GREEN BAY – Answering your Green Bay Packers questions, five at a time …
Ryan: I am at a loss, too. You’re of course referring to Morgan Burnett, who signed a four-year, $24.75 million extension before last season and was part of a safety group that failed to intercept even one pass last season – making the Packers the only team in the league to fail to get at least one pick from their safeties. The coaches have long supported him through his up-and-down play, but I did think it was interesting earlier in camp when safeties coach Darren Perry wouldn’t flat-out say that Burnett would be one of the starters. When Perry said those things, you knew that it was a longshot that Burnett might actually be benched, but it at least showed that the coaching staff isn’t just supporting him no matter what anymore. Truth be told, the Packers have three young safeties that they like – first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, converted cornerback Micah Hyde and an emerging Sean Richardson – and have to think about giving playing time to. (And Chris Banjo has been very good on special teams and seems likely to make the roster, too.) While I expect Hyde to hold onto the starting job alongside Burnett, you don’t draft Clinton-Dix in the first round to sit the bench. My gut tells me that this is a make-or-break year for Burnett, and the coaches are giving him one last chance to be the player they believe he is. (I still don’t understand why he hasn’t been more of a playmaker, considering he had 14 interceptions in three years at Georgia Tech.) Nagged by ankle and oblique injuries in preseason, it wouldn’t surprise me if he suffered another injury and one of the other safeties played so well in his place that he couldn’t get his job back. But we’ll see.
Joe: Sherrod’s the guy at both tackle spots. I know it felt like we made too big of a deal about Don Barclay’s season-ending knee injury, but the guy really was the offensive line’s sixth man. He could play both guard spots, was obviously experienced at right tackle and played left tackle throughout college at West Virginia, which isn’t exactly Green Bay Preble High School. That said, it seemed the coaches wanted Sherrod to be the backup to David Bakhtiari on the left side, and he was working there exclusively until Barclay’s injury. I personally don’t know what to think about Sherrod. He’s added a ton of strength, is enormous (6-foot-6, 321 pounds) and has very good feet. But it’s been forever since he played in a game that counted – Dec. 18, 2011 – and with center JC Tretter now out for up to six weeks, the last thing the Packers would need would be to lose a tackle. Maybe Sherrod would rise to the occasion, but I don’t think they want to find out.
@jasonjwilde why not bring back ryan Pickett?????— Erik Jon (@eswenson10) August 25, 2014
Erik: I liked Ryan Pickett, too. But the Packers are trying something different on their defensive line this year, and Pickett doesn’t fit the taller, leaner mold they’re going for. Look at Datone Jones (6-4, 285), Josh Boyd (6-3, 310), Khyri Thornton (6-3, 304), Letroy Guion (6-4, 315) – they’re not built like Pickett, who was 6-2 and 340 pounds, which may have been kind. He just doesn’t fit the body type they’ve chosen to go with. While Mike Daniels (6-0, 304) is squatty, he’s the exception. Even though they brought back B.J. Raji (6-2, 337), they seemed to have him slimmed down and in better shape than in years past. That doesn’t mean that this is the right way to go, with lighter and supposedly quicker down linemen, but that’s the approach they’ve decided to take. We’ll see whether it’s the right call, but with Raji out for the year with that torn biceps, the only true nose they have is undrafted rookie Mike Pennel (6-4, 332).
Carson: I’m keeping Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Now, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky did find out from the league office that Tolzien would still be eligible for the practice squad, as preposterous as that may seem. But I don’t envision a scenario where he’d make it through waivers unclaimed. He’s got too much potential and showed it last year when he started. It’s the old Steve “The Homer” True rule – judge a young player based on when he’s good, not when he’s bad. And there were times when Tolzien was good last year, and he’s had a heck of a training camp. That said, I like Flynn if something happens to Rodgers, and I like Tolzien as a long-term backup. At least for this year, I want all three, since I believe they are among the team’s 53 best players. That said, the tight end position still makes me nervous. Richard Rodgers, Brandon Bostick, Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor, to me, are the four who stick. But with Bostick’s injury, do you have to keep Jake Stoneburner on the 53 for the first week or two, until Bostick’s leg injury heals? Maybe. My out-of-the-blue surprise cut would be Quarless, who had a quiet camp, although he does lead the team in preseason receiving with five catches for 64 yards following Chris Harper’s release. But I still think that’s unlikely. Whatever happens, if they do only keep two quarterbacks, my gut tells me they keep the guy with the higher ceiling, and that’s Tolzien.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.