Green and West: Two fighting to make the team
One slept in his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot while pursuing his dream. One spent last season on the Packers practice squad waiting for his chance.
Last Friday night, both stood out in the Packers preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Will either one make the team?
The excitement for the fans during preseason is having the opportunity to watch players emerge from the shadows to win spots on the 53-man roster. That’s what we are seeing right now with running back Alex Green and wide receiver Chastin West.
Though Green is probably a lock to make the team as a third-round draft choice, nothing’s guaranteed in the NFL. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
At this point, Green looks to be the Packers’ option to be the third down back they would need to replace Brandon Jackson, who skipped town to Cleveland through free agency.
And while the importance of the third down back to pick up blitzes in the Green Bay offense is crucial, I still feel that though Green whiffed and got beat for a sack last Friday night, his upside is enough to land him a spot on the team.
Clearly, he needs to study and react, as well as work with the coaching staff to learn the blocking aspect of the game, but it’s not like he’s a small guy and can’t take on the blitzing linebackers that are going to come his way … he has the physical attributes.
On the ball skills side of the equation, Green is a beast. Did you see him catch that screen and follow his blockers down to the two yard line? Brandon Jackson was pretty good at that, too, but given what we saw Green do on that play, it might not be long before Jackson is forgotten – that is if Green can continue that kind of production.
So, will Green make the team? He will unless he goes out and commits murder.
As for West … this is a tough one. He is currently battling for a spot with a unit that is as deep as the Pacific Ocean. We can probably pencil in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb. But what about West? What about Brent Swain? Deondre Borel? Torey Gurley?
Just how many receivers Ted Thompson keeps will depend on various other moves with the offense, such as how many running backs and tight ends will be kept on the squad.
Is West worth keeping? Only Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy can answer that. But given the drive, determination and skill that West showed Friday night, the answer would be a yes. If the team cuts him, another team is surely bound to gobble him up in a heartbeat, but that in itself is the negative of being world champion. The team has to stick with players that got them there … those that are on the bubble are being watched by the other 31 teams in the league.
And that would include West, whose 97-yard touchdown pass Friday night electrified the Lambeau Field crowd.
So, while there are plenty of other training camp competitions emerging … including the tight end position … the eyes of many will be on Green and West. Maybe it’s time to play these two with the first team in the preseason game this Friday at Indianapolis and the final in Green Bay against the Kansas City Chiefs. Those two situations would provide a good litmus test for just how ready these two players are for prime time.
It would also allow the players the opportunity to shine. If they don’t, at least they can’t walk away saying they didn’t have the chance.
After all, we know what we have at wide receiver and running back at this point.
Clearly, the next two weeks are going to be interesting in Packers camp.