Sydney Speaks! No longer rookies's Harry Sydney assesses the progress of the rookies and other young players who have had starting roles this season for the Packers and explains why the experience they have been receiving is invaluable.

This has been a long year for many of the players that the Packers have had to count on. When some of these players were drafted I don't think in their wildest imagination they envisioned playing so much so soon, and in major roles. Even though this team is sitting at 5-8 with three games left, we must look at what it has done. Remember, for some, their college season was over a while ago!!!!!!!

First, let's visit the offensive line where lately the Packers have had three rookies starting and, not only starting, but protecting the living legend Brett Favre. So not only have they been starting in the National Football League, but they have had all the eyes of the national media watching everything they have done, so they have had to grow up in front of the football world.

These young guys have nowhere to hide, and the best thing about it is that they haven't tried to hide. Everyone has made excuses for their youth, except them, which to me is one heck of a building block for the future of this organization.

Daryn College has grown the most, and not because of his technique, but because he seems to have changed his attitude. When he came in he had the tackle mindset, but the more he played guard, the more he started to show an aggressive side that I wasn't sure he had early in the season. I'm glad for the Packers' sake he has shown somewhat of a mean streak which a starting guard in the NFL has to have.

Then you have Jason Spitz. Even though I think he has played a little better than average, he needs to be more physical at the point of attack.

Alongside of Spitz you have Tony Moll, who is that jack of all trades guy and master of none. The line is anchored by Scott Wells, who could be the cornerstone for the future.

Are these linemen the best in the world? No, but are they supposed to be? As young as they are? The more they play the better they will be and if they can stay healthy I think this offensive line is in good hands. Think about it, these guys have only had one training camp under their belt. If the organization gets some more quality linemen to add to the competition in the off-season, it will only make the line better.

Jennings takes control of No. 2 spot
We all know about Donald Driver and what he is doing, but across from him there is Greg Jennings, who has hit the wall, but is still producing even though he has been injured for a while. I don't think he has ever recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in October. But for a rookie his pass route running ability is better than some veterans that play throughout the league. When he came into minicamp he showed his ability right away. When everyone was looking to see who would line up across from Donald Driver he took control of that position enough for them to finally weed out Robert Ferguson.

One of the hardest positions in the NFL to come in and be successful as a rookie is at wide receiver, and I believe his numbers would be so much better if he hadn't been injured.

Offensively, regardless of what happens the rest of the year, there are some rookies that have earned their keep. Because of guys like Greg Jennings, Tony Moll, Daryn Colledge, and Jason Spitz, this team won't have as far to go as it thought it would have at the beginning of the year.

Hawk lives up to expectations
On the defense, A.J. Hawk has played like a solid veteran, and he is the defensive player of the year for the Green Bay Packers because of his consistency. At this point he is No. 10 in the National Football League when it comes to tackles with three games to go, which is outstanding. He has come in and taken the leadership role on the team, but he's too young and humble to realize it.

I am so impressed by the fact that when he makes a play there is no dancing, or craziness. He acts like he has been playing at this level for 10 years. He is fundamentally sound against the run and pass and just might be the Packers' best blitzer. He has a nose for the football. Rarely do you have a young linebacker that has delivered what has been asked of him.

The other rookie linebacker that for some reason has been held back is Abdul Hodge. I believe if given playing time this team would have two of the more physical young backers in the game. Rookies need experience and I believe for some reason they didn't want to hurt Nick Barnett's feelings or something because I haven't seen Barnett do anything that Hodge couldn't especially when it comes to playing physically. That's why I'm really confused as of late because this staff is saying that a one-armed Nick Barnett who struggles with tackling and playing a physical brand of football is better for this team than a healthy Abdul Hodge. If something is wrong with Hodge, it would be nice to know so this move would make sense to the football world.

Also, remember that Brady Poppinga is only in his second year. He's not a rookie but still another bright future.

We all have heard over and over how young this team is, but these young guys are getting something that is so valuable, which is playing time experience, because back in the old days a rookie never played on the good teams. All they did was watch the game and take notes, but not on the Packers because they are NO LONGER ROOKIES.

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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