The Green Bay Packers announced some roster moves. They officially placed DE Mike Neal and LB Brady Poppinga on I.R. which ends the season for both players. They also released former Arena league player LB Maurice Simpkins, which wasn't a huge surprise since he was left inactive last week and didn't appear to be making a difference on special teams. But who they signed to replace them was surprising.
First was a typical signing. Young veteran LB Diyral Briggs has appeared in 5 games over the past two seasons for the 49ers and Broncos. But the signing of LB Matt Wilhelm was very unusual for the Packers because he's an eight year veteran. He's appeared in 82 games, with 22 starts, over his career, most recently with the 49ers and their 3-4 scheme. GM Ted Thompson does not sign street free agents with that much experience and that many miles on their aging bodies. But injuries, and the uncertainty last week whether LB A.J. Hawk or LB Brandon Chillar could play, had left the door slightly open that a recent addition from the practice squad, LB Robert Francois, could become the starter. That apparently was too little experience, even for Ted Thompson, and he signed the veteran Wilhelm, who should be able to step in right away and at least know what he's supposed to do.
I expect a coach to stand by his players, but special teams coach Shawn Slocum (who I have serious doubts about anyway) went out of his way to say that his "expectations for Tim are high." The player in question is P Tim Masthay, who had a good game against the Vikings. His current net average is 33.8 yards per punt, which is 3rd worst in the NFL among regular punters, and is even lower than last season's awful punter, P Jeremy Kapinos. Masthay has shown off a big leg at times, but he remains wildly inconsistent. I can't imagine saying my expectations for him are high. I'd just like to see if he could become average.
It's been a while since I looked at the SB Nation NFL Power Rankings, and after a couple of overtime losses, the Packers have slipped down to No. 12 overall. Next week could be a real statement game because the Jets are currently ranked No. 1 overall in those same rankings. Both teams are ranked closer together in the Football Outsiders rankings. Either way, their matchup is certain to be one of the best games of the week.