Sydney Speaks! Youth Movement

Due to injuries at some positions and an overhaul at others, the Green Bay Packers have been playing with a number of younger players on both sides of the ball this season. Former Packers assistant coach and fullback Harry Sydney highlights some of the future stars for Green Bay in his column:

Even though this team is 2-7 and at the bottom of the division there are some excellent things happening. Guys are getting experience and that's a great thing. The only way that happens is when you get a chance to get on the field and play well. You can learn all kinds of things in meetings or at practice but there is nothing like game speed. Every off season we as the media and fans always have a lot of questions, but this year we are getting answers about who can play and who can't. So let's take a look at what we do know about the Packers Youth Movement!

OFFENSIVELY
Scott Wells: He should be the left guard of the future. He plays physical and smart. He runs very well and at the point of contact delivers a blow and moves people out. He uses his hands well on pass protection and because of his height he shows great leverage. Only time will tell just how good he will be!

Will Whitticker: He has size and strength and has gotten better throughout the year. He also plays very physical and run blocks very well. He has good feet for pass protection and a good understanding of the team's pass protection scheme. Also, he has faced the other team's best linemen every game and has stood his ground. True, early in the year he lost his confidence and made mistakes but he also was a seventh round draft pick starting in the NFL and playing against the best in the world. What a bright future this guy has! Trust me with him we will forget about Marco Rivera very soon!

Samkon Gado: He is a very hard-working young man that has made the most of his opportunity. One start, 100 yards and NFC player of the week. He runs very hard, especially when he runs downhill. He is a very good between-the-tackles runner. But he is not a starter. He will always be a quality backup and every team needs guys like him to fill in when the starter goes down. I also believe he could be an excellent kickoff returner, but I don't know that yet because I haven't seen him do it. But I do know that he plays hard and seems to have his priorities in order for such a young man.

Vonta Leach: He's an eager blocker that knows his role which is key. His job is to knock people out and lead the halfbacks to the promise land, not catch or run the ball. He also is a better-than-average special teams player. He is the heir apparent to William Henderson which is another plus because the knowledge that he can learn from the meetings as well as the conversation during the game are priceless. He is the fullback for the future in Green Bay, or until someone better comes along.

DEFENSE
Colin Cole: He's the guy that might make us forget about Grady Jackson. All he does is make plays and hustle. He brings the physical attitude to the field that I enjoy seeing. Also, he seems to be gaining confidence in every game. It's like he's starting to believe that he can play with the big boys. He also seems to really understand Jim Bates' defense and what's expected of him.

Cullen Jenkins: Although he's been inconsistent at times he always seems to come up with a play or two that makes the coaches and fans take notice. He may not be a future starter but his depth in the rotation of the defensive line is invaluable and he simply plays very hard when he's on the field.

Kenny Peterson: He is a player that again is a valuable member because of his ability to come off the bench and give quality minutes. Just like last week he caused a fumble because of his hustle which is what he brings to the table. He just needs to do it more consistently.

Roy Manning: In my opinion he is a diamond in the rough with unlimited potential. He's another guy that can be the cornerstone of the special teams. And at linebacker he brings a little attitude which is surely needed.

Brady Poppinga: He's the guy that I believe will be in the starting line-up next year because he has to be on the field. He plays the game very physically. Poppinga showed his speed when he almost ran down Michael Vick last game on the bootleg play. Excellent hustle and effort. And on special teams he is the leader. I really could see him as the starting middle linebacker next year if he can stay healthy.

Ahmad Carroll: Love him or hate him, he has played better. Once he learns how to change his attitude and stop the penalties, he might have a chance to be a better than average corner in the NFL. He has the speed. He just has to believe in his ability and have confidence in his skills because at corner there is no substitute for game experience. He's learning on the run which can only benefit the Packers in the long run.

Nick Collins: He is playing like a seasoned veteran. He has grasped the defense and has played with unbelievable confidence for someone coming from a small school. He has been a physical safety causing receivers to keep an eye on him when they run crossing routes. What a great draft choice!

Marviel Underwood: A guy with a lot of speed that has to learn how to play in the NFL.

As you can see the Packers have one heck of a young crop of players with true athletic ability. NO ONE wants to have to depend on a lot of young players to decide their fate, but then again no one expected them to be playing this well!


Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com, and he will forward it to him.


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