Monday, October 21, 2013

The 53 - Packers beat Browns at home

It is always great to see a game at Lambeau Field.  My last trip to Lambeau I saw the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs in a fairly ho-hum game before the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers on the road to end their 2012 season. 

My first trip to Lambeau this season to see the Packers take on the Cleveland Browns with cousin Joe (pictured later), Fernando (orange hat to the right), and Uncle Patty (middle on the right) felt pretty similar to the Packers/Vikings playoff game.  Sure the crowd was into it but the game felt fairly ho-hum after the Packers scored two early touchdowns against the Browns.  I know I sound like a jerk calling any game at Lambeau Field ho-hum so let me clarify, I mean the game itself NOT the experience because trust me there is no better place to see a sporting event in North America than Lambeau Field.  Finely's horrific injury in the fourth quarter cast a pall over the rest of the game as the Packers went on to beat the Browns comfortably.

After losing outside linebacker Clay Matthews to a thumb injury against the Lions and wide receiver Randall Cobb to a broken leg against the Ravens, Finley's spinal cord injury means that for the 3rd consecutive week the Packers won but lost a huge contributor to The 53.  With all the injuries to The 53, the Packers could barely field a healthy active 46-man gameday roster.  The following seven guys were inactive against the Browns due to various aliments: Casey Hayward (CB, hamstring), Brad Jones (MLB, hamstring), James Jones (WR, knee), Clay Matthews (OLB, thumb), Nick Perry (OLB, foot), James Starks (RB, knee), and Ryan Taylor (TE, knee).  That means the Packers had no healthy scratches for the first time (I think) in the 2013 season.

Sorting through all the changes to The 53 that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson made between their loss on the road to the Bengals to drop to 1-2 and their win over the Browns to improve their record to 4-2 is pretty complicated.  You will notice that I added some sections to the table below to help keep straight all the roster moves and injuries that have happened so far this season.  I will cover how Thompson added Chris Harper (WR), James Nixon (CB), Jake Stoneburner (TE), and Myles White (WR) to The 53 in their player descriptions below.  Here are my updated rankings and thoughts on certain players following the Packers/Browns game:

 The 53
1. Aaron Rodgers (QB, LR 1)
2. Clay Matthews (OLB, LR 2)
3. Morgan Burnett (S, LR 4)
4. Jordy Nelson (WR, LR 7)
5. Sam Shields (CB, LR 8)
6. Josh Sitton (G, LR 11)
7. B.J. Raji (DL, LR 6)
8. T.J. Lang (G, LR 10)
9. James Jones (WR, LR 9)
10. Tramon Williams (CB, LR 12)
11. David Bakhtiari (T, LR 13)
12. Evan Dietrich-Smith (C, LR 14)
13. Jermichael Finley (TE, LR 5)
14. Brad Jones (MLB, LR 15)
15. Eddie Lacy (RB, LR 20)
16. Nick Perry (OLB, LR 16)
17. A.J. Hawk (MLB, LR 25)
18. Casey Hayward (CB, LR 17)
19. Datone Jones (DL, LR 18)
20. Don Barclay (T, LR 22)
21. Micah Hyde (CB, LR 23)
22. Mike Daniels (DL, LR 27)
23. Tim Masthay (P, LR 19)
24. Davon House (CB, LR 38)
25. Johnny Jolly (DL, LR 24)
26. Ryan Pickett (DL, LR 21)
27. Jamari Lattimore (LB, LR 46)
28. Mason Crosby (K, LR 31)
29. Mike Neal (DL/OLB, LR 32)
30. Jarrett Bush (CB, LR 35)
31. Jarrett Boykin (WR, LR 37)
32. M.D. Jennings (S, LR 26)
33. Brett Goode (LS, LR 34)
34. James Starks (RB, LR 28)
35. Chris Banjo (S, LR 40)
36. C.J. Wilson (DL, LR 29)
37. Jonathan Franklin (RB, LR 33)
38. Andrew Quarless (TE, LR 41)
39. Marshall Newhouse (T, LR 43)
40. Andy Mulamba (LB, LR 47)
41. John Kuhn (FB, LR 42)
42. Jerron McMillian (S, LR 30)
43. Ryan Taylor (TE, LR 36)
44. Sam Barrington (LB, LR 48)
45. Seneca Wallace (QB, LR 45)
46. Nate Palmer (LB, LR 50)
47. Brandon Bostick (TE, LR 49)
48. Chris Harper (WR)
49. Josh Boyd (DL, LR 51)
50. Myles White (WR)
51. Lane Taylor (G, LR 52)
52. Jake Stoneburner (TE)
53. James Nixon (CB) 
Physically Unable to Perform
1. Jerel Worthy (DE)
2. Derek Sherrod (T)
3. JC Tretter (T)
4. Sean Richardson (S)
IR, Designated for Return
1. Randall Cobb (WR)
Injured Reserve
1. Bryan Bulaga (T)
2. DuJuan Harris (RB)
3. Robert Francois (MLB)
4. Greg Van Roten (C/G)
5. Kevin Dorsey (WR)
6. Sederrik Cunningham (WR)
1. Jeremy Ross (WR, Lions)
2. Michael Hill (RB, FA)
13. Jermichael Finley (TE, LR 5): It feels crass to move Finley down to 13 from 5 after being carted off the field on a stretcher with a horrific spinal cord injury but there is a chance that was Finley's last game in the NFL so 13 might even been too high since The 53 is my look at the trade value of every member of The 53.  Let's not forget that Finley suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago.  Following that incident Finley's son said that he did not want him to play football anymore so I can only imagine his entire family's reaction to his most recent injury.

15. Eddie Lacy (RB, LR 20): The Packers have a bruising running back for the first time since running back Ahman Green left town the first time.  I was fine with the Packers taking Lacy in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft so I thought they stole him in the second round.  Sure bruising running back's careers like Lacy's can be short because of their running style but seeing a punishing runner in Green Bay sure is a nice sight. I was bummed not to be able to get a Lacy kid's XL jersey at the game.  Normally I buy my jersey from the smaller Packer Pro Shop outside Mama Cheese's secretary's seats but they were not selling any Lacy jerseys there for some reason.  Now I have a few weeks to decide whether to go with Lacy or stick with wearing a t-shirt for the rest of this season.

17. A.J. Hawk (MLB, LR 25): As a native of Ohio, I think my cousin (pictured to the left in the top hat to the Lambeau Tuxedo) is obliged to like Hawk aka The Business H.J. because Hawk went to Ohio State.  With how well Hawk played the last few weeks, he is quickly trying to distance himself from the Business H.J. nickname.  My only question is why has this taken so long?  Usually players do not evolve in the 8th season in the NFL, all of a sudden Business H.J. has turned into at least Naughty H.J. and possibly more.  I guess better late than never.  Quick side note on the Browns, following the game my cousin Joe was convinced with a competent quarterback the Browns would have made it a game.  I don't deny that the Browns have a good defense but I am not sure that they are just a quarterback away from contending.  The one thing that I am sure of is that Brandon Weeden is not a good quarterback but I am not sure that is the only piece missing from their roster.  Oh and just to add insult to injury, Weeden is older than Rodgers despite the fact that this is his second season in the NFL (played five years of minor league baseball) while Rodgers is in his 9th year in the NFL.

31. Jarrett Boykin (WR, LR 37): With wide receiver James Jones most likely out at least one more week and wide receiver Randall Cobb out until at least mid-December, the Packers went from having arguably the most potent trio of wide receivers in the NFL to having Jordy Nelson and some unproven commodities.  As I've mentioned in the past, I have an off-the-field reason to like Boykin because he went to Virginia Tech where my sister-in-law is getting her Ph.D. After Boykin eclipsed 100 yards receiving and scored a touchdown, now I have an on-the-field reason to like him.  The next few weeks will be interesting to see if the Packers found another diamond in the rough in Boykin or if his performance against the Browns was just a one game aberration.

42. Jerron McMillian (S, LR 30): I gave McMillian the Defensive Trojan Boner of the Week Award against the Ravens and went so far as to say McMillian will be buried on the depth chart behind safety Chris Banjo.  Keep in mind that at one point in training camp Banjo was literally the 90th man signed to the roster and now he is on The 53 getting significant playing time.  Things have gotten so bad for McMillian that I could actually see the Packers activating safety Sean Richardson from the physically unable to perform list in place of McMillian as opposed to Banjo despite the fact that the Packers used a 4th round pick on McMillian in the 2012 NFL Draft and Banjo went undrafted in the same draft.

48. Chris Harper (WR): There was quite a string of moves to get Harper on The 53.  After the Seattle Seahawks picked Harper in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL they cut him before the start of the season.  The San Francisco 49ers claimed Harper off waivers but he never actually made 46-man gameday roster.  Meanwhile, the Packers signed running back Michael Hill to The 53 from the practice squad to fill the spot created by cutting wide receiver/kicker returner Jeremy Ross.  After being on The 53 the last two weeks, Thompson cut Hill because they needed a roster spot when they claimed Harper off waivers from the 49ers.  Although Harper didn't have a catch in against the Browns, look for him to serve a bigger role in the coming weeks as he actually learns the offense.

50. Myles White (WR): As I said in my advice for how to fill the open spot on The 53 after Thompson cut Jeremy Ross, if the Packers were going to add a wide receiver to The 53 I thought they should have signed wide receiver Tyronne Walker to The 53.  Apparently the Packers like White more than Walker though because although Walker is now on the practice squad, White is ahead of him on The 53 to fill the spot created by placing wide receiver Randall Cobb on injured reserve - designated for return after Cobb suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Ravens.  White has some big shoes to fill because the loss of Cobb is arguable the biggest loss to The 53 besides Rodgers and Matthews.

52. Jake Stoneburner (TE): After a lackluster end to his collegiate career at Ohio State due to some off the field issues, Stoneburner had a nice training camp to actually push for a roster spot on The 53.  The Packers kept Stoneburner on the practice squad and signed him to The 53 to fill the spot created by placing guard/center Greg Van Roten on injured reserve after he suffered a broken foot in practice.  Luckily Stoneburner has been around the team all season on the practice squad so look for him to play meaningful snaps following Finely's injury.

53. James Nixon (CB): After an up and down preseason the Packers decided to sign Nixon to the practice squad and promoted him to The 53 to fill the spot created by placing linebacker Robert Francois on injured reserve after Francois suffered a torn achilles tendon against the LionsThe Packers have so much depth on their roster at cornerback that I am shocked that Nixon is still on The 53 so look for his stay on The 53 to come to an end soon.

Check back next Monday because I am attending my second Packer game in a row, this time I get to see the last Packers/Vikings game in the Humpty with Gaber, Nick, and Sug.

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