Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Packers OTAs underway - Harrell hurt again

Packers organized team activities (OTAs) -- the mini-camps that aren't -- are underway this week. These are the practices that aren't really mandatory for the players, but given the level of competition for roster spots most players see them as essential.

Take, for example, the receivers. There are 12 of 'em in Green Bay this week, all trying to make sure they are one of the 6 or 7 receivers who make the final cut. Who's likely safe? Donald Driver, of course, Greg Jennings and James Jones, plus -- barring some major problem or injury -- the Packers first pick from this year's draft, Jordy Nelson. Dependable Ruvell Martin should also garner a spot, although it's not guaranteed and he knows it. Then you've got the other receiver from this year's draft, Brett Swain. Johnny Quinn, who signed with the Pack after a workout in January, is also trying to make the team, perhaps on special teams. Shaun Bodiford, Chris Francies, and undrafted free agents Jake Allen, Rod Harper and Taj Smith round out the competition.

The Pack had one of the best young receiving corps in the league last year and it appears as if it will only be better this year given the competition for jobs. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Aaron Rodgers should have lots of good targets to choose from. (And, while we're speaking of Rodgers, this is now the first set of practices since he's been in Green Bay where he's now The Man. Heck, it's the first set of practices since about 1992 or so where anyone other than Brett Favre has been The Man. Still a bit surreal, isn't it?)

Harrell hurt...again
Remember how last year the Pack's surprise first round draft pick, Justin Harrell, couldn't participate in pre-season practices because of the torn bicep injury from his senior year at Tennessee? Well, according to reports and the Packers' own website, Harrell will also miss this year's OTAs with a back injury. During the course of last season, Harrell didn't get much playing time -- wasn't even active for many games -- because of knee and ankle injuries. So this must be a new injury. Fans may recall that one of the raps on Harrell coming out of college was that he was injury prone. Well...guess we'll see how this one turns out. The Packers website says that Harrell, along with cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder) are out for the entire four-week OTA session but "all three should be cleared for the start of training camp."