The normally allotted times for the team's strength and conditioning workouts, the quarterbacks school and the rookie camp — which was scheduled for May 13-15 — are gone. Players, therefore, have been left to fend for themselves, away from any direction from coaches.
Aside from the rookies, players going from their first year in the league to their second might be the most affected. Packers coach Mike McCarthy continually has preached about that time period being the one in which he sees his players take the biggest jump in their learning and development. That being said, not every player on the Packers' roster can rest on his Super Bowl champion laurels. These players in particular would benefit from the lockout being lifted soon:
Marshall Newhouse — Newhouse spent his rookie season getting stronger and working on his run blocking skills in practice. He was inactive for 15 games before being placed on injured reserve Dec. 31 after his back flared up. Sitting on the bench was something new for Newhouse. He played all four seasons at TCU, including the last three as the starter at left tackle. In his first NFL season, he took repetitions at three different positions and could find himself doing the same again this year battling for a spot on the depth chart. Said Newhouse last January, "If (moving around to different spots) means I have a better opportunity to play, then yeah (I'll do it). I have the ability. It's not like, ‘You're a jack of all trades. You're OK at a bunch of stuff.' I have the ability to be good at a bunch of positions."
C.J. Wilson — After an up-and-down first training camp with the Packers, Wilson, a seventh-round pick in 2010, was fortunate enough just to make the team. But along with his good fortune came opportunity and Wilson showed signs of improvement.
Wilson appeared in 15 regular-season games (two starts) at defensive end finishing with 21 tackles, six QB hits and one sack while posting six tackles and a sacks in four playoff games. This past season was his first in a 3-4 defensive scheme after playing in a 4-3 at East Carolina.
With the likely departure of Cullen Jenkins to free agency and the uncertainty surrounding Johnny Jolly's future, Wilson and Mike Neal could be key components. They are the youngest defensive ends on the roster among six returning players at the position.
Nick McDonald — Perhaps the biggest surprise to make the roster last year, McDonald is an interior offensive line prospect the Packers are high on. He was one of three undrafted rookie free agents to make the Packers in 2010, but unlike Sam Shields and Frank Zombo, McDonald never saw the field. That could change in 2011.
While McDonald does not necessarily project to be a starter, circumstances could warrant a longer look. Guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz are scheduled to become free agents and a host of other young players are battling for backup spots. Should Colledge — a full-time starter over the last three seasons — depart, the starting left guard spot will be up for grabs. McDonald, viewed as a developmental player coming out of Grand Valley State, might have as good a chance as any.
James Starks — One of last season's darlings during a Super Bowl run for the Packers, Starks is far from a finished product. Remember that before Starks ran for an NFL postseason-leading 315 yards — including a franchise rookie record 123 in a wild-card game at Philadelphia — he had hardly played any football for two seasons.
Shoulder surgery in 2009 sidelined Starks for his entire final season at the University of Buffalo and a hamstring injury forced him to miss all of training camp and most of his rookie season with the Packers in 2010. Starks finally made his debut on Dec. 5 against the 49ers and then played in seven of the last nine games (including the playoffs).
While hopes are high for Starks, he knows he has a long way to go to put his injury problems behind him and thrive in all areas of the Packers' system. "I basically try to get better each day," he said during Super Bowl XLV week. "I think I can improve in different areas, and if you work on those things, you'll become better at it. It is muscle memory and programming your body to do what you want to do. If you're constantly doing those things right, they eventually become a habit."
Graham Harrell — The Packers picked up the 25-year-old journeyman quarterback last May. After spending the first 13 games of 2010 on the practice squad, Harrell was elevated to the active roster to provide depth when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with a concussion.
Harrell, perhaps more than anyone else on the Packers, has been affected the most by the lockout since it wiped out the team's quarterbacks school (normally held in March), a valuable tool which has worked wonders not only for Rodgers but backup Matt Flynn. Because Harrell joined the team halfway through the off-season last year, he still has much to catch up on.
Harrell spent time in the CFL (2009) and with the Cleveland Browns — on a tryout basis in rookie minicamps — before coming to Green Bay. He was the NCAA's record holder for career passing touchdowns and completions following his career at Texas Tech.
Brad Jones — Unlike the others listed above, Jones is going into his third season. But this will be a big year for him competing among a group of players for a starting spot at a position that is wide open, according to outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.
Consider that although Jones is one of the most experienced of the bunch at outside linebacker, he has played just 20 games over the last two seasons. A shoulder injury in 2010 limited him to six games and in 2009 he made seven starts taking over for the injured Aaron Kampman at midseason.
As the incumbent at one of the outside linebacker positions headed into training camp and the regular season last year, Jones will have to re-gain his spot after solid showings by rookie Frank Zombo (nine starts including playoffs) and street free agent Erik Walden (five starts including playoffs) in his absence. Jones (6-foot-3, 242 pounds) will need to continue his strength gains of a year ago and make up for lost repetitions in the Packers third season in the 3-4 under Dom Capers. Unfortunately, the lockout limits him from doing that.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave publisher Bill Huber a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org