Sydney Speaks! Training camp preview

For Green Bay Packers fans, it's starting to become the time of the year we really enjoy. It's back to FOOTBALL! Training camp is right around the corner. We all want to believe that the Pack will remain on top of the division, but whether they win it or not is the question. Let's take a look at what to look for in training camp:

OFFENSIVE COACHING
First, the coaching staff must be on the same page and decide what is going to be the meat and potatoes of the offense. Will this team be built around the arm of Brett Favre, or the legs of Ahman Green? Through the last several years the Packers have taken too long to figure it out and have lost some games or weren't as sharp because of their inability to discover their identity. The coaches also should understand how valuable the play-action pass can be to the offense, if utilized properly.

OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Brett must take his game to a different level. He must make everyone around him better. That's what the great players do. Ahman must hold on to the football and at the same time run with explosiveness, not like he was running at the end of last season. William Henderson can't play forever, so Nick Luchey has to get himself in the best shape of his life, so William can pass the torch. Luchey needs to stop being lazy. Najeh Davenport has to play like he wants to start in the NFL and get over all those nagging injuries and be dependable. Tony Fisher needs to just stay hungry.

As for the receivers, Javon Walker has to get his head together and come in to camp and earn they money he wants to get paid. He needs to understand that as good as he is, he is still replaceable. Camp will be very important to him to also heal the wounds. Donald Driver needs to remember where he came from and keep that chip on his shoulder. And Robert Ferguson, who I believe has more talent then all of the receivers, needs to be like Davenport and stay healthy, and stop being a game-plan killer. It is difficult for coaches to game plan and use a player's talents when he is hurt all the time. Who is going to step up and be the fourth receiver? I believe Terrence Murphy has all the tools, but he's a rookie and he will have to earn his stripes. However, if Antonio Chatman is your fourth there is room for improvement.

There are no questions with the tight ends, except besides Bubba Franks, where are they? How long is this staff going to wait for David Martin?

The big question on offense surrounds the offensive line. The was the strength of the offense, in my mind. How are Matt O'Dwyer and Adrian Klemm going to stay healthy let alone replace Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera? Chemistry is a very critical element with the line, so it will be interesting to see how it develops in training camp.

DEFENSIVE COACHING
This staff must teach fundamentals and let the players execute them. This means there must be live tackling at times in camp. Surrounding the ball means nothing if they aren't going to hit anyone when they get there during practices. The scheme Jim Bates brings to Green Bay isn't complicated, but it requires that the players bring the heat. The staff's biggest challenge will be finding out which players will do that so they can pull the trigger and put the best out there!

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
It starts up front. Who is going to make a difference? Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has to be a every down player, or get off the field. He can't be the weak link verses the run anymore. If he is, he should come in only on passing downs. Grady Jackson has to lose weight, take over the leadership role and get everyone to play up to his level. Cletidus Hunt needs to do something he hasn't done since he got paid the big money, and that's EARN IT. Aaron Kampman has to just keep working hard because he gives everything he has every play. For this unit to get better someone else must emerge from the shadows, like Corey Williams, Donnell Washington, Kenny Peterson, or Cullen Jenkins. They should all be given enough chances to make an impact on this defensive line. Someone has to seize the moment. I wonder who will it be? This will be a make it or break it training camp.

As for the linebackers, they are what they are. The newcomer, Brady Poppinga, will be given every opportunity to shine if he can handle it. Nick Barnett is playing out of position, but what choice do the Packers have?

In the secondary, I know that Al Harris is a quality player but after that it's a crap shoot. Look at what's back there! That's why there are a lot of questions that need to be answered in camp. Let's start with Arturo Freeman from Miami. He is here because he knows the system, but can he really play? Is Mark Roman going to show up this year? Can Nick Collins really play at this level and will he be forced to play too soon to justify where he was picked in the draft? Is he a safety or a corner? Can Mike Hawkins and Marviel Underwood make a difference? Will they adjust better than Ahmad Carroll, who still hasn't figured out that they throw penalty flags for holding in the NFL. Joey Thomas talks a good game, but he must learn how to play it. Can he and Carroll co-exist without hurting the team?

SPECIAL TEAMS
Will the special teams change the blocking schemes on the return units to give whomever the returner is an opportunity to make big plays? Or are they just satisfied with catching the ball and getting whatever is there is? That hasn't been good enough.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS
Ryan Longwell just needs to stay sharp. B.J. Sander is the punter and has had time to get it together, so hopefully there will be no excuses. I like Chatman. He's a nice guy, but there needs to be an upgrade at punt returner, so maybe Craig Bragg or Murphy can take it over. And there's nothing like training camp to figure out the answers.


Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney's column appears each Tuesday on PackerReport.com. The former Packer fullback and assistant coach answers questions from fans each Friday on PackerReport.com. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com.


Packer Report Top Stories