Packers Release James Starks

at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.One of the stars of the 2010 Super Bowl team, James Starks was released today by the Packers, on what the team called “a non-football injury”.  That stems from a car accident Starks was involved in on December 12.  He sustain a concussion, and was never cleared to return to the field.

In his 76 career games, all with the Packers Starks has rushed for 2,506 yards (4.1 avg) with nine touchdowns. His best season came in 2015, when Starks played in all 16 games, making four starts rushing for 601 yards and two touchdown.  At 30,Starks is at the age most consider the downside at the running back position, added to that is Starks past injury history. Last offseason the veteran running back signed a two-year $6 million deal .

The Packers only have Ty Montgomery the wide receiver turned running back as the only player with experience at that position.  Eddie Lacy is an unrestricted free agent, and there are questions if he will return to the Packers given his weight issues and coming off ankle surgery, that caused him to play in only five games this season.

Middleton To Return Wednesday

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Before the regular season began for the Milwaukee Bucks they lost one of their core players when guard Khris Middleton tore his hamstring.  The original diagnosis was that he would miss most of the regular season, but the Middleton has been participating in practice with the Bucks for a few weeks, and Middleton announced during a broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin that he will return to the court Wednesday against the Miami Heat. He will be on a minutes restriction until he gets back in playing condition.

The Bucks miss Middleton’s spot-up shooting ability, in his four-year career Middleton has shot 40% from beyond the arc.  He also defends the opposing teams best players, and one area the Bucks have struggled with defending the three.  They rank 15th in defensive three-point percentage and 12th in point given up per game.

Getting Middleton back is like acquiring a player at the trade deadline.  With the Bucks only one game behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot. This will give a struggling team some confidence, as they have been struggling of late losing eight of their last ten games.

Nelson Named Comeback Player Of the Year

img_0049 After missing the entire 2015 season,after suffering an ACL tear in the preseason, Nelson returned even stronger. He recorded 97 receptions for 1257 and a league high 14 touchdowns, which saw him win Comeback Player of the Year, last night at NFL Honors. Nelson is the first Packer to win the award, and only the second receiver, the other was Steve Smith then of the Carolina Panthers.

Nelson showed his toughness coming back and playing two weeks after breaking his ribs against the New York Giants, and playing in the NFC Championship game. In that game Nelson had six catches and a touchdown.

Leonhard Named Defensive Coordinator

img_0048Paul Chryst didn’t have to look far for his new defensive coordinator, naming former Wisconsin Badger Jim Leonhard to the position. He replaces Justin Wilcox, who was named head coach at the University of California.  Leonhard has big shoes to fill as the Badgers ranked fourth in the nation in points, giving up only 15.6 points. The unit also ranked seventh in total defense.

The Badgers have to replace quite a bit from last season unit  with the graduations of  Sojourn Shelton,  Leo Musso, Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Last season was Leonhard’s first season as a coach at any level, coaching the Badgers secondary.  Before that he had a 10-year career in the NFL, playing 142 games recording 329 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 14 interceptions, playing for five teams. Leonhard  is tied with Jamar Fletcher for the most interceptions in Badgers history with 21.

Bucks Acquire Spencer Hawes And Roy Hibbert

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WIth the trade deadline a few weeks away, the Milwaukee Bucks got an early start by acquiring Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert from the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee. The move was made to create more cap space for future moves. Plumlee signed a four-year $50 million contract extension with the Bucks last summer. Plumlee played in 32 of a possible 48 games, making 12 starts. The four-year veteran averaged just 2.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks.

Hawes is in his ninth year has averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.0 block. His best statistical season was in 2013-2014. He played in 55 games with 13.0 points,  8.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. Hawes has a player option for the 2017-18 season worth $6 million.

Hibbert, 30 was a two-time all-star with the Indiana Pacers and was name to the all defensive team for the 2013-14 season.  For his career, Hibbert has averaged 10.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He’ll be joining his third team in his nine-year career.   Hibbert joins Gerg Monroe and John Henson at center on the Bucks roster. He is playing on his expiring contract this season.

 

David Bakhtiari Added To Pro Bowl Roster; Lang Out

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As the  players were cleaning out their lockers at Lambeau Field following the 44-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game, David Bakhtiari got the news he was headed to his first Pro Bowl.  He replaces Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters, who will not play due to injury.

Bakhtiari just completed his fourth season with the Packers. In those seasons, the left tackle out of Colorado, has started every game except two.  Bakhtiari has handled the tough job of protecting Aaron Rodgers blind side since entering the NFL, drafted by the Packers in 2013,in the fourth round.  The website Pro Football Focus, which ranks players at each position throughout the season, had Bakhtiari as the sixth best offensive lineman in the NFL.  His consistent play earned him a for-year $51.67 million contract extension from the Packers in September.

 

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during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.

Veteran guard T.J. Lang, earned his first Pro Bowl selection of his eight-year career, when the rosters were announce about a month ago. Unfortunately, Lang will miss the Pro Bowl because of a hip injury that requires surgery, also sustaining an injury to a already broken foot in yesterday’s game. Lang is the longest tenured Packer offensive lineman, drafted in 2009. Playing in a total of 119 games, Lang has only missed four games since becoming the full-time starter in 2011. He is a free agent this offseason, and their are questions if Lang played his last game with the Packers.  His age and having sustained some injuries makes it difficult to see Lang back in 2017.

Packers Sign Max McCaffrey From Practice Squad

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In what may be a sign that the Green Bay Packers may be short-handed at the wide receiver position the team announced that they have signed Max McCaffrey from their practice squad.  In a corresponding move the Packers placed center JC Tretter on injured reserve.

McCaffrey, the brother of Christian, a potential first round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.  Max a 6 foot 2, 220-pound undrafted rookie, was originally signed by the Oakland Raiders, before signing with the Packers practice squad on December 20th.

McCaffrey played his college football at Duke, where he played in 53 games making 38 starts, compiling 117 catches for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Running Back Christine Michael Added Injury Report

Green Bay Packers v Baltimore Ravens

The  injury report keeps growing, less than 24 hours until the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers announced that running back Christine Michael is questionable with a back injury. The Packers are already short-handed at the running back position, with Eddie Lacy on IR and James Starks in concussion protocol, that leaves Ty Montgomery and Aaron Ripkowski as the only two healthy running backs.

In other injury news Mike McCarthy said that Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Morgan Burnett will all be game-time decisions.

Brewers Sign Neftali Feliz

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The Milwaukee Brewers added some experience to their bullpen by agreeing to a one-year contract with Neftali Feliz.  The deal is worth $5.35 million, but could increase $1.5 million with incentives.

Feliz, 28, made his major league debut in 2009, with the Texas Rangers at the age of 21. His best season was his second year, in which he saved 40 games had a 2.73 ERA and  completed a MLB high 59 games.  Those stats earned him a trip to the All-Star Game.  Early in his career, Feliz was able to throw 100 mph, so the Brewers believe he is an option to close games this season. In his eight-year career he has compiled 99 saves, which is more than any Brewers pitcher currently on the roster.

Last season Feliz pitched for the Pittsburg Pirates, where he made 62 appearances with a 4-2 record and a 3.52 ERA.

Antetokounpo Named All-Star Starter

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For the first time since Sidney Moncerief in 1986, Giannis  Antetokounpo was named a starter to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.  Antetokounpo is the first Milwaukee Buck to be named to the All-Star team since Michael Redd in 2004.

The 22 year-old from Greece was drafted with the 15th overall pick back in 2013, and has made steady improvement in his four- year NBA career. Since averaging 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds his rookie season, he has improved in all offensive statistical categories.  This season Antetokounpo leads the Bucks in points with 23.7, rebounds 8.7, assists 5.6, steals 1.8, and blocks with 2.1.  He is the only player this season to accomplish that feat.

Antetokounpo isn’t the only Bucks player that hopes to make the All-Star roster, Jabari Parker is awaiting the selections of the reserves made by the two head coaches which will be announced January 26th. Parker is averaging 20.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The third-year pro, has come back strong after suffering an ACL tear that ended his rookie year after just 25 games.  It has been said that it takes a full year before an athlete completely recovers from an ACL injury, and this season Parker has shown the explosiveness that the Bucks saw when he played one season at Duke.

As a team the Bucks are a difficult to figure out, at 20-22 they are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference playoff race and having  lost their fourth game in a row to the 18-27 Orlando Magic.  Their a team that can go on the road and beat the San Antonio Spurs or Cleveland Cavaliers at home,  and then have a loss to Orlando.  If the Bucks want to be a team to be reckoned with for years to come, they have to become more consistent..