Commentary

The Green Bay Packers have had a very busy off-season and draft in 2002.<p>

The Packers have added WR Terry Glenn via trade. The Packers then added DE Joe Johnson and LB Robert Jones via free agency. The team was able to resign FB William Henderson, OL Mike Wahle, OL Earl Dotson, and DT Gilbert Brown. The Packers also added some talent in the draft with the likes of WR Javon Walker, S Marques Anderson, and FB Najeh Davenport. The Packers suffered some losses as well, but overall the talent on the roster has been enhanced.

Green Bay still has a few pieces of the puzzle to complete. On defense, the Packers are stronger on the defensive line, and still have good depth in the secondary. The linebacker position is still thin at depth. LB Nate Wayne is trying to bounce back from knee surgery. LB Na'il Diggs is hoping for better health himself in 2002 after an injury plagued 2001 season. MLB Bernardo Harris was released, and the best backup LB, Chris Gizzi, is trying to return after back surgery. The Packers are confident that LB Torrance Marshall can step up and replace Harris in the middle, but he'll have to beat out Jones and possibly Hardy Nickerson. Nickerson is expected to be released by Jacksonville on June 1. There are no worries about Marshall's athleticism, but there is concern about his mental preparation. Nickerson is up there in age, but he can still play. He had a very solid 2001 season for the Jaguars, and he knows the one gap defense that the Packers employ very well. Nickerson is never out of position, and he would be an excellent tutor for Marshall.

On offense, the Packers have upgraded the wide receiver position. There is no doubt that the additions of Glenn and Walker, plus the return of Robert Ferguson, Donald Driver, and Charles Lee will be fun to watch. The problem is that none of those wide receivers has extensive playing experience in the West Coast offense. Also, none of those receivers know Brett Favre's tendencies. Favre has said he loves the new talent at wide receiver. Favre also said that this group of wide receivers may be more talented than the 1996 group that won a Super Bowl. Favre also said he wants Antonio Freeman back. Freeman knows the west coast and he knows Favre. Glenn and Ferguson will need time to fully understand their assignments and Favre's thought patterns. Freeman does understand those things, and that is why he should be brought back. Freeman kept his mouth shut in 2001 and played hard. He looked All-Pro in the playoffs. Ferguson will be a fine WR some day, but the Packers need to have consistency at WR, and Freeman will bring that.

The Packers also need a reliable backup to RB Ahman Green. The team would love to bring back RB Dorsey Levens, but Levens is looking for more playing time and more money. There has been some interest in Levens on the market, but so far no one is willing to pay Levens the type of money he is looking for. Levens would be wise to return to Green Bay. He knows the offense as well as anyone, including Favre. The Packers would be wise to devise more ways to get Levens on the field. I love what William Henderson brings to the table, but I still think that a Green/Levens combination is needed more often.

Finally, the Packers need to resolve the return game. If Levens is signed, he would be one kick returner. The punt return job is up for grabs. WR Robert Ferguson and S Scott Frost are the current front runners for that position. If Freeman returns to the team, then Ferguson can concentrate more on punt returning. The bottom line is the Packers have to get their return game in order.

We all will know soon enough if the Packers will make these moves. The team is talented ... but the team also needs veteran leadership. Nickerson, Freeman, and Levens will all provide that.


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