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  • Sat., Apr. 19, 2014 12:30PM - 3:00PM CDT Tailgate Tour: Merrill party

    The Green Bay Packers announced plans for the ninth ‘Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour,’ set for April 15-19. This year’s tour includes two stops in Michigan, in addition to three Wisconsin stops, to visit with fans and thank them in person for their support.

    Tour celebrities will include Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, players Jarrett Bush, Brad Jones and Mason Crosby, and Packers alumni Paul Coffman, Lynn Dickey and James Lofton.

    The tailgate parties will welcome the players and alumni arriving at each location at 6 p.m., and will run until 8:30 p.m., except in Merrill, where the tailgate party will take place from 12:30 to 3 p.m. A local non-profit organization will host each party which will feature food, giveaways, question-and-answer sessions and autographs. Tailgate party tickets cost $30.

    General admission tickets also will be available for $5, which includes access to the Q-and-A sessions as well as tailgate party activities. Food and beverage will be available for purchase. Due to space limitations, no general admission tickets will be available in Ironwood. 

    One hundred percent of the Tailgate Tour proceeds will benefit the hosting organizations.

    Tickets for the tailgate parties at all locations will go on sale Friday, Feb. 28. ‘Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour’ tailgate party locations, hosting organizations and ticket information are as follows:

    Merrill: MARC. To benefit Riverbend Trail. Tickets on sale at Merrill Chamber of Commerce, 705 N. Center Ave., Merrill; Dave’s County Market, 300 E. 1st St., Merrill; and Drew’s Piggly Wiggly, 3404 E. Main St., Merrill. Tickets also available online at www.merrillchamber.org.

  • Sat., Apr. 26, 2014 8:00AM - 6:00PM CDT Packers Pro Shop Tent Sale

    The sale is taking place earlier than in previous years, due to the construction at Lambeau Field and the work that the Pro Shop team must complete in preparation for the new store, which will open this summer. Visitors to Lambeau Field should enter the Atrium through the Oneida Nation Gate. Parking is available in the lot on Lambeau Field’s east side near the Oneida Nation Gate, which can be accessed off Oneida Street and Lombardi Avenue.

    The sale will feature the traditional mix of Pro Shop items greatly reduced in price and other special purchases.

    The team’s football operations staff also has provided Packers team apparel no longer in use, including a large assortment of t-shirts, shorts, jackets, jerseys and pants. Some items are practice-worn gear not normally available in the Pro Shop.

    The tent sale began in 1994 in the parking lot outside the former Pro Shop on the north end of Lambeau Field and grew into a popular event. Now in its 11th year in the Atrium, the tent sale also was held in the west side stadium concourse in previous years.

  • Sat., May. 10, 2014 7:00PM CDT Eddie Lacy appearance 22nd Annual Doug Jirschele Memorial Sports Award Banquet
  • Sat., Jun. 07, 2014 8:30AM - 3:30PM CDT JPP Kids Clinic

    The 17th annual Junior Power Pack Kids Clinic is set for Saturday, June 7, 2014 in the Don Hutson Center with sessions ranging from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    The Junior Power Pack Clinic gives members ages 5-14 years old the opportunity to practice football skills and drills with other Packers backers and a few up-and-coming Packers players.  Parents/Guardians are welcome to come and watch their child/ren participate in the clinic. 

    Members may choose one of three sessions to attend:

    • Session 1 – 8:30 to 10 a.m.
    • Session 2 – 11 to 12:30 p.m.
    • Session 3 – 2 to 3:30 p.m.

    The event will be held inside the Don Hutson Center, the Packers indoor practice facility. Parking for the event is available in the lot on Lambeau Field’s east side near the Oneida Nation Gate.  

    The Junior Power Pack Clinic is a member’s only event and will have a registration fee of $5.

    Deadline to register:

    • New Members – May 11, 2014
    • Current Members – May 18, 2014

    To sign up to become a member of the Junior Power Pack and receive an invitation to the clinic fans can go to www.packers.com/jpp.

  • Sat., Jun. 14, 2014 2:30PM CDT Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer

    The eleventh annual Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer motorcycle ride will be held, rain or shine, on Saturday, June 14, 2014. The ride will start at Vandervest Harley-Davidson (1966 Velp Avenue, Green Bay) and will make a fun-filled stop at the Seymour Fireman's Picnic, held at the Outagamie County Fairgrounds in Seymour.

    Ride Day Schedule

    • 9-10:30 am: Registration at Vandervest Harley-Davidson, Geen Bay
    • 11 am: Depart Vandervest Harley-Davidson, Green Bay
    • 12 pm: Arrive in Seymour. Enjoy food, beverages, entertainment and a short program.
    • 2:30 pm: Party kicks off at the new South Endzone Festival Foods MVP Deck at Lambeau Field! Guests can access the space by way of the Shopko Gate. See the field and enjoy the atmosphere from this beautiful indoor/outdoor space newly opened and accessed by very few. The party will include silent and live auction, food, beverages, music and merchandise available for purchase.

    More information: http://cruiseforcancer.org/




Point, counterpoint: Is back-by-committee best approach?

Posted Oct 16, 2012

Vic KetchmanPackers.com Editor Vic Ketchman says no.

Give me the old-fashioned workhorse running back, if you can find one, of course. Why do I prefer the dominant-back approach?

It’s all about familiarity and feel. Here are some examples:

  • It’s third-and-one and the quarterback detects a tendency by the defensive line that he wants to convey to his running back. They’ve developed a relationship that allows them a subtle-language communication, so the quarterback taps his hand on his hip, trusting that the back was looking for such a gesture. The quarterback has just slightly adjusted the hand-off to be a little wider than usual, or maybe he’s adjusted the play to bring the back a step closer to the line of scrimmage so he might hit the hole quicker. It can be the difference between converting the play or getting stuffed and having to punt.

  • After three quarters of hammering away at the defense, the back has noticed the hits he’s taking now aren’t the equal of what he received early in the game. He senses that the defense is tiring and he detects that the middle linebacker is beginning to cheat to one side or the other, based on what he’s reading from the offense, so the back attempts to influence the middle linebacker by taking a peak to the right, as though he’s unintentionally tipping the play. It’s gamesmanship and it can cause a run to break for a big gain and further fatigue the defense.

  • The right guard is dominating the defensive tackle opposite him, and the back knows that’s the place to go when he needs to gain a yard. On the goal line, with the game on the line, the back winks at the guard in the huddle and the two combine to clinch the win.

What I’ve described are hypotheticals in which familiarity breeds success. You might call it chemistry. Clearly, the great runners had a special feel and familiarity, a chemistry, with their teammates.

O.J. Simpson had it with the “Electric Company.” John Riggins had it with the “Hogs.” All great backs have enjoyed that kind of relationship with the men who’ve blocked for them.

When players know each other well enough that they can speak to each other with their eyes, or simply know how the other will react in a certain situation, the design of the play is fluid and the defense’s adjustments can be countered without having to stop the game.

That’s what you get with a workhorse running back. You don’t get that with the back-by-committee approach. Utility backs are little more than chess pieces.

There’s more.

By the time a back is carrying the ball for the 15th time in a game, he has a good feel for the defenders. He knows which ones like to square their shoulders when they tackle, and which ones are side tacklers.

He knows who the eye-closers and head-duckers are. A little wiggle and shake works best on them.

The back knows who the timid tacklers are. You drop your pads on them and they’ll stop showing up.

Utility backs don’t acquire that feel. For them, every defender is the same guy.

The workhorse back knows which defenders go for the strip and which defenders wrap their arms. He knows when to tuck the ball away and when he might drop it from his body and lengthen his stride. The utility back knows only to do as he’s taught and told.

You want depth at running back? Then go find a workhorse running back that’ll guarantee the guys behind him won’t get hurt because they won’t play.

I like that kind of running back.

Mike SpoffordPackers.com Staff Writer Mike Spofford says yes.

I understand the arguments about rhythm, timing, communication, and all of that. Those elements are invaluable and hard to quantify. I just prefer to have multiple backs involved in the game and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

That doesn’t mean the carries have to be split evenly or by a strict percentage breakdown. There’s no magic formula. You still need a lead guy, but there’s just something to be said for dividing the workload in a way that can keep your No. 1 fresh for the long haul, when more than 16 games is always the goal.

Being able to keep backs 1 and 1A a little fresher throughout the course of individual games can provide advantages, too.

If your main guy has carried the ball 12-15 times through 3½ quarters, rather than 22-25, he might be more effective and explosive in the clock-eating four-minute offense when trying to hold a lead. I’d rather have that than a back that is out of gas and needs to be replaced by a cold back when the tough yards are needed. Or have a back that refuses to admit when his tank is empty and be simply ineffective, or worse yet, make a critical mistake due to fatigue with the game in the balance.

Running back is the most punishing position to play in the game, in my opinion, and to have so much riding on one guy can throw everything off-kilter if he happens to go down.

That’s what happened to the Packers just two weeks ago in Indianapolis. Cedric Benson had been the workhorse through the first month of the season, in part because he was still getting accustomed to the offense, and vice versa. That approach was necessary given the circumstances, and it was working.

But when Benson got hurt and left the game, the entire offense lost its rhythm. Judging by the play selection, it appears the Packers weren’t comfortable turning Benson’s workload over to Alex Green, who had carried the ball just twice in the first four games, and not once over the previous two.

It’s hard to find fault with that line of thinking. Then, when the offense did get Green involved, his first four rushes against Indy went for 1, 1, minus-4 and minus-2 yards, which in essence is what was feared to begin with. The result was an 18-point halftime lead evaporating in 22 minutes, and the Packers were down by a point with eight minutes left.

The situation in Indy was a tough one, given the state of the offense with Benson at the time. I would just hate to see the Packers lose another game because the workhorse back goes down and the offense goes kaput because the next man up isn’t really ready to step in and carry out the game plan.

The best way to get him ready is to use him in games, so that’s why I prefer the backfield-by-committee approach, or more accurately, backfield-by-more-than-one. It doesn’t have to be a full stable of horses, but I don’t like the risk that goes with a lone ranger.

In a perfect world, you could blow teams out by 20 points on a regular basis and get that second back plenty of late-game, mop-up work, in case he’s ever needed when it matters. But the NFL is more down-to-the-wire than ever these days, as we all know, and if a full transition from 1 to 1A is ever required, it best be smooth and seamless.

Cast your vote in the poll on the right, please.

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