Live From The Combine: Day 1

We were reporting live from the NFL Scouting Combine througout Thursday. In our latest updates, Packers preseason commentator Rich Gannon on Cam Newton and some Packers interest in two offensive linemen.

Packers not playing tag

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein, the Packers will not use their franchise or transition tag on their top two unrestricted free agent candidates, defensive end Cullen Jenkins and kicker Mason Crosby.

Jenkins had seven sacks in 11 games and is considered one of the top interior pass rushers in the NFL. But a history of injuries and the franchise tag of an estimated $13 million was just too expensive. Crosby has been a solid but never exceptional kicker but the franchise price of about $3.26 million would have been palatable.

Packers interested in small-school guard

Lehigh's Will Rackley seems to be a perfect fit for the Packers. He knows the zone blocking scheme. He's smart. He's athletic. A three-time all-conference pick at tackle, he'd move inside to guard in the NFL.

Rackley is a midround prospect at guard, which could be a position of need depending on what the Packers choose to do with free agent starter Daryn Colledge. Rackley talked to the Packers at the East-West all-star game.

"I think it helped me. I think a lot of guys had questions, especially playing at a (Football Championship Subdivision) school, that I hadn't played against any really good competition. It was a good chance to show what I could do against some of the best guys in the country and I matched up very well with them."

Rich Gannon, a sample

Rich Gannon, the former NFL quarterback who is a co-host on Sirius NFL Radio and the Packers' color commentator for their preseason telecasts, had a strong opinion on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

"You look at them on tape, there's some exciting things. You see some skills, you see some playmaking ability, you can see that he can throw the football. But here's a guy who comes out and says, ‘I want to be an entertainer and an icon.' Now, that's not the kind of guy that I want to be coaching at that position. To me, that's a little brash. That's not really what I'm looking for in terms of a leader of my football team. I want a guy who wants to come in and do the dirty work and be the hardest-working guy on the football team and come early and stay late. When you talk about being an entertainer and an icon, I get the sense it's a guy who doesn't want to come to work on a Tuesday, which is the players' day off, and would rather be filming a commercial or out signing autographs. That to me is not what you want from that position."

I talked to Gannon about the Packers, Aaron Rodgers and the need to draft a quarterback. We'll have a full story later.

One guy on the radar

Since most of the players only recently arrived, they haven't conducted many team interviews. One player on the Packers' list, Packer Report has learned, is Miami offensive tackle Orlando Franklin.

Franklin, a Day 2 prospect, started 39 games for the Hurricanes, including 12 at left tackle as a senior after spending three years at guard. Six weeks ago, he had surgery for a torn meniscus in his knee, an injury sustained as a junior. Doctors thought it was tendonitis, and when the true injury was revealed just before his senior season, he delayed surgery because he thought the Hurricanes had "special" potential.

"They're just excited to see what I'm going to do," Franklin said of teams in general. "Everybody knows that I had surgery six weeks ago and they're excited to see that I got back as quick as possible and I'm going to be doing everything at the Combine this weekend." As for NFL position, scouts will give Franklin a look at tackle – which he embraces – but said he feels like he has "all the answers" at guard and "I'm a beast" at that position because of the experience.

Colbert on the Packers

Kevin Colbert, the personnel guru for the Steelers, always is a great interview because of Pittsburgh's schematic similarities to the Packers on the defensive side of the ball.

Did anything happen in the Super Bowl to force Colbert to upgrade one position group or another: "No, the Packers played a great game. They were better than us and they deserved to be the champions. Really, you can't weigh where your team stands on one game. We'll look at the whole season and look at where we stand and try to upgrade wherever we can."

The outside linebacker group is an area the Packers need to address: "The outside linebacker group is good. There's more available to us than has been in the past. You never know. Part of this evaluation will be the linebacker-type drills that some of the defensive linemen will have to go through. We'll continue that throughout the spring and see if we think these guys can make the conversion."

On any post-Super Bowl hangover: "It was a little unique. The Monday, the day after the Super Bowl, was abysmal for everybody. For us in the personnel department, our scouts flew in Tuesday night and we started meetings on Wednesday. We watched the game film right away. I think you have to do that and move on. That was one game to add to your evaluation for the season but you can't dwell on it, especially when you enter into this phase of the year. You're behind so you have to make up for lost time. Quite honestly, I'm glad we had to make up for lost time just so you can start focusing on next year."

Schwartz on beating the Packers

Detroit was the last team to beat Green Bay, stunning the Packers 7-3 at Ford Field behind third-string quarterback Drew Stanton. The Lions used that as a springboard to a season-ending, four-game winning streak.

"We need to win more games," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "We don't really take a whole lot of pride in having six wins or even winning the last four – there weren't many teams in the NFL that won four in a row. That stuff sort of makes you feel good but you can't just expect that to carry over. It is what it is and we're not living in the past. How we do next year won't be because of what happened in last year's game against the Packers. It'll be how we do in training camp."

Taking hits vs. making plays

Fanhouse's J.J. Cooper had a lot of time on his hands and timed the sacks. Baltimore's Joe Flacco took a league-high 25 sacks of 3.0 seconds or longer. Aaron Rodgers, who had a reputation of holding onto the ball too long, ranked 13th with 10 sacks of 3.0-plus seconds.

The Packers, however, don't mind those kind of sacks on occasion because of Rodgers' ability to extend plays and make plays. Ditto from Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

"First of all, Joe's a guy who can make plays by being creative and that's something we really want him to do," Harbaugh said. "Joe's capable of being a creative, playmaker quarterback, moving around the quarterback, shrugging off guys. He's a big, strong guy; he's only going to get stronger. He's way more athletic than what you think. He made more of those plays down the stretch and I want to encourage him to make those plays. There's nothing wrong with the way Ben Roethlisberger plays, the way Aaron Rodgers plays."

John Fox on Mike Trgovac

When new Denver Broncos coach John Fox was the coach of the Carolina Panthers, his defensive coordinator was Mike Trgovac, the Packers' defensive line coach. Trgovac was rumored to be a candidate to rejoin Fox in Denver but elected to stay in Green Bay for family reasons. Instead, Fox went with Dennis Allen and will be switching the Broncos from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3.

"That's tough to answer because of some tampering things but I was familiar with Mike Trgovac because he coached with me for some time with the Panthers," Fox said. "I think Mike's an outstanding coach and I know he'll get the opportunity to be a coordinator again someday."

We're live in Indianapolis

Welcome to Packer Report's running Scouting Combine notebook, which we'll update frequently throughout the next four days – though Thursday will start slowly unless you're interested in kickers and punters. Offensive linemen will talk to reporters later on Thursday; Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson are on tap for Friday.

Not only does the Combine start today, but today is the last day in which teams can designate franchise players. The Packers have only one legit candidate for the tag, and that's kicker Mason Crosby. The franchise tag is worth the average of the top five salaries at that position. At an estimated $13 million, that'll almost certainly be too rich for the Packers' top unrestricted free agent, Cullen Jenkins. Crosby would cost about $3.26 million.

Here is our rundown of the Packers' 12 unrestricted free agents from last week.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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