Jackson a key for offense

The Green Bay Packers have opted to go with a young offensive backfield, which means rookie running back Brandon Jackson will have to produce immediately, says PackerReport.com correspondent Doug Ritchay.

The Green Bay Packers have taken a chance in the running game this off-season, going with young and unproven replacements for Ahman Green.

The way NFL drafts churn out running backs year after year, this may be the right way to go. Green is aging and better off to get rid of him now before he suffers a few flat tires and you're stuck with him.

Be that as it may, the running game has a question mark as big as Gilbert Brown's backside. Vernand Morency was a good backup last season and showed glimpses of potential. I am optimistic about Morency, but you never know, I've been wrong before. Beyond Morency, the Packers are counting on rookie Brandon Jackson.

I'm not worried about a rookie running back not being able to carry some of the load. It happens every year in the NFL, but the former Nebraska Cornhusker is falling behind in his off-season work.

He missed the team's mandatory minicamp May 18-20 because of an NFL marketing photo shoot for rookie players. During the current OTAs, he injured his knee earlier this week, albeit nothing serious, coach Mike McCarthy said.

It better not be.

Jackson will enter training camp as the most important rookie on the team's roster. Yes, Justin Harrell is the first-round pick, but the defensive line is the deepest position on the team. Jackson's importance is based on his possible impact he could have and his possible bust-potential.

Jackson needs to be ready, because even if Morency establishes himself as the starter, the Packers need a talented backup, one who can make things happen. One who can assume a big workload if Morency goes down.

If Jackson doesn't answer the bell, the Packers' running game could be in big-time trouble. He was drafted to help this season and the Packers need that.

Some may say Noah Herron showed some stuff last season, why not him? Here's why: He's doesn't possess the burst of Jackson or Morency, and if the Packers believed in him being the backup, why did they draft Jackson?

If Jackson can perform in training camp, the Packers' running game should complement the passing game. The offense needs balance and Jackson's two feet are the key. Morency could be a workhorse back, but in today's game — unless you have someone like LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson or Steven Jackson — you need two reliable runners. Right now, the Packers have possibly one and maybe one in the making. One player who would like to think he could be in the mix is seventh-round pick DeShawyn Wynn from Florida. Don't count on it.

Although talented, Wynn showed up at minicamp with a few extra pounds on him, which led to a hamstring injury. That injury seems to be gone, meaning the seventh-round pick now has to strut his stuff.

At his position, Wynn must participate as much as he can in team drills/ practices. Sitting around won't do it, not when you're a seventh-round pick, you're expendable.

McCarthy was asked about Wynn on Thursday after an OTA workout.

"It's been very positive, his experience has been very positive here since the day he's arrived," McCarthy said. "I have no issues with the way he's worked. He obviously had a setback with the injuries. But from his standpoint too, he's young and he probably recognizes his excellent opportunity, so he's done very well so far."


Wynn lost some of his load last season to freshman Percy Harvin, who could run like the wind. He was a key in the Gators' title win over Ohio State, while Wynn was a complement.

The opportunity is there, especially with Jackson hobbled, but Wynn couldn't hold off a freshman last year. Wynn needs to open eyes for him to have a chance to win a roster spot. Wynn led the National Champion Florida Gators with 721 rushing yards last season, but anybody who follows the college game knows that's a modest total for a premier running back. Wynn isn't a premier back, which means, much like Jackson, he needs to assert himself sooner rather than later.

Best-case scenario is this: Jackson plays up to his draft status, while Wynn becomes a future proposition.

Right now, the Packers would take that and run.

Doug Ritchay

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.

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