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Indianapolis makes off-season deal to help defense

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  • Indianapolis makes off-season deal to help defense

    Colts get third-year defensive lineman from Packers

    By Tom James/Tribune-Star correspondent/Indianapolis

    July 9, 2004

    In an effort to help bolster their defensive line depth, the Indianapolis Colts traded for former Green Bay Packers defensive end Jamal Reynolds on Thursday.

    Indianapolis swapped a future undisclosed draft choice to Green Bay for the 6-foot-3, 260-pound lineman.

    Reynolds, the Packers' first-round draft choice in 2001 (10th pick overall), played 18 games in three years, recording 17 tackles (11 solo), three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

    Green Bay's decision to trade Reynolds, 25, does not come as a big surprise. Healthy for the first time in 2003, he was inactive for 11 games a year ago and had just four tackles in five games last season.

    He was due a $217,260 roster bonus later this month, but the Packers saved $667,250, his roster bonus and base salary combined, on this year's cap by making the move now.

    The former Florida State defensive end, who won the 2000 Lombardi Award as the nation's best collegiate defensive lineman, battled a left knee injury during most of his first two NFL seasons.

    Reynolds hyperextended his knee in training camp in 2001 and team medical personnel discovered during arthroscopic surgery that he'd worn away the cartilage in his knee.

    Orthopedic surgeons created small holes in the bone, which induces bone marrow and blood to clot in the joint and replace the cartilage as a buffer between the bones.

    The injury, however, does not fully explain his lack of any extended playing time last season.

    "I don't know what happened," Ron Wolf, the Packers' former president and general manager, told in a recent interview. "You have to take the injury into account. It happened, and the guy's never been the same player. Or, we could have missed on him. It could have just been what it's going to turn out to be a bad pick."

    When the Packers drafted the former Seminoles' standout in 2001, he had an impressive collegiate resume that included 12 sacks as a senior. Reynolds weighed in at 267 pounds at the NFL combine, and he later ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.7 seconds.

    "The explosion off the corner, they couldn't block him [in college]. Went right by them. It didn't matter where, he was going to do that during the course of the game and make a play," Wolf said.

    According to Packers' officials, Reynolds has good straight-line speed but has appeared to lack lateral quickness or the natural leg strength and balance to stay strong while changing directions. He looked good but not spectacular during the team's non-contact mini-camps in April and May.

    "It [was] probably the best he's looked since he's been here from a movement standpoint," said Reggie McKenzie, Green Bay's director of pro personnel. "But he's struggled -- in the power and strength aspects."

    Indianapolis Colts officials, however, hope that Reynolds -- who is somewhat similar in size and playing style to defensive end Dwight Freeney -- will mesh better in Tony Dungy's cover two defensive alignment.

    Neither Dungy or team president Bill Polian were available for comment on the deal Thursday. But the Colts' coach has stated in the past that some players fit better into his defensive system than in other systems currently employed around the league.

    "There are people who can play for me in what we do here that maybe don't fit in someplace else," Dungy said. "We heard that when we drafted Dwight [Freeney] as high as we did. But we've had pretty good success at plugging people in and letting them play once they become acclimated to what we're doing here."

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  • Nick
    Rams sign DB Hawthorne
    by Nick
    Hawthorne, Rams agree to terms on one-year deal
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Apr. 06 2005

    It has been several weeks in the making, but defensive back Michael Hawthorne
    is finally a Ram. Hawthorne, a free agent who has played with Green Bay the
    past two seasons, has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Rams.

    Financial terms weren't immediately available. Hawthorne's agent, Ralph
    Cindrich, said the contract should be signed in the next day or so. The Rams
    offered Hawthorne a contract nearly four weeks ago, but he tested the market
    and took his time before deciding on the Rams.

    Hawthorne may be changing teams, but he will have the same position coach he
    had with the Packers in Kurt Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer replaced Perry
    Fewell as the Rams' secondary coach earlier this offseason.

    "Schottenheimer had him in Green Bay, knew him, and liked him," Cindrich said.
    "He can play corner. He can play safety. He's big, strong and fast. He should
    be your nickel back at minimum, and he has a chance to do a lot more. So it's
    an opportunity to have a chance to play."

    Hawthorne is 6-3, 204 pounds. He was a sixth-round draft pick by New Orleans
    out of Purdue in 2000. He spent his first three seasons with the Saints,
    starting seven times at cornerback. He was released by the Saints on Sept. 9,
    2003, but was picked up by the Packers and played in 14 games with Green Bay,
    including two starts at corner that season.

    With Mike McKenzie holding out, Hawthorne started the first five games of last
    season at corner before spending the rest of the season in a reserve role. He
    finished with 36 tackles, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

    Without a proven nickel back to cover slot receivers, the Rams are expected to
    use Hawthorne in that role. But he's big enough to play safety, which is where
    he played at the end of the '04 season for Green Bay.

    Rangy and with long arms, Hawthorne is a fairly athletic player who has the
    potential to be a decent bump-and-run defender. He's not shy about hitting
    anybody, and is good at stripping the ball. He was released by the Packers
    before a $135,000 roster bonus was due.
    -04-06-2005, 11:39 PM
  • Nick
    AP: Packers to Release Defensive Back Charles Woodson
    by Nick
    Packers to Release Defensive Back Charles Woodson
    By LARRY LAGE AP Sports Writer
    February 15, 2013 (AP)

    Charles Woodson is on the market.

    The Green Bay Packers have informed the 36-year-old defensive back he will be released with two years left on his contract. first reported the move on Friday and it was confirmed by The Associated Press with Carl Poston, Woodson's agent. The team has not commented on reports that it has decided to cut Woodson.

    "The Packers told Charles they're going in a different direction," Poston told the AP. "Charles told me he still wants to play — for a Super Bowl contender."

    Woodson signed a five-year deal before the 2010 season that was worth as much as $55 million. He missed nine games during the 2012 regular season because of a broken right collarbone and played in two postseason games for the Packers in his seventh year with the franchise.

    "We had a good run," Woodson wrote to in a text message.

    Woodson was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Oakland Raiders, who drafted him out of Michigan with the No. 4 overall pick.

    He's the only player in NFL history with touchdowns off interceptions in six straight seasons, a feat he pulled off each year from 2006 to 2011, and leads the league with nine touchdowns off interceptions since 2006.

    Woodson was productive for the Packers, but they have some tough decisions to make this offseason to manage the salary cap. Woodson had a year left on his lucrative deal and linebacker A.J. Hawk is under contract next year for a team that probably wants to give long-term deals to receiver James Jones, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji because each of the relatively young standouts could potentially be free agents following next season.

    The Packers clear about $10 million in cap space by releasing Woodson.

    Despite his age and recent injury, Woodson will likely be an in-demand free agent. He was injured last October, bounced back in time to defend two passes in the playoffs.

    "Charles has been a stud in this league for 15 years, so whenever he's on the field with us, he's always a huge threat," Hawk said in January. "Not only is he a threat to make huge plays throughout the game, but quarterbacks, I think they know where he's at every single play. He seems to know what receivers are running before they do. And I think he has an intimidation factor as well."

    Woodson had a career-high nine interceptions in 2009 and picked off seven passes in 2011 and made one interception in seven games during last year's injury-shortened season.

    The 1997 Heisman Trophy winner led Michigan to the 1997 national championship...
    -02-15-2013, 02:10 PM
  • Nick
    SI: Packers Prioritize Littleton at Linebacker
    by Nick
    Packers Prioritize Littleton at Linebacker
    Bill Huber
    4 hours ago

    GREEN BAY, Wis. – As expected, the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 priority among this year’s free-agent linebackers is the Los Angeles Rams’ Cory Littleton.

    Littleton has risen from undrafted free agent in 2016 to one of the most-coveted players, regardless of position, in this free-agent class.

    In two seasons as a starter, Littleton has recorded 259 tackles, five interceptions and 22 passes defensed. Among linebackers, Littleton ranks second interceptions, first in passes defensed and sixth in tackles during that span. In those two seasons, Littleton has beaten Blake Martinez’s four-year totals in interceptions (three) and passes defensed (17). The Packers reportedly are interested in Joe Schobert, as well. Schobert’s four-year totals are six interceptions and 20 passes defensed.

    “All options are on the table,” Rams general manager Les Snead said when asked about Littleton at the Scouting Combine this week. “We have a franchise and a transition available right now. There hasn’t been a collective bargaining agreement so I think at that point we’re still going through a lot of things, trying to determine the best strategy to get as many of our good football players who’ve helped us win a lot of games over the last three years back. That’s always impossible but having those tools in the tool box definitely allow you to try to accomplish that.”

    Littleton will not be cheap. Pro Football Focus projected a contract worth $12 million per season; an NFC executive, expecting just about every linebacker-needy team to focus on Littleton, predicted he’d get more than $13 million per season.

    Nobody could have seen this from Littleton. As a senior at Washington, he had six sacks and 11 tackles for losses among 65 stops but broke up only two passes. Not invited to the 2016 Scouting Combine, he ran his 40 in 4.73 seconds and his 20-yard shuttle in 4.39 seconds at pro day. Both of those times were beaten by Martinez, who posted 4.71 and 4.20, respectively.

    Littleton, however, has become a true X-factor. According to Pro Football Focus, the Rams ran dime personnel on a league-high 55.3 percent of their defensive snaps vs. the pass; the Packers’ dime rate of 27 percent ranked fourth, so he’d be an immediate fit for how defensive coordinator Mike Pettine likes to play. At 228 pounds, he’s never going to be a dominant run defender. PFF has a stat called run stops, which essentially measures impact tackles (such as a first-and-10 tackle that limits the play to 3 yards or less). In 2019, Martinez had 31 and ranked 35th among off-the-ball linebackers with a run-stop percentage of 8.1. Littleton had 23 and ranked 73rd with a run-stop percentage of 5.8.

    Littleton earned second-team All-Pro in...
    -03-01-2020, 04:43 PM
  • RamWraith
    Undrafted rookie will start on defensive line
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - Brian Howard figured something was up Wednesday when he was
    told to go out with the Rams' starting defense at morning walk-through. Still,
    he was taking nothing for granted. One bad practice and he could be back with
    the second unit.

    "Yeah, it can change real quick," Howard said.

    But it didn't. Howard, an undrafted rookie defensive tackle from Idaho, will
    make his first NFL start tonight against Green Bay. Howard actually found out
    later on Wednesday that he would start.

    "A lot of things go through your head when you hear that - being a young guy,
    and undrafted," Howard said. "Obviously it's exciting.

    He called his mother and some friends with the news as soon as he could. But as
    the week progressed, he tried not to give it much thought.

    "If you think about it too much, it might kind of get to you," he said.

    Given the occasion, Howard might have to battle his nerves as much as one of
    the league's top offensive lines tonight.

    "Maybe," he said. "Just because of everything that's going on, being on 'Monday
    Night Football,' being my first start, Green Bay Packers at (Lambeau Field).
    Just the whole scenario is pretty sweet."

    Howard is undersized at 6 feet 4, 278 pounds, but he does have some quickness
    and plays with a lot of energy. Howard has played mainly on special teams and
    didn't even dress against New England on Nov. 7. But he had four stops last
    week against Buffalo, including one tackle for loss.

    He will replace Damione Lewis, who hasn't made much happen the past couple of
    games, in the starting lineup.

    Edwards is ready for his debut

    When the Rams claimed Antuan Edwards off waivers from Miami on Nov. 11, he came
    to St. Louis with a groin injury. After being inactive against Seattle and
    Buffalo, Edwards is now healthy and will make his Rams debut tonight against
    his former team, the Green Bay Packers.

    Edwards, a free safety, will play in the dime package and on special teams. He
    was a first-round draft choice by Green Bay in 1999 out of Clemson and spent
    his first five seasons with the Packers.

    "It's going to be exciting to go back and see some old friends of mine,"
    Edwards said. "Get a chance for the first time in my career to play against one
    of the greatest quarterbacks of all time."

    That would be Brett Favre. Edwards played 53 games as a Packer at cornerback
    and safety, including 18 starts. He signed with Miami as an unrestricted free
    agent last offseason and started...
    -11-29-2004, 05:14 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Offensive line shoots for big finish
    by DJRamFan
    It’s a long shot, but group could match Dolphins’ NFL record for fewest sacks

    By Pete Dougherty

    The Green Bay Packers are protecting Brett Favre nearly as well as any team has protected its quarterback in NFL history.

    Favre has been sacked five times in 10 games this season, which is on pace for eight sacks for the year. The NFL record for fewest sacks allowed in a season is seven, set by the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins in 1988.

    With six games still to play, beginning Monday night against St. Louis, the Packers will need an extraordinary finish to tie the Dolphins’ record, let alone beat it.

    But they’ve had five sackless games already this season, so while breaking or even tying the record has to be considered a long shot, it’s also not out of reach.

    “If we give up less than eight sacks, it would be a pretty incredible feat,” said Mark Tauscher, the Packers’ right tackle. “I don’t think we’re going to sit here and dwell on it. The most important thing is to be effective moving the ball. But it’s something, if we can break it, we’d like to do it.”

    The five sacks in 10 games is barely one-fourth of the league average of 22.9, and only two other teams are in single digits for sacks allowed: Indianapolis (six) and Denver (seven).

    It’s also a continuation of the Packers’ excellent pass protection last season, when they set the team record for fewest sacks allowed in a 16-game season with 19.

    Perhaps most surprising is that the Packers are protecting Favre better than ever without starting center Mike Flanagan, who was lost for the season in Week 4 because of a patellar-tendon injury. Grey Ruegamer, a sixth-year pro with only three career starts coming into the season, has recovered from a shaky start in his first game against the New York Giants.

    All in all, things are going so well that some of the offensive linemen fear jinxing themselves.

    “Just talking about it makes me nervous,” guard Marco Rivera said.

    As in the running game, pass protection is very much a collective effort. Halfback Ahman Green, the NFL’s eighth-leading rusher, helps because opponents have to honor his play-action fakes. The running backs and fullbacks play an important role in protection, too, both in picking up blitzes and chip blocking before they go into their pass routes.

    Also, Favre has an excellent sense for pass rushers closing in, and though he’s not the scrambling threat he was several years ago, he’s still adept at avoiding rushers and making throws outside the pocket.

    Nevertheless, the offensive line is the key to pass protection, and the Packers’ line is peaking with the bulk of that group in its fourth season starting together. Coach Mike Sherman ensured that continuity by re-signing left tackle Chad Clifton as the protector of Favre’s...
    -11-28-2004, 06:37 PM