Offense will be deep and explosive

You wouldn't know it from watching the scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills Friday night, but the Green Bay Packers' offense will be the team's strength in 2005.

Last week the depth on offense took a bit of a hit as OT Brad Bedell injured his hamstring. Thankfully, the injury does not appear serious. The Packers are also a little nicked up at RB as Najeh Davenport suffered a minor ankle injury during Friday's Family Night scrimmage. Overall, the offense struggled against the Bills, but it is still very early in camp. If the Packers can get TE Bubba Franks signed soon, then the offense will have all the horses it needs for success.

Here is a breakdown of the offense by position.

Quarterback
Brett Favre appears to be recharged. His durable body is more chiseled thanks to a personal trainer, and the break from the minicamps have seemed to invigorate him. Favre knows his window for getting to another Super Bowl is closing, and he is doing everything he can to get himself ready for that run.

Rookie Aaron Rodgers has looked very good as of late in camp. He didn't get much help from his line or his receivers vs the Bills. He appears to have pretty good command of the offense and the Packers are smiling knowing that they got a steal with the 24th pick of the first round in April's NFL Draft. Rodgers will push Craig Nall for the primary backup job to Favre. Nall has faced adversity before in previous training camps and has always been up to the challenge. Nall looked very good in spot playing time in 2004 as he threw four TDs and no interceptions. His QB rating was 139.

J.T. O' Sullivan appears to have the slimmest chance of making the squad. O'Sullivan has good ability, but if Rodgers and Nall have strong camps, the odds are against the QB acquired in the Mike McKenzie trade. Look for the Packers to move O' Sullivan for a draft pick later this summer.

Running backs
Look for more of the same here. Why break up a good thing? RB Ahman Green is looking to have a big season in the final year of his contract. He has looked very good at camp thus far, although he has had some back discomfort.

Green is tough and durable and he is looking to repeat the numbers he put up in 2003. Primary backup RB Najeh Davenport has come into camp much leaner thanks to Jenny Craig. Davenport looked very good in his only start last year vs the Rams, but he battled injuries throughout the year. The weight loss will hopefully help keep him healthier in 2005.

RB Tony Fisher is a very solid backup, especially on third down. Fisher catches the ball extremely well and has improved his blocking in blitz situations.

The fullback situation could get interesting. William Henderson is coming off his first Pro Bowl. No one comes into training camp in better shape than Henderson. He is a pro's pro.

FB Nick Luchey was brought in a couple years back to push and possibly replace Henderson, but he can't wrestle the job from Henderson. Luchey can also play a little heavy and has had some injury issues. When healthy, Luchey is a good blocker that can also play HB in a pinch. Luchey will be pushed by FB Vonta Leach who is also a bruising blocker. Leach opened some eyes last year with his solid play.

Wide receivers
The Packers may be deeper at the WR position than they have been in years. Back is Javon Walker who had earlier threatened a holdout. Walker is looking to have back to back monster seasons which will virtually assure him of a new and improved contract in the near future. Donald Driver bounced back in 2004 with a great campaign after a tough 2003 season. Walker and Driver might be the best 1-2 tandem in the NFC, if not the NFL. Behind them are a couple of former Texas A&M stars. Robert Ferguson is hoping to bounce back from the brutal clothesline hit he took late in the 2004 season.

Ferguson has showed flashes of greatness during his tenure in Green Bay and he is looking to be more consistent in 2005. Another former Aggie, rookie Terrence Murphy, is looking to make an immediate impact as well. Murphy has looked very good thus far in minicamps and early training camp, but was sidelined most of last week with a hamstring injury.

Murphy has an explosive burst that also will make him a threat on special teams as a returner. A four wideout set of Walker, Driver, Ferguson and Murphy would be a defensive coordinator's nightmare.

The Packers also have WR/KR Antonio Chatman back as well. Chatman improved as a WR last year and he also has had a solid off-season. In addition to Chatman, the Packers also drafted Craig Bragg out of UCLA. Bragg will have to pick up the pace, but he has good ability and he can also return kicks and punts.

Tight ends
The key is getting Bubba Franks signed to a long-term contract. Franks is as solid a TE as there is in pro football. He is almost never hurt, and he is assignment sure. Franks is still a very dangerous threat in the red zone and he also has shown some ability recently to stretch the field. Backing up Franks will be David Martin. Martin is already a little nicked up in camp. Martin has special ability when he is healthy. He truly is a deep threat over the middle and he has improved his blocking. He needs to stay healthy and become more consistent.

The third TE job will most likely go to Ben Steele, as long as he proves he can catch the ball consistently. He will be pushed by Sean McHugh, who caught a deep seam pass from Aaron Rodgers in the Thursday scrimmage against the Bills.

Offensive line
Even with the losses of G Marco Rivera and G Mike Wahle, this unit looks pretty deep. The line did struggle at times against the Bills, especially picking up blitzes, but it should improve over time with more repetitions.

Back are two of the best OTs in the game - LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher. Clifton and Tauscher rarely allow a sack and are solid run blockers. They are backed up by LT Brad Bedell and RT Kevin Barry. Bedell was having a very good camp until the hamstring injury. Barry is a bruising run blocker that the Packers utilize in their U-71 formation in short yardage situations. Back also is former Pro Bowl C Mike Flanagan. Flanagan appears to be back from the knee problems that cost him most of the 2004 season. Flanagan is the leader of this line and he will really help the two new Gs on the line.

Backing up Flanagan will be Scott Wells who looked very solid in the opportunities that he was given to play. C/G Grey Ruegamer did a very nice job replacing Flanagan at C last year, but will most likely play G this season as he looks to win a starting job there. He will be competing against G Matt O'Dwyer and G Adrian Klemm. O'Dwyer is very similar to Marco Rivera's bruising and tough nosed style. Coincidently, Klemm is very similar to the athletic Mike Wahle. Free agent G Atlas Herrion has been impressive, and started at right guard in the scrimmage against the Bills. Look for him to make the team.

The Packers also have several young OL they like. One is the very versatile rookie Junius Coston. Coston can play every postion on the OL. That could be key as the final cuts are made. A couple of other rookies, seventh round pick G Will Whitticker and undrafted C/G Chris White have made favorable impressions. Two other offensive linemen will have to work very hard to make the squad. G/T Steve Morley came into camp in 2004 highly regarded, but needs a huge camp to make the team. OT Brennan Curtin was good enough to make the team in 2003, but a severe knee injury put him on the shelf in 2004. So far, Curtin looks tentative, which is normal coming back from such an injury.

The bottom line is the Packers offense has the ability to be very explosive in 2005. The depth is very solid as well, with the exception of TE.

For the Packers to get to the Super Bowl, they will need to click on offense, defense and special teams. The offense should be the least of their worries.


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