Monday, June 05, 2006

Week 1 OTA Wrap and Touchdown Trivia

OK, Packer fans, about the biggest news coming out of last week's OTAs (Organized Team Activities) was that free agent receiver Marc Boerigter was impressing coaches. Boerigter was expected to perhaps be the fourth or fifth receiver in the lineup after Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner. However, since Gardner has been a no-show so far at these voluntary practices, Boerigter is getting lots of work, which equals lots of attention, which may equal a bump up the depth chart. Too early to tell, but reports out of GB indicate the coaches like what they see. Rookie receiver Greg Jennings also continues to turn heads. If Gardner doesn't step up by showing up soon during the remaining days of these OTAs he just may find himself as lower on the pecking order than he might have thought.

All this competition at the wide receiver slot is a good starting point for the topic of scoring touchdowns, something the Pack didn't do quite enough of last year...although one odd bit of trivia is that the Packers did score more touchdowns than Da Bearz who wound up winning the division. Go figure.

The Pack actually wound up better than their opponents in three offensive categories: first downs, third-down conversions, and total yards. But, to paraphrase, all those stats don't mean a thing if you ain't got the this case, TDs.

Do you know who led the team in touchdowns last year? Here's a hint: his name rhymes with...oh to heck with it, nothing rhymes with Gado. Yep, Samkon Gado, who played in only eight games before being lost to injury like so many of his teammates. Gado scored seven TDs in his eight games. Starting running back, Ahman Green, by contrast had no touchdowns in the five games he played before being lost for the season. Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher each had two scores, as did late season replacement Noah Herron. That was it for the running backs. And, as they say, as the running game goes so goes the rest of the offense. We all know how that worked out. The receiving corps saw Donald Driver with five TDs, Antonio Chatman with four, Robert Ferguson with three, David Martin with three, Donald Lee with two and Bubba Franks with one.

Yikes! Well, guess that explains that 4-12 record, huh?

Needless to say, there is an emphasis this year on figuring out how to get the team's skill players into the end zone. What a concept! So far, it seems as if the players are getting on board with the new zone blocking scheme which is designed to provide more lanes of opportunity for the running backs. Open up the running game and the passing game also opens up. Pretty simple. Just gotta execute. Therein is the rub, as they say. Coach Mike McCarthy is working his new team hard with all these additional "voluntary" practices. But when even Brett Favre is in attendance right now, there is a tone being set that last year will not be repeated. No one can control injuries, which was such a contributing factor to last year's debacle. But if the season exhibits the passion that the coaching staff and a majority of the old and new players seem to be bringing to the practice field, last year will be a distant memory very quickly.

Oh, one other bit of trivia emerging from the first week of OTAs: at the end of one practice late last week QB Brett Favre, sat down next to Samkon Gado at Gado's locker for a chat. Not something that happens every day apparently as it was noted by players and press alike. Favre and Gado talked for about 20 minutes. While Gado said he just wanted to learn more about how Favre thought about different things, it was also reported that Favre wanted to let Gado know how important he was going to be in the offense as Ahman Green's back up. Now that's leadership, folks. More importantly, Gado knew that and appreciated the moment. Gotta like that kid. And the old kid too.