Green is Houston. Henderson, released by the Packers in March, is adjusting to life after football, though, still keeping himself in shape and hanging around Green Bay ‘just in case' another team comes calling, or the Packers need a fullback.
Unless the Packers swing a deal for a veteran running back like Larry Johnson or Corey Dillon, Green Bay will go with a young, untested backfield that features Vernand Morency, Brandon Jackson, and Noah Herron at running back, and Brandon Miree and DeShawn Wynn at fullback. All five players have a total of six starts in the NFL careers. Miree is the ‘veteran' of the group with three NFL seasons under his belt. The others have two or less. All five players are not locks to make the 53-man roster, but they represent the leading candidates to fill the usually five backfield spots.
Morency, Jackson and Herron are all one-cut backs who should be able to excel in Green Bay's zone-blocking offensive scheme. Morency and Herron made the most of their opportunities to play last season, which is probably why general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy feel they can pick up where Green left off. In two games that Green missed with a hamstring injury, both Morency and Herron combined to average 100-plus yards per game. Morency also averaged a whopping 9.2 yards per carry while gaining 101 yards in a blowout win against the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks later.
Miree gradually took over for Henderson last year as the team's top fullback, and Wynn has the ability to play both fullback and halfback in the offense.
Morency Jackson and Herron will be challenged by second-year pro P.J. Pope. With a good training camp, Pope might be able to unseat Herron as the team's No. 3 back, but that's a longshot. Both Morency and Jackson possess the quickness and burst that should give them the ability to break off some big runs behind an offensive line that gradually improved during the 2006 season.
The Packers selected Boise State linebacker Korey Hall in the sixth round of the NFL draft in April. Hall, a special teams demon, is in the process of learning the fullback position. If all goes well, he may be able to make the 53-man roster by beating out Wynn or Miree. If not, he may wind up on the team's eight-man practice squad. It all depends on how Hall blocks and catches passes out of the backfield in training camp.
Rookie free agents Ryan Powdrell and Corey White will be trying to make the team at fullback, but their only chance of sticking with Green Bay will be on the practice squad.
Here is an early bird prediction of the five positions that will be filled in Green Bay's offensive backfield:
1. Vernand Morency
2. Brandon Jackson
1. Brandon Miree
2. DeShawn Wynn
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.