Packers are on the clock

Players who can help make impact for Green Bay in 2006

The 2005 Green Bay Packers are 2-10 as their season winds down. Playoff hopes have long faded and now the coaching staff needs to keep the team focused and at the same time evaluate young talent. The focus appears to be there as the team continues to play hard week after week. Crucial mistakes have been this team's downfall as the Packers could very well be 6-6 or better if not for breakdowns in key situations. But the Packers are where they are and the coaching staff has to look at the younger players as the team prepares for 2006.

That process is ongoing as rookie guard Will Whitticker has regained his spot as a starter from Grey Ruegamer. The Packers also will be starting rookie Brady Poppinga at outside linebacker Sunday. Nick Collins has done a very nice job as a rookie starter at safety this year and the Packers will be giving fellow defensive back rookies Mike Hawkins and Marviel Underwood some quality playing time as well in the defensive backfield. In addition, the Packers will be giving rookie defensive end Mike Montgomery some more reps down the stretch.

Then there is the question of rookie quarterback Aaron Rodgers. When does he get some reps this year? First off, most believe that Brett Favre will return in 2006 to help get things turned around with a healthier squad and more talent surrounding him. The Packers should try and get Rodgers some playing time down the stretch, but it should happen at the right time. Rodgers might get a lot of action in the season finale against Seattle. The Seahawks will have probably clinched home field advantage in the NFC by then and the game will be treated as a pre-season game by Mike Holmgren. I could see the Packers treating it the same way. Favre would get the start but would eventually give way to Rodgers and possibly even Craig Nall.

There is also a lot of speculation regarding who the Packers may select in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft. I have compiled a list of candidates that I feel would fit in nicely as a member of the Green Bay Packer organization. The first one is obvious.

RB Reggie Bush (USC)
The Packers probably can only get Bush if they have the first overall pick in the draft. Bush could help the Packers out in many ways. He is explosive in the three stages of running, receiving and returning. Bush is the second coming Gale Sayers. Enough said.

RB Laurence Maroney (Minnesota)
Maroney is physical and fast running back that can overpower opponents. He has game breaking running ability and he tends to wear down defenses.

RB Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin)
Many believe that Calhoun will opt for the NFL after the Capital One Bowl. Calhoun would be a perfect fit for the Packer offense. He is an elusive running back as well as an excellent receiver.

Bottom line, the Packers couldn't go wrong with any of these backs as draft choices. That way, the Packers would have very good depth at running back with Samkon Gado, one of the rookies and a short term agreement with either Ahman Green or Najeh Davenport. The Packers have the hammer in the contract negotiations with UFA's Green and Davenport because of their injury situations. Tony Fisher would also still be in the picture.

There are three other players that stand out to me that the Packers might consider as first round picks next year depending on where they are picking and who is off the board. They would be linebacker A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, defensive end Tamba Hali of Penn State and defensive back Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech. Any of the three would add some top quality talent to the defense of the Packers.

Bob Fox is a longtime Packers fan and freelance writer from the Tampa, Fla. area.

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