Packer Report chat: OTA edition

You had questions and Bill had answers as we talked Packers after Thursday's first open practice of organized team activities. Join us for our next chat on Wednesday night, June 10, following the third open practice of OTAs.

Any ideas on what is keeping Aaron Kampman silent?

Bill: None. All you can assume is he's less than thrilled about the move, either because he doesn't think it suits him or he thinks it will hurt him financially when he's a free agent after this season.

Any possibility of a trade or is it way to early to judge?

Bill: I can't see any reason why they'd trade him. He's out there practicing and he looks fine out there. It's not like I looked at him today and didn't think he belonged at the position. It's hard to say why he's not talking. It's not like him.

How did Justin Harrell look in OTAs?

Bill: Harrell looked OK. He was the starting RDE with Jenkins out. One thing I learned is the coaches consider him a really smart player. Trgovac said something to the effect that Harrell is the type of guy who won't make the same mistake twice and he's always trying to learn more about the scheme.

Does it also make Donald Driver look bad that he wants more money again?

Bill: What can you say? There are a lot of people hurting out there. To see multimillionaires squawking for more money just seems out of place. At the same time, the Packers are $30 million under the cap and DD knows other guys are looking for money, too.

Any chance Kampman is traded once they see he's a liability on passing downs?

Bill: I don't see Kampman being a liability on passing downs. Too good a pass rusher, obviously, and he's a lot better athlete than people think. He'll be fine, to use Kevin Greene's phrase of the day.

Kampman for Julius Peppers & some dough?

Bill: Peppers has never played 3-4 OLB either. Who's to say he'd be any good at it? He's 15 pounds heavier than Kampman.

Kampman has all the tools to rush the QB but what about coverage? Does he have the speed to cover?

Bill: It's short range stuff where he'd be covering. I'm sure he won't be an all-star at it, but he just has to be good enough that he won't be a liability when he's back there. Most of the time, he's going to be coming, because probably more than half the time, he'll be in his old role at DE. That's why I'm confused about Kampman, assuming he's actually irked by this. They've said all along that 3-4 is the base defense. Most of the subpackages will be four-man lines, which is what he's always done.

How did Brady Poppinga do in practice today?

Bill: Interestingly, Clay Matthews III was out. The No. 1 defense had Jeremy Thompson at linebacker, with Poppinga with the second-teamers. I'm not sure if that means Poppinga is actually a third-stringer with Matthews healthy. I didn't get much of an answer when I asked.

Who do you see as the receivers we actually keep on the game day roster. I'm hearing that Simmons is too big?

Bill: Jamarko Simmons is an interesting guy. Obviously, he broke Jennings' records at Western Michigan and lit up Vontae Davis when they played Illinois this year. Simmons is about 6-2, 230. He wants to get down about 10 pounds. Great hands, that's for sure. Martin is solid though. He'll be tough to unseat just because Martin fills a role as the No. 5. But I like Simmons. Wrote about him a few days ago. He'll be here in some capacity, either as the No. 5 or on the practice squad. Amazing productivity and his size is obviously an asset.

How did the offense look?

Bill: Offense really struggled. It was their second day out there and the defense is blitzing from every which way. Pretty tough to handle that so early in the offseason.

Biggest surprise in terms of players performances today?

Bill: The tight end from Michigan, Butler, made a heck of a good catch on a deep ball. And that Jeremy Thompson was working with the starters. Greene said some good things about him.

My buddy is a scout on the team, said Butler could be a huge steal.

Bill: Butler has everything you want. Just didn't do a darned thing in college other than aggravate his coaches. He could be a steal though. He's 6-4, can run and catch. Good combo if he gets it.

How did the fullback from LSU do?

Bill: Didn't notice Quinn Johnson doing much. He's the No. 3 behind Hall and Kuhn. It's hard to say with fullbacks. This half-speed stuff really isn't relevant for them. At least with the linemen, you can learn a little this time of year. With fullbacks, who are going to be running full speed into someone, you can't learn a thing until training camp. Good hands though, considering he didn't catch the ball much in college.


QB Brian Brohm
Otto Gruele Jr./Getty Images
How did Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm look?

Bill: Flynn and Brohm were up and down. It's tough for those guys. They're running a lot of offense with a bunch of guys who just got the playbook last month. Brohm at least threw it better than what I saw at times last year.

With the change of emphasis from finesse to beef on the offensive line, do they go more power or more of the same poorly executed zone?

Bill: I'm wondering about the beef too, and asked about it during the draft. They say it's just a coincidence and they're still looking for athletic guys, and that it just so happens that T.J. Lang is athletic at 315. They ran more power last year, and I assume you'll see more of it if Johnson makes the lineup.

What's up with Atari Bigby?

Bill: Bigby is out with an ankle, though he was out there doing some of the walk-through drills. He'll be in the Polamalu role as the eighth-in-the-box guy. Really fits his style of play nicely. Defense suffered without him last year, that's for sure.

With Tramon's new deal, would you say that he's a shoe in for nickel

Bill: Tramon Williams is definitely a shoo-on. He really had a heck of a good season, and I just haven't seen enough out of Blackmon and Lee to make me think either one can challenge. Lee made a nice play on a deep ball today.

Just one K in camp? No challenge for Crosby ... he could use a little push...

Bill: Yeah, just Mason Crosby. Three punters and one kicker. Crosby is really talented. Why he didn't take a step forward last year was mystifying to me. If he struggles, I can see them bringing in another. At this point though, I guess they're happy with him. I can't say I disagree with you though. With rosters limited to 80 players, I guess that's part of it.

From watching practice today how does coach Kevin Greene come across as a coach?

Bill: Greene is awesome. A joy to talk to. I'll have a Q&A or something with Greene, perhaps tomorrow or the weekend. He even talked about some of the secrets of the trade if I agreed to turn off my tape recorder. Which, of course, I did, or he'd tackle me. Really intense and funny. I know football but will never pretend I'm an expert in all the nuances. So, for Kevin to volunteer some tricks of the trade, I was grateful. I left today feeling smarter about the game. One thing he said is this was THE job for him; that he had no interest in other offers over the years. He didn't say why, thought I assume it was the chance to work with Capers.

How do the defensive players seem to adjusting and learning the 3-4 defense?

Bill: It's hard to answer because I'm just learning how things should look, too. McCarthy said there were 22 mental errors by the defense on Wednesday, so I assume that means they're struggling. Which is what you'd expect. It's interesting to watch, I'll say that. You know Bob Sanders' defense. Very conservative. Not much blitzing. This defense just looks like chaos. There are people coming on every play. I think our offense will be sharper for having to deal with this every day. Heck, they had Tramon Williams blitzing at one point.

That's only great if they tackle people ...

Bill: Exactly. Scheme is all well and good. Players win games. So that's a great reminder for all of us. The good thing about the 3-4 is the extra linebackers. That's a lot more speed for defense and special teams. That's the one reason why I like the 3-4 over the 4-3. Which defense is better? Neither, because if one was superior, everyone would run it. Special teams is where I see the big benefit.

How did B.J. look?

Bill: Hard to say because the linemen aren't going live. Even the one-on-one pass-rush drills were focusing more on technique than actually beating the other guy. Raji spent most, if not all, of this time at left defensive end.

Brandon Underwood ... safety or corner?

Bill: Definitely a corner. Great height, length and speed. He'll be a corner unless he bombs. I think he could be a steal, just from watching the rookie camp. He's still in school so he's not there until mid-June.

Any street free agents catching your eye?

Bill: Yeah, one is Ronald Talley, the DE from Delaware that I wrote about a week or two ago. He was billed as someone who's really good against the run, and that's what I've seen so far. Butler, the TE we were talking about earlier, I'd put in that group. I didn't see enough of the receivers to say much about Simmons and Heckendorf.

Saw a lot of Sutton at Northwestern. I think he might stick.

Bill: I've caught some grief in the forums, but I think Sutton will make the team. He's such a polished receiver, and the Packers don't have a back who scares anyone as a receiving threat. Plus, they see him as a kickoff returner, and the Packers ranked dead last in the NFL in that last year.

I don't see the need to have a great receiving threat coming out of the backfield. Why throw to the running backs when we have Jennings/Driver/Nelson/Jones?

Bill: Because on third-and-5 you can keep the back in the backfield and defenses have to at least consider a draw play is an option. If your back can't make a play, then you have to put extra receivers. Defenses can blitz the crap out of that. And if you can swing a back into the flat, that takes a linebacker out of position, and maybe you can slip a receiver into that spot. And outside of Grant's TD at Chicago last year, I can't think of a good screen in the last two years. Not all the RB's fault, but the guys they have can't seem to follow a block.

How does Jarius Wynn look?

Bill: I like Wynn. He's the one draft pick I just didn't understand. I understand it now. He's sneaky quick and has a knack for beating blocks. Again, got to preface that by saying these aren't full-speed practices.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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