B.J. Raji Unable to ‘Prove-It’ to Green Bay Packers
By Jamie Wright
If there is one problem the Green Bay Packers are sure to face for the next six to nine months, it’s what to do about big nose tackle, B.J. Raji.
The biceps injury that sidelined Raji in the preseason is pushing full throttle into a worst case scenario. Originally, Raji was said to be optimistic about the injury; McCarthy reported that it didn’t seem too serious but that he would wait for official results.
The questions shift now to – what will the Packers do with Raji after the 2014 season?
We got the results we were looking for, but not necessarily the kind of results that we wanted.
Raji was to undergo surgery on his torn bicep and it will be a firm six- to nine-month recovery time. The questions shift now to – what will the Packers do with Raji after the 2014 season?
Last year, Raji was moved out of his comfort zone at the nose tackle position and into a more inconsistent defensive end position.
That transition was not as successful as had been hoped.
Raji had arguably his worst year of football in his professional career. The Packers handled the situation with grace in the offseason, however, acknowledging their part in his production decline and signing him to a one-year “prove-it-to-me” deal.
Had Raji stayed healthy through week one, who knows how things would have played out in Seattle.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph
It is fair to speculate that Raji would have drastically improved the run defense from the get-go … not allowing over 200-plus yards on the ground in the season opener.
Without Raji, the Packers defensive line (already thinner and younger) is dangerously thin. Acting nose tackle Letroy Guion was out of football for a year, Josh Boyd is a novice in Dom Capers’ defensive schemes and there really isn’t anyone like Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly to fill the gaps and eat up the blocks needed to open space for the pass rush and the free rushers from the linebacker position.
Not to mention, run gap control has gone out the window.
I have to give it to the Packers though … their defensive switch was flipped in week two and the Jets’ dynamic running duo of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson was stopped for minimal gain.
Such a turnaround in just a week is hardly commonplace, but the Packers are having to find their way in the dark without Raji in the middle to clean up.
Raji’s one-year deal will expire in 2015 and will most likely fall by the wayside.
I can’t see the Packers re-signing him to an extended deal, especially with his injury leaving him inactive for up to nine months.
They were already on the fence about re-signing him, as his focus and determination was clearly lacking in 2013 (even though it was due in part to his poor comfort level in his new role on the defensive line).
Could the Packers have seen enough potential this past offseason in training camp and preseason? Could they have seen enough improvement and motivation from Raji to warrant a second-second chance?
That remains to be seen.
If Guion or Boyd or another big man steps up – this bicep injury might spell deuces for the 340-pound Raji in Green Bay.