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 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 rules for airing NFL games

August 30th, 2012 at 8:25 am by under Sports

With the start of the NFL regular season just around the corner, I thought an explanation of the rules governing broadcasting NFL games might be helpful. Hopefully, this will answer some of your questions about game assignments and the process used.

* The rules are crafted between the NFL and networks which carry the games (FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network). Local affiliates (i.e. WLUK-TV) have little control in the process – and are sometimes at the mercy of the decisions made on-the-fly by the network.

* Because we are the home market station for the Green Bay Packers, we are guaranteed to show all of the Packers games on Fox. This year we have nine of those (so far). If the Packers are the late game, such as in Week 1, if the early game is running long, we will cut away from it to show all of the Packers game – even if that means viewers miss a great ending.

* New this year: To help alleviate that problem, however, the NFL has moved the kickoff time of the primary nationally-televised doubleheader game from 3:15 to 3:25pm. Even though the original schedule released by the league doesn’t reflect it, the Packers games vs. the 49ers (Sept. 9) and Saints (Sept. 30) will start at 3:25pm. As of now, those are the only two Green Bay games affected. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the late games will start at 3:25 – just the games on the network with the doubleheader.

* We air every NFL game we can. If we have a post-game show, it’s not replacing a game that’s available to us. As of now, we have five “Locker Room Live” post-games planned: Oct. 7 (Colts), Nov. 4 (Cardinals),  Nov. 18 (Lions), Dec. 2 (Vikings), and Dec. 16 (Bears).

* Just because FOX has games in both the noon and 3:15/3:25pm slots does not mean we can air two games every week. The networks (generally) alternate doubleheader weeks. Sometimes we can air two, sometimes we can’t. FOX usually has at least one late game because of the west coast home NFC games in Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean we can always air them. It’s not our choice – it’s league & network rules. The upshot here: the on-air promos don’t necessarily translate to games on air for Fox 11.

* FOX assigns us the other games, based on regional interest or national importance. This means we usually get NFC North games. We can request a change, but the network doesn’t have to grant it. In Week 1, for example, we were assigned Washington at New Orleans for the noon game but we requested the be Rams vs. Lions. We will find out next week which game we get. Each week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, we post which game will have on our Facebook page.

* For non-prime-time games between teams in different conferences, the network of the visiting team gets the rights. That’s why Fox 11 will have the Packers at Colts game, and CBS will have the Jacksonville & Tennessee at Green Bay games.

* Even if it is a Fox doubleheader Sunday, Fox 11 can’t air a game at the same time as a Packers home game. On Oct. 28, for example, we will only air the second game of the doubleheader, and can’t air any of the four early Fox games (ATL @ PHI, WSH @ PIT, CAR @ CHI, SEA @ DET). The same holds that on a CBS doubleheader week, WFRV can’t air a different game during a Packers home game on Fox 11. The only exception to this is Week 17, when both networks get two games because of playoff implications.

* Local fans are guaranteed to see all of the Packers games on local broadcast stations, even if they are on cable (ESPN or the NFL Network). Those networks put the games up for bids to the local stations for the right to air them. I don’t know which local station has these games, but it’s not Fox 11.

* The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the year, the NFL may decide to change games to give NBC a more attractive game in its Sunday night time slot. Games may also move between the early and late doubleheader slots. Thursday and Monday night games do not change.

Given all of that, here is the tentative schedule for the NFL on Fox 11. Remember, the assignments for the non-Packers games very possibly could change based on how the year develops – so please don’t call in December complaining we aren’t airing a specific game just because it’s on this list now. That said, we should have games in all of these timeslots.

If you have any questions, post them below!

Noon – St. Louis at Detroit, or Washington at New Orleans
3:25pm – San Francisco at GREEN BAY

Noon – Minnesota at Indianapolis

Noon – St. Louis at Chicago

Noon – Minnesota at Detroit
3:25pm – New Orleans at GREEN BAY

Noon – GREEN BAY at Indianapolis

Noon – Detroit at Philadelphia, or Dallas at Baltimore
3:25 – NY Giants at San Francisco

Noon – GREEN BAY at St. Louis

3:25pm – New York Giants at Dallas

Noon – Arizona at GREEN BAY

Noon – Detroit at Minnesota
3:25pm – Dallas at Philadephia

Noon – GREEN BAY at Detroit

Thanksgiving, 3:25pm – Washington at Dallas
Sunday – Noon – Minnesota at Chicago
3:25pm – San Francisco at New Orleans

Noon – Minnesota at GREEN BAY

Noon – Chicago at Minnesota
3:25pm – New Orleans at New York Giants

Noon – GREEN BAY at Chicago

3:25pm – Chicago at Arizona

Noon – GREEN BAY vs. Minnesota
3:25pm – to be determined, based on playoff races

College football on Fox 11 & CW14

August 27th, 2012 at 4:01 pm by under Sports

More football!

While Fox has a strong sports lineup – the NFL, NASCAR and Major League Baseball – we are pleased that the network is adding significantly this year to its college football lineup. When combined with the college football slate on CW14, we’ve got three of the country’s best conferences – ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 – on our stations.

The action starts this Saturday, Sept. 1. Start your day on CW14, with the ACC Blitz pregame show at 11am, followed by a game at 11:30am.

For much of the season, Fox 11 will have doubleheaders on Saturdays, with games starting at 3pm. That won’t happen the first few weeks, however, because we’ve still got the major league baseball game of the week

The schedule for the first three weeks is posted below. After that, games will be determined each week. We will post the games on our Facebook page and put the information in the ticker in the newscasts.

Sept. 1
11:30am – Elon at North Carolina on CW14
3pm – MLB: Cardinals vs. Nationals on Fox 11
6:30pm – Hawaii at USC on Fox 11

Sept. 8
11:30am – Ball State at Clemson on CW14
3pm – Baseball game of the week, teams TBA, on Fox 11
6:30pm – Nebraska at UCLA

Sept. 15
11:30am – Connecticut at Maryland on CW14
3pm  – Baseball game of the week, teams TBA, on Fox 11
6:30pm – USC at Stanford

Fox 11 will end the season with the Pac 12 Championship on Nov. 30, the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1, and the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.

Thanks for watching. We hope you enjoy the coverage!

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?

Observations from Packers mini-camp opener

June 12th, 2012 at 6:51 pm by under Sports

Absolutely gorgeous day as the Packers opened mini-camp.  Two more days out on the field, then the team is off for about six weeks before reporting for training camp.

Once again, happy to share some observations from the practice field and locker room.  If you have anything to add, leave a comment or send me a tweet, @Justin_Felder

From the field …

  • Practice didn’t look different than the OTAs; it sounded different.  There were referees during the scrimmages, both sides didn’t waste their voices yelling for penalties.  The offense and defense were both vocal, joking around and getting loud after big plays.  During scrimmages, we stand behind defensive sideline, easy to hear them giving the offense a hard time.
  • Fun to see Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams going head-to-head on a few consecutive plays.  First, Aaron Rodgers threw a ball up into the end zone … maybe it was a blown play or some miscommunication, but Williams came down with an interception.  You could hear him yell, ‘pick’ before grabbing the ball.  Don’t know if that rankled Rodgers, but a few plays later, he found Jordy Nelson on a familiar front pylon-fade route for a pretty touchdown.  Watching the video, Rodgers had his eyes towards Nelson the whole way.
  • Charles Woodson, back after not being on the field during the OTAs that were open to the media, did a lot of work.  During training camp, and even during practice weeks, the coaches sometimes take it easy on Woodson, heading into his 15th season.  Woodson was out there a lot, saying afterward he thinks that will be the plan for the week.  Day one, he played largely at the nickel and dime spots.

From the locker room …

  •  First time I got to talk to rookie QB BJ Coleman.  He talked a lot about how good of a teacher and mentor Aaron Rodgers is, how he tells Coleman and Graham Harrell what to look for on plays, in the film room.  He also mentioned that, before coming up for individual work and OTAs, people told him it would feel like a long time in Green Bay … now he says it feels like it’s flown by.
  • Everyone’s happy to have Charles Woodson on the field.  While Woodson proclaimed himself ‘a little rusty,’ teammates and Coach McCarthy disagreed.  Casey Hayward, a rookie who was in elementary school when Woodson broke into the NFL, says he thinks Woodson is still a top-5 defensive back in the league, and is excited to pick his brain.  Woodson said he’s happy with what he’s seen of the defensive rookies so far.
  • Woodson also emphasized the Packers need to get to the QB this season.  You can cover all you want in the secondary, “but if you need to cover a guy for 5, 6 seconds,” it’s tougher.  Woodson also talked about the team releasing safety Nick Collins.  It’s tough from a football standpoint, Woodson said, but “from a friend-standpoint it hurts even more.”
  • Talked to Josh Sitton a about new center Jeff Saturday, getting used to the communication … and as importantly, his recent round at Pebble Beach.  Sitton said he only lost one ball in the ocean on the waterside course.  Not a bad way to spend some downtime during offseason work.

Gorgeous day.  Hope this sunburn doesn’t hurt too bad.  If you were in the stands and have comments of you’re own, add them below, and always feel free to send me a tweet @Justin_Felder

Observations from OTA #2

May 30th, 2012 at 7:24 pm by under Sports

Two open OTA practices in the book, and I think we can just about all agree on the 53-man roster, right?

Just like the first week, happy to share a few observations from behind-the-viewfinder at practice and on the other end of the microphone in the locker room.  If you were there and want to contribute, or have questions, leave a comment here or tweet me @Justin_Felder.

  • One guy who stood out: Jarrett Bush.  On two plays in the same series of offense-vs-defense drills, he made a great jump on an out-route throw from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones and nearly got the interception … then minutes later, he timed his jump on a blitz and tipped a pass intended for Jordy Nelson on a slant, nearly getting Sam Shields a pick of his own.  Bush was demonstratively upset at both missed-picks, but if he can become a reliable option at corner, he’ll look like a bargain as an offseason free agent signing.
  • Bush also downed a couple punts near the end zone, but that’s old news.  Does that all the time.
  • Speaking of bargains, I’m starting to think Andrew Datko may be one of those patented Packers draft-steals.  The 7th rounder looks the part … he’s big.  Played some left tackle with the first teamers.  Looks like a tackle.  No pads and I don’t know his medical situation (which is what caused him to drop in the draft), so no getting ahead of ourselves.

From the locker room …

  • Donald Driver absolutely held court, as he tends to do.  I can’t imagine how many interviews this guy has done in the last few weeks; yet he immediately spoke to the throng of reporters once the locker room was open to media, and stuck around to talk for a while.  Everyone’s working in the dancing puns about how he avoided talking contract details … here’s a good one from FOX 6′s Jen Lada.
  • Taking Mike Neal at his word, that he failed a drug test because of a prescription medication, you kind of feel bad.  Injuries have held the early part of his career back, now he’ll have to sit.  He was very candid talking to me, and very adamant he in no way took steroids.  Four games is a long time to sit out — Neal seems concerned as well with protecting his reputation.
  • TJ Lang was told that new center Jeff Saturday singled out he and guard Josh Sitton as reasons he wanted to come to Green Bay.  TJ’s response: “That’s definitely a nice compliment from him … Definitely looking forward to playing with him.”  TJ said the o-line room has been helping Saturday for learn a new offense for the first time in a long time.
  • Lang and Sitton are also well known on Twitter for occasionally poking fun at one another.  They secretly get along very well, and speak very highly of one another (not on Twitter).  Lang today, speaking about how linemen are helping Jeff Saturday learn the offense, said, “Josh, he’s one of the smarter guys we have on this team.”

Once again, if you were at Ray Nitschke Field and want to add your thoughts, have questions, leave a comment here or tweet me @Justin_Felder.

Observations from OTA #1

May 22nd, 2012 at 7:06 pm by under Sports

It’s way, way too early to jump to any conclusions or draw any depth charts.  But, it’s summer, I like football, you like football, so let’s talk about it.

The Packers practiced for a little under two hours, open to the public, as part of their first OTA of the offseason … first since the 2010 offseason, in fact.

Here are a handful of things I noticed from behind-the-viewfinder and on the other end of the mircophone…. and I’ll do my best to keep the logical leaps to a minimum.

  • In offense/defense drills, there were two very nice interceptions — first from MD Jennings, second from Sam Shields.  Shields caught an over-the-shoulder ball, near the end zone, in double-coverage with UDFA Sean Richardson on Jordy Nelson … Jennings caught a hard-thrown ball while sliding to the ground in the middle of the field.  Jennings got a lot of run with Charlie Peprah sidelined and Charles Woodson absent (so did rookie Jerron McMillian)
  • Big cheer from the crowd for Tom Crabtree, maybe because they’re his Twitter followers … but he also made a very athletic catch on a ball away from his body.
  • During position drills, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews were side-by-side a lot.  Don’t expect Clay to get all sentimental and talk about taking Perry under his wing, but it’s clear he’s already invested in Perry’s progress — not the least of which because Matthews stands to benefit if Perry can get some pressure.  I asked Perry about “Coach Clay,” he just laughed and said Matthews has been answering all his questions.
  • We’ll be talking about which and how many wide receivers make the roster … Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel the returning guys with a chance to make it, obviously the questions hanging over Donald Driver … but rookie UDFA Dale Moss looks the part.  Tall and fast, former basketball player … will be fun to watch him develop.

From the locker room …

  • Alex Green is itching to get back on the field.  Media pressed him to see if he would be ready by training camp … he took a deep breath, didn’t want to put a timetable on anything.  With Ryan Grant possibly-to-likely departed, Green could get some time.
  • Aaron Rodgers likes to throw in little jokes when chatting with the media … today, he took sly aim at the defense, saying, ‘Defense likes to go pretty hard in these OTAs without pads on.’  Nothing to read into this — I just think Rodgers likes to try and slide jokes past the media.
  • A lot of talk about Donald Driver on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’  Desmond Bishop said he’d definitely be watching, but wouldn’t be hosting a players-viewing party at his house.  Fair enough.
  • Jeff Saturday was engaging with the media, talked about how schools in the area played a factor in his decision in coming to Green Bay.  Said he almost felt like a rookie, having to learn a new system for the first time in a while — plenty humble for a five-time Pro Bowl, two-time All-Pro player.


Those are a few of my observations … if you were in the stands, of have things to keep an eye on next time, let me know.  Comment or send me a tweet, @Justin_Felder

Jacobs said he’d consider playing for the Packers

March 9th, 2012 at 5:23 pm by under Sports, Uncategorized

Green Bay isn’t known for forays into free agency, nor do they seem to be in the market for a veteran power back.  That said, Brandon Jacobs said last season he would welcome a chance to, one day, continue his career in the Green and Gold.  On Friday, New York Giants released Jacobs after seven seasons.  He’s the fourth-leading rusher in Giants franchise history.

After losing to the Packers in Week 16 of the 2010 season, Jacobs and the Giants were snowed in and forced to spent some extra time at the team hotel in Appleton.  FOX 11′s Ben Krumholz caught up with Jacobs the Monday after the Giants’ loss, and asked about if Jacobs would ever consider playing in Green Bay.

“If push came to shove and Green Bay offered me an opportunity to extend my career as a Packer, you know, count me in,” said Jacobs on December 27th, 2010.

According to the AP, Jacobs wanted to work out a new deal with the Super Bowl champion Giants, but couldn’t get a deal done.

“Out of every place we play, [Green Bay] is a place I actually respect the fans and the people the most,” said Jacobs back in December 2010. “You know, it’s just all-American people.”

The Packers are scheduled to visit the Giants in the upcoming season, and could be and appealing candidate to face the Giants in the NFL’s season opener.