One: The Big Deal
The Packers had their starting offensive line back together on Monday with the return of Marshall Newhouse.
The young core of the starting line will be together for at least the next few years with left guard T.J. Lang eschewing free-agent gold at season's end for the security of a long-term deal now. Lang agreed to a four-year deal on Monday, according to agent Mike McCartney. Details were not available, though The Associated Press reported Lang's deal as an extension. If that's the case, he's locked up through the 2016 season.
While the offense revolves around the NFL's best quarterback, the Packers are in enviable position with one of the best young line trios in the league to protect Aaron Rodgers. Right guard Josh Sitton agreed to an extension on Sept. 2 that will keep him in Green Bay through 2016. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga's rookie deal has him signed through 2014.
How good are they?
According to the film study done by ProFootballFocus.com, Sitton tied Baltimore's Marshall Yanda for the fewest pressures allowed by a guard last season with nine (two sacks, one hit, six hurries). Lang ranked fourth with 11 total pressures (two sacks, one hit, eight hurries). Based on PFF's pass blocking efficiency rankings, which weighs pressures and pass-rushing snaps, Sitton was the second-best guard and Lang was sixth. Among tackles, only one player allowed fewer sacks than Bulaga's one, and his 21 total pressures (one sack, two hits, 18 hurries) tied for fourth.
All three are having tremendous training camps. Sitton established himself as one of the game's best guards in 2010, and Bulaga and Lang look like they're on course for breakout seasons.
Rounding out the line, Newhouse and Jeff Saturday are signed through 2013.
Two: Rookie of the Day
Mike Daniels missed all of the offseason work because of a torn labrum sustained before Iowa's bowl game, then missed practice time and Thursday's preseason opener with knee and groin injuries.
Daniels, a fourth-round pick, was drafted with one reason in mind: rush the passer. At 6-foot and 294 pounds, he's not a good fit for the Packers' base scheme but his strength, quickness and motor make him a great fit in the Packers' nickel package.
Because of the injuries, Daniels said he's still knocking off the rust and trying to master the techniques taught by position coach Mike Trgovac. He went 2-2 in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill on Monday and is looking forward to facing the Browns on Thursday, the first big test as he battles Jarius Wynn for a roster spot as a situational pass rusher.
"My strength, it could still be better, and my technique is still sloppy in a lot of ways," Daniels said. "There's a lot of things I need to do to continue to improve. It's clear that I missed some days."
Three: Position of the Day
Each day, we take a look at the competition at one position.
The noteworthy thing, however, is looking at who those players are surrounded by, because this is the best way of determining which bubble players make the final roster and which do not.
Ryan Taylor, Jarrett Bush, Brad Jones and Casey Hayward are on all four of the key special-teams units (punt, kickoff, punt return, kickoff return). Dezman Moses and Jamari Lattimore are on three of the four. John Kuhn, Robert Francois, Anthony Levine and Sean Richardson are on two.
Levine and Richardson are especially interesting. There's a good chance they're battling to be the final safety on the roster. Levine is a No. 1 on kickoff and kickoff return and Richardson is a No. 1 on punt and punt return.
Cedric Benson, on whether he's on a three-week tryout: ""I hadn't necessarily looked at it like that. That could be an underlying factor but to tell you the truth I'm not worried about that at all. Proving myself will be easy. I just need the football, and know where to run. I'm just looking at it as, I need to get myself acclimated with the playbook as fast as I can."
Aaron Rodgers, on getting to know Benson before the 2005 draft: "A little bit, yeah. We were in the Green Room together; he kind of left a little bit earlier than I did. No, I've always kind of watched his career from afar. Being drafted in 2005, I've followed the guys I was drafted with and the guys in the Green Room. It's fun to see a lot of us still playing and playing at a high level. It's fun to get Cedric in here. I think he can really add some experience. He's a very talented guy. He's coming off three really good seasons."
Rodgers, on his preseason goals: "I just don't want to get hurt. If I can get out of the preseason not getting hurt, that's kind of a win. Obviously, we want to score some points, move the ball, but as much as anything, it's getting those five linemen together and making sure the protections are looking good. It's the preseason, so you're not going to see a whole lot of blitzing, probably, but you want to make sure you feel good about who your left tackle is and how he's blocking, especially in the NFC North, and score some points."
Jermichael Finley, who's out with a quad injury, on whether he pushed himself too hard in the offseason: "I did. Coming off a season-ending (injury) two years ago, and then working out through the season and I was still grinding and now. It's just time to push the timeout and give me a full timeout. It's just maintenance, man. I'm just looking out for myself and the best thing for the team, also."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.