Pack unanimous pick to repeat as NFC North ChampsWisconsin Sports
--The Green Bay Packers are the favorites to repeat as the champions of the NFC North Division. That’s according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel survey of three NFL scouts. They unanimously picked Green Bay to lead the division with a record of 13-3.
The Green Bay Packers are the favorites to repeat as the champions of the NFC North Division. That’s according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel survey of three NFL scouts. They unanimously picked Green Bay to lead the division with a record of 13-3.
Two of the scouts picked Detroit to finish second at 10-6. One scout picked Chicago to take second, but the others had the Bears third with an average predicted record of 9-7. They unanimously agreed that Minnesota would be last at 6-10. The scouts also noted that the North has shed its reputation as the cold-weather “Black-and-Blue division.” They said offenses will again reign supreme, with all four teams having young-and-productive quarterbacks and some of the top receivers in all of pro football. The scouts also said the four North teams all have a deep shortage of defensive backs. One of the scouts predicted that one of the Wild Card playoff teams would come from the NFC North – most likely Detroit or Chicago.
The Packers open their regular season on Sunday at home against San Francisco. And one of Green Bay’s major issues involves second-year receiver and kick returner Randall Cobb. Special teams’ coordinator Shawn Slocum says Cobb needs to get better at protecting the ball. He muffed two punts a year ago, and he fumbled the ball on a runback. During the pre-season, Cobb fumbled the ball away after catching a pass. Slocum says he believes Cobb is on the right track – but he needs to realize that quote, “Ball security is Number-One.” Cobb says he’s working on it – and he’s his biggest critic. Cobb scored two touchdowns on kick returns during his rookie year in 2011. The Packers will hold a light practice today, and then announce their first regular season injury report. Running back James Starks has been ruled out with his lingering turf-toe. Linebacker Jamari Lattimore is not expected to play either, after he missed yesterday’s practice with a bad ankle. The so-called “walking wounded” were limited at practice – including tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Robert Francois, and rookie safety Sean Richardson. Nose tackle B.J. Raji was a full participant, after he tweaked an ankle last Thursday night in an exhibition against Kansas City.
Only two Green Bay Packers did not practice yesterday, as the team had its only workout in full pads this week in preparation for their regular season opener. Inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore sat out with an ankle injury. Running back James Starks has already been ruled out of Sunday’s home match-up with San Francisco due to a lingering turf-toe injury. Rookie safety Sean Richardson returned from a bad hamstring, and he went full tilt during the part of the session that was open to reporters. Corner Davon House also practiced. He was expected to wear a harness to protect the dislocated shoulder he suffered at training camp.
The Green Bay Packer offense is shaking off a rather sluggish preseason, as it gets ready to start the regular season on Sunday at home against San Francisco. The Number-One offense led by Aaron Rodgers had 77 snaps in their four exhibition games with 392 yards and 24 points on the board. By contrast, the Packers had 77 snaps against the Giants in New York last December – the most snaps in a single game last season. They gained 57 more yards in that game than in the identical number of preseason snaps, while scoring 14 more points. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga said the Packers made strides in each game last month, and they brought some good momentum into Sunday’s contest against the 49’ers – the first one that actually counts. Turnovers are one area the Packers are concerned about. They committed four of them in the preseason, after having just 14 giveaways in their 16 regular season contests a year ago. Coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers needed to protect the ball better during the preseason – and it remains a focus of the squad every day at practice.