2001 NFL Football Preview

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Green Bay Packers

Return to form by WR Freeman is critical factor

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Posted: Thursday July 19, 2001 10:40 AM
Updated: Sunday July 29, 2001 4:39 PM

  • 2001 schedule
  • Head coach: Mike Sherman (second season, 9-7-0 career)
  • Stadium: Lambeau Field
  • Packers all-time record: 590-470-36
  • 2000 rankings: Offense, 15th; Defense, 15th
  • 2000 team statistics
  • 2000 season results
  • Packers alerts from CNNSI.com!
  • City Page: Green Bay, Wis. 

    Green Bay opens its training camp at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., on July 24.

    By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

    The retirement of general manager Ron Wolf, two years after former head coach Mike Holmgren jetted, signaled the end of the most recent Packers glory years. Second-year head coach Mike Sherman assumes the GM duties. However, quarterback Brett Favre remains, which keeps Green Bay a viable challenger in the NFC Central.

    The Packers can make the playoffs if … wide receiver Antonio Freeman erases the memory of 2000 and plays like the player signed to a big-dollar contract two years ago. The running game is above average and the offensive line is talented. Green Bay’s defense employs a bend-but-don't-break scheme that ranked 15th overall.

    Pivotal games: The Packers' three week stretch Oct. 7-21 is brutal: at Tampa Bay, play host to Baltimore, at Minnesota. Three NFC Central teams -- Minnesaota, Tampa Bay and Green Bay -- rank among the top four in strength of schedule, so ending a two-year, non-playoff streak will not come without its obstacles.

    On the hot seat: Second-year tackle Chad Clifton protects Favre's blind side, which makes Clifton one of the most valuable pieces to the offensive line puzzle. After leapfrogging Mike Wahle (projected to move to left guard) on the depth chart last season, Clifton is expected to capitalize on his huge upside.

    Up-and-coming: Linebacker Na'il Diggs, a 6-foot-4, 234-pound second-year player, will be the starting strong-side linebacker in the Packers' 4-3 scheme. After becoming the first Green Bay LB in eight years to start, Diggs was named to the all-rookie team for Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America.

    Sports Illustrated's season preview will post Aug. 29.

  • NFC Central Previews: Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings | Buccaneers

    Green Bay Offseason Movement
    Signings  Departures 
    Corey Bradford, WR  Gary Berry, SS 
    Tony Darden, CB  Earl Dotson, RT 
    Rob Davis, DT  Matt Hasselbeck, QB 
    Tyrone Davis, TE  Mike Morton, LB 
    Jim Flanigan, DT  Ross Verba, G 
    Ahman Green, RB  Brian Williams, LB 
    Ryan Longwell, K    
    Scott McGarrahan, SS    
    Doug Pederson, QB    
    Allen Rossum, CB    
    Darren Sharper, FS    
    Mike Wahle, LT    
    Nate Wayne, LB    
    Packers' 2001 Draft Picks
    Round  Overall Pick  Player  Pos  School 
    10  Jamal Reynolds  DE  Florida St. 
    41  Robert Ferguson  WR  Texas A&M 
    71  Bhawoh Jue  CB  Penn St. 
    72  Torrance Marshall  ILB  Oklahoma 
    105  Bill Ferrario  OG  Wisconsin 
    198  David Martin  WR  Tennessee  

    Related information
    Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings
    The NFL in '01: Ten faces in new places
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