carries.  It’s the Cedric Benson show for the time being.  Also, Mike McCarthy always says those final roster spots come down to special teams.  Maybe that’s where Starks needs to step his game up?

–Inactives for the Colts include two corners, Vontae Davis and Justin King.  Look for a pass-happy Packers team.  Active will be Dwight Freeney, who had two sacks (in limited playing time) in last year’s preseason game with the Packers.  At that time, he was going primarily against Chad Clifton.

–Talking to a Colts staffer, apparently Lucas Oil Stadium hosts several high school football games every Friday night.  That’s awesome.  Not talking bad about Lambeau or Camp Randall, the turf here won’t get torn up like a grass (or mostly grass) field would with multiple games per weekend.

Alright, getting ready for kickoff.  Should be fun.  Questions, comments, tweet me @Justin_Felder, and tune into the season’s first edition of Locker Room Live on FOX 11 after the game.

Home of the “12th Man”

September 24th, 2012 at 4:55 pm by under Sports

I like to see a good, random jersey.  There was someone wearing an Atlanta Falcon’s Brett Favre jersey when the Packers pulled up to their hotel yesterday, that was solid.  Walking around Seattle, you see a lot of #12s.  Maybe (probably?) more than any other number.  On the back, these jerseys usually say “FAN” or “MAN,” representing the Seahawks’ famed “12th Man” crowd.

The Seahawks are, like most teams, tougher at home than on the road.  This crowd, though, they take pride in their noise.  Players I talked to, like Randall Cobb, are expecting an SEC-like, Kansas City Chiefs-like, dome-like level of noise.

The “12th Man” does make a measurable impact.  The Seahawks’ record is better at home than on the road; though not dramatically in the last few seasons … but in fairness, they haven’t been one of the NFL’s top teams, so no piling up wins.  Interesting stat from the team’s game notes: since 2005, the Seahawks have forced opponents into more false start penalties, 112 of them, than any other stadium.  The 2nd-4th ranked teams in that stat are Minnesota, Detroit and St. Louis respectively — all domes.

To combat this (and, perhaps … though unlikely … bother the media), the Packers pumped artificial noise into practice for the first time since prepping for the Bengals in the preseason.  Bryan Bulaga says it’s helpful, but there’s no way to simulate what the stadium itself is going to be like.

Seahawks fans we’ve chatted with are pumped about this team.  They believe in their De Pere native general manager John Schneider and his Packers-like philosophy.  Expect an amped crowd Monday night.  This town believes beating the Packers will put the rest of the NFL on notice that the Seahawks, and their “12th Man”-advantage, are back.

Checking in from Seattle

September 23rd, 2012 at 6:29 pm by under Sports

First thing I can tell you about Seattle is that we share the same taste in music.  Everywhere we’ve been so far, they’re playing acoustic rock … Dave Matthews, that kind of thing.  They get me.

Touched down in the Emerald City this afternoon, Packers face the Seahawks Monday night.

Some thoughts …

–I know this is old news, but lots of Green and Gold around the city.  We walked around to shoot stand-ups for my story Sunday night on the FOX 11 Sports Edge, saw a lot of Packers gear.

–My story tonight is about the Packers preparing for former Badgers QB Russell Wilson.  It might be a case of ‘saying the right thing,’ but the defensive players I spoke to were adamant that Wilson’s height … or lack thereof, he’s 5’11, an inch shorter than Drew Brees … wasn’t an issue.

–Funny note that didn’t make my Wilson story: linebacker DJ Smith, who had height concerns of his own coming out of Appalachian State, told me he’s glad to see a fellow ‘under-sized’ guy have success.  He qualified, Wilson’s a QB, and he doesn’t like QBs.

–Packers arrived to a crowd of probably 50 Packers fans (and a host more onlookers who saw the crowd) … that’s Donald Driver (tan suit) and Greg Jennings (gray suit) in the picture to the left.

–My story tomorrow evening on FOX 11 News at Five, before the game, will be about dealing with the 12th Man, Seattle’s famed, noisy crowd.  Aaron Rodgers said this, along with Kansas City, are likely the loudest outdoor stadiums in the NFL.  Jennings has a pretty funny memory of his first Seattle road game memory, that’s in the story … so are Mike McCarthy and Bryan Bulaga talking about how crowd noise at practice helps get ready.

Stick with FOX11 and fox11online.com for coverage of the game.  If you’re watching and following along online, I’ll be tweeting from the press box, @Justin_Felder.  Send along your questions, comments, let’s have some fun.

The Packers 4×100 Relay Team

August 12th, 2012 at 7:43 pm by under Sports

I’m not sure what this says about my reporter-ing skills, but today I asked a question that took more time and thought to answer than any I’ve asked in a while.  The question was: which Packers would make the fastest 4×100 relay team.  Hard-hitting stuff, but it inspired some thought.

Jordy Nelson’s team: himself (running the anchor leg), Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Randall Cobb.  Cobb was his last addition to the team.

Jerron McMillian’s team: himself, Shields, Cobb and Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers may be a bit outside the box, but he can pass the baton (GET IT???  Hard-hitting humor, too).

For what it’s worth, Shields was the first pick on both those teams, widely regarded for his speed.

So who do you think would make the fastest 4×100 relay team out of the current Packers roster?  Would they give Usain Bolt or Team USA a run for their money?