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Packers rookie report: Week 16

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 28, 2010 @ 6:40 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Here’s a look at how the Packers’ first-year players are faring through 15 games:

OT Bryan Bulaga (first round): The Packers’ first-round draft pick has had a pretty tough couple of weeks. After having a few costly breakdowns late in the Week 15 loss to the Patriots, Bulaga had a very long afternoon Sunday matched up against Giants DE Justin Tuck, who beat him for a sack, two knockdowns and two hurries. Bulaga’s run-blocking also left a lot to be desired and needs to get his act together in advance of another tough matchup this Sunday against the Bears DLE Israel Idonije.

DE Mike Neal (second round): Neal was placed on injured reserve before the Jets game in Week Eight with a season-ending shoulder injury. He showed good potential in the two games in which he was able to play, but he had problems staying healthy.

SS Morgan Burnett (third round): Burnett was placed on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week Four. He entered the season as the starting strong safety after an excellent offseason and training camp.
 
TE Andrew Quarless (fifth round): Quarless caught the only pass thrown to him against the Giants for 16 yards and was overshadowed by fellow TEs Tom Crabtree and Donald Lee.

OG Marshall Newhouse (fifth round): Newhouse has yet to be activated this season and remains an emergency insurance policy for the offensive line.

RB James Starks (sixth round): After a very impressive pro debut in the Week 13 win over the Niners (18 carries for a team-high 73 yards), Starks has been inactive the last two games, apparently due to practice habits that head coach Mike McCarthy believes leave a lot to be desired.

DE C.J. Wilson (seventh round): Wilson was a factor in the fourth quarter against the Giants, applying decent pressure with one QB hurry. With starting DRE Cullen Jenkins looking very iffy at this writing to be able to return in Week 17 from an injured calf, Wilson figures to continue getting his fair share of playing time.

OLB Frank Zombo — Zombo, who has done a surprisingly solid job as the team’s starting right outside linebacker in place of the injured Brad Jones, has now missed two straight games after spraining his knee in Detroit. The Packers are hoping he will be good to go this Sunday against the Bears. In the 13 games in which he has played, Zombo has 38 tackles, four sacks for 34 yards in losses and a pair of forced fumbles.

CB Sam Shields — After getting beaten early for a 21-yard reception against the Giants, the fleet-footed Shields later rebounded with a second-half interception while playing cover-2. Continuing as the primary kickoff returner in addition to filling the nickel corner role, Shields had four returns for 60 yards against the Giants and has yet to break loose for an impact return, which might have the Packers coaches thinking about making a switch.

TE Tom Crabtree — Team insiders have indicated to PFW that Crabtree, who has been used mostly as a run blocker, could become more of a receiving force down the stretch. Against the Giants, he did have one big 21-yard catch of the only pass thrown his way.

RB Dimtri Nance — Relegating fellow rookie Starks to the inactive list the last couple of weeks, Nance saw plenty of action against the Giants, rushing nine times for 32 yards with a long gain of six yards.

OL Nick McDonald — The undrafted center-guard from Division II Grand Valley State is currently the team’s 10th offensive lineman and is not likely to see any playing time unless there is suddenly a major rash of injuries on the O-line. But the Packers like his versatility and toughness and believe he could have a promising future.

CB Josh Gordy — Previously spending four months with Jacksonville as a rookie free agent before being cut Sept. 1, Gordy is fast and athletic with skills similar to those of Shields. While he is expected to contribute more in the future, he shapes up as an emergency fill-in for now.

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