Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Packers players news and notes

As the Green Bay Packers sit at 7-4, with all four losses by 3 points, and looking up at Da Bearz atop the NFC North (as disgusting a thought as there can possibly be!), roster moves continue. It has been the theme of this season for the Packers.

What's the difference between Da Bearz and the Packers? Yes, I know, we can go a lot of ways with that answer, all of them rip-roaringly funny. But for our purposes today, the correct answer is: health.

The Packers yesterday added LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and TE/LB Spencer Havner (hamstring) to the injured reserve list, bringing the team's league-leading total to 13. The Packers' IR list is a squad in its own right. And if you look at the names on that list, it's a pretty good squad at that. Just imagine what the Pack could have done this season if even half of that list was actually on the field. Wow. Still, it's a testament to the personnel moves of GM Ted Thompson that the Packers have been able to field players who haven't led to a complete collapse. And credit the coaching staff with coaching those players, some street and undrafted free agents, in such a way that they are ready to play at a high level. Truly remarkable given the circumstances.

Today, the Pack promoted LB Robert Francois and CB Josh Gordy from the practice squad to take the roster spots of Chillar and Havner. This is Francois' second time this season on the active roster, while it is Gordy's first call-up. Their spots on the practice squad were taken by new signees WR Terrance Smith and LB/DE Curtis Young.

Tramon Williams gets a payday
News broke Tuesday that the Packers and CB Tramon Williams had signed a four-year contract extension that will keep Williams in Green Bay through 2014. Williams is one of those great success stories in the NFL. An undrafted player out of Louisiana Tech who was cut by Houston in 2006, Williams was signed to the Packers' practice squad. The rest, as they say, is history. Williams worked hard, apprenticed behind Al Harris, and earned his payoff by performing at a Pro Bowl level ever since replacing Harris last year as the starting cornerback opposite Charles Woodson. He has been very good.

But now that he's gotten his big payday -- reportedly worth more than $33 million over the life of the extension -- Williams will be expected to continue performing at a high level. And there are no signs that he won't. He is a well-liked and well-respected member not only of the Packers but the broader Green Bay community. And he also is a player who even his agent says wants to stay in Green Bay. Williams is a player and person it is easy to root for. Congratulations, Mr. Williams. Well done. Keep up the great work.

If you want to read more about Williams' new contract, you can do so here.

Starks to see action...maybe
According to head coach Mike McCarthy's comments earlier this week, the woeful status of the Packers' rushing attack (I know, that seems to be a real oxymoron at the moment) is apparently making him think seriously about giving rookie RB James Starks some action this weekend. No one knows quite what to expect as Starks hasn't played any football since 2008; he missed his entire senior season at Buffalo with injury. Running backs coach Edgar Bennett -- a darn good running back in his own day -- says he likes what he sees in the youngster in practice. But what happens when he takes his first game hit in a couple years? And his first NFL hit besides? No clue. But given that QB Aaron Rodgers was the leading rusher for the Packers in the game against the Falcons this last weekend, clearly a change is in order.

That change, however, honestly needs to start with McCarthy actually committing to the run -- something his history indicates isn't overly likely -- and the offensive line opening some holes for whomever is carrying the ball. But the inability of Brandon Jackson to consistently perform and the total disappearance over the last two games of John Kuhn (although it's not clear why he hasn't factored into McCarthy's schemes recently), mean it's time to shake things up. Let's see what Starks can do. Maybe the Packers catch lightening in a bottle. That would be a surprise, granted. And the way this season has gone, it's probably more likely Starks also will wind up getting hurt and going on IR.

But let's be optimistic. At least until we see what we've got.