Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Running Backs, Running Backs

As most Packer fans must have heard by now, the oft-injured, but, when not injured, most impressive back on the team, rookie DeShawn Wynn, has been put on injured reserve. His one carry against the Broncos led to a "stinger" in his neck that was so serious he would have missed most of the team's remaining games. So, a la Noah Herron, instead of waiting for him to regain his health, the Packers put him on injured reserve, ending his season. My apologies to all of you who picked him up on your fantasy teams. Wynn looks like a pretty talented guy, and, if he drops some excess weight, could be a legit starting back in the league. But that's only if he can stay healthy, something that looks dubious. But hell, he was a seventh round pick! Keep him around, and see if he can do anything. There's virtually no risk on the Packers' end.

As far as this season goes, I'm hoping that losing Wynn won't hurt the Packers that much. Although this may mean we see more of the (right now) totally pedestrian Brandon Jackson (Brandon's only 21, so I have hope for his future development), Ryan Grant and Vernand Morency should be able to contribute about as much as Wynn could. And it's not like the team isn't used to playing without Wynn anyway, with all of his various injuries and health issues.

In more immediately troubling news, it looks like PJ Hill may not be able to play at OSU on Saturday. And Lance Smith is still suspended for road games, due to his cab fare/battery of girlfriend/shoe stealing incident. (Man, being an Ohio native, you have got to think that Lance would have been really amped for this game.) This means that the running game will be in the hands of true freshman Zach Brown, backed up by true freshman Quincy Landingham. Uh oh. Zach has good acceleration, and appears to be an excellent blocker, but he has not shown that he can pick up tough yards or break tackles like PJ, though, to be fair, few backs can. And he certainly doesn't have Lance's agility or experience. Since OSU is ranked number one in total defense so far this season, and number four in rushing defense, you have to think, come Saturday, there won't be a lot of wide open holes for Badger backs to run through. PJ's ability to get yards after contact and Lance's ability to freestyle probably would have come in handy. Zach will do his best, I'm sure, but the offensive game will largely be in the hands of Donovan and the receiving corps. Double uh oh. Unless the defense comes up absolutely huge in Columbus, it could be a long day.

Now it's time for some happier running back news. Two Badger running back recruits from the Chicago area had huge days in the first round of the Illinois state playoffs. Eric Smith, from Bolingbrook High School (far Southwestern suburbs) had 25 carries for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Dex Jones, from Montini High School (a Catholic school in the Western suburbs) had 15 carries for 202 yards and a score. Now, since this was the first round of the playoffs, and both guys are on pretty good teams, they weren't playing against totally awesome opponents or anything. But you'd hope your recruits would dominate middling opposition, and so it's good to see they did. Treading positive...