Saturday, November 15, 2014

Building The 53 - Tretter & Perillo In, Meredith In then Out, Sherrod & Dorsey Out

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is churning the bottom of The 53 due to injuries that backups suffered at offensive line, tight end, and wide receiver.  Sadly the most notable of the churn is offensive lineman Derek Sherrod who joins wide receiver Terrance Murphy as a bust*.  I put the * after bust because neither of them had a long injury history in college before a freak injury early in their NFL careers ended them essentially before they started.  All busts are NOT created equally though.  Juxtapose Murphy and Sherrod with defensive lineman Justin Harrell who had a long injury history before Thompson drafted him with the 16th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.  As a result, I will give Thompson a pass on Murphy and Sherrod but not on Harrell.

After spending just a couple weeks on The 53, Thompson placed wide receiver Kevin Dorsey on injured reserve.  Rookie Jared Abbrederis's season was over before it started after he tore his ACL in the preseason.  That means that the Packers have now put two wide receivers on injured reserve this season.  Hopefully both guys will push each other in the off-season to get healthy for 2015. Thompson drafted Abbrederis in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft while Thompson drafted Dorsey in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft so given that Thompson drafted Abbrederis higher and more recently than Dorsey, it looks like Abbrederis will be given a better chance to make The 53 in 2015.  In terms of their specific skill sets, they are similar players although Dorsey is slightly bigger than Abbrederis.  Despite the Wisconsin connection, I like Dorsey slightly more than Abbrederis given how many injuries Abbrederis suffered throughout his decorated collegiate career at Wisconsin and his brief professional career so I hate to put too much stock in such an injury prone guy.

Thompson does not often sign guys that played for other NFL teams but let's not forget that offensive lineman Jamon Meredith started his career in Green Bay before he spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Indianapolis Colts before he returned to the Packers.  I viewed adding Meredith to The 53 as a positive move mostly because he is more NFL ready than the backup offensive lineman on The 53 (Garth Gerhart, Lane Taylor, and J.C. Tretter) or anyone on the practice squad.  As it turns out, Meredith's stay on The 53 was one of the shortest in team history so Thompson did not share my view.

Thompson added tight end Justin Perillo from the practice since the Packers only had two healthy tight ends on The 53 in Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers given that Brandon Bostick is currently injured.  Some thought Perrillo deserved a spot on The 53 to start the season after how well he performed in the preseason.  I am not sure I would go that far but now Perrillo has a chance to prove me wrong.

Thompson activated offensive lineman JC Tretter from injured reserve designated for return.  Apparently the Packers view Tretter as a Don Barclay-esque backup given that he is reportedly getting reps at all five offensive line positions.  Given that Tretter has been hurt since Thompson drafted him in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft, I would have him focus on one or two spots where the Packers currently have the least depth (either tackle position) instead of overwhelming him with limited reps at all five offensive line spots.

You can rationalize each move to The 53 in a vacuum but not when you look at The 53 as a whole since none of the moves to The 53 address the lack of bulk along the defensive line, which is problematic given that the defensive line is the biggest reason why the Packers allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL so far this season. Along the defensive line the Packers have leaned heavily, no pun intended, on Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion.  After that Josh Boyd and Datone Jones (when healthy) have been the 3rd and 4th options.  That leaves Mike Pennel and Luther Robinson bringing up the rear.  Both Pennel and Robinson are nice stories but they've yet to produce any real tangible results outside of Robinson's pressure that lead to a pick-six by Peppers.  This season the Packers have used more athletic, lean guys along the defensive line and it has lead to a porous rush defense.  That is a long way of saying that the Packers could use another run stuffing body in the middle so if Thompson is open to adding former Packers, how about bringing Johnny Jolly back?

Hopefully injuries do not force Thompson to make any more changes to The 53.  If Thompson is forced to make changes, check back for full coverage in this space.

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