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Atari Bigby Morgan Burnett

Burnett looks like a serious challenger.

When training camp opens, the Green Bay Packers will have few spots in the starting lineup up for grabs.

The only totally open competition is at left guard, where Daryn Colledge will battle Jason Spitz for the starting job. There are other positions that may turn into competitions, however.

T.J. Lang and Mark Tauscher may battle at right tackle, although Tauscher is currently atop the depth chart. The same can be said for Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton at left tackle, where Clifton is entrenched as the starter. On the defensive side of the ball, the only potential competitions would be at outside linebacker, where Brad Jones might be pushed by Brady Poppinga and inside linebacker, where A.J. Hawk has slowly been losing reps to Brandon Chillar.

Strong safety is another story.

No one has publicly said there’s a competition, but it would be foolish to think there isn’t one developing.

Atari Bigby remains the starter, but he hasn’t helped himself by refusing to sign his tender. The Packers drafted safety Morgan Burnett in the third round of this year’s draft and in Bigby’s absence, he’s taken all the snaps with the first-team defense.

Burnett has drawn raves from cornerback Charles Woodson and praise from coach Mike McCarthy.

Bigby, meanwhile, remains MIA.

Burnett possesses certain attributes Bigby doesn’t and if not now, looks like he will eventually be the better player. Dan Arkush had this to say.

The prevailing feeling among our Packers sources is that Atari Bigby probably will hang on to his first-team status at strong safety should he eventually sign his restricted free-agent tender and report to training camp. But even if Bigby settles his contract issues, the word is he could be facing a real run for his money from third-round draft pick Morgan Burnett, who has received rave reviews so far this offseason. The 6-1, 209-pound Burnett is two inches bigger than Bigby and has more speed.

I think it’s time to go to the tale of the tape.

Atari Bigby Morgan Burnett
Height 5’11” 6’1″
Weight 213 209
Age 28 21
Drafted Undrafted (2005) 3 (2010)
College Central Florida Georgia Tech
Speed X
Range X
Athleticism X
Experience X
Tackling X
Hitting X
Awareness X
Intangibles X

On paper, it looks like Burnett has a slight edge, at least by our calculations.

Tackling and experience are the key factors in Bigby’s favor.

That being said, you can go back to the old high school and college adage — if two players have the same skill level, the younger player plays because he has the potential to develop into a better player over the long run.

The Packers may not see it that way, though. In a season where the team has aspirations of going deep into the playoffs, the coaching staff may find it tough to rely on a rookie at a key defensive position.

Unless he proves himself head and shoulders above Bigby, Burnett may find himself playing a backup role in his first season or at least part of it.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. jeremy June 27, 2010

    Whether Bigby or Burnett grabs the starting SS position the real victory will be in the release of Jarrett Bush. Blackmon’s recovery from knee surgery is going very well, and he’s the best returner they have, and I can’t believe the Pack will keep five safety’s.

  2. bogmon June 27, 2010

    I think in the end it comes down to who has better Hair at the end of Camp!

  3. shano June 27, 2010


  4. Matt Fox June 28, 2010

    I’m just excited because were projected to win a superbowl. To Ted Thompson that’s like practically winning a superbowl.

  5. RayV#7 June 29, 2010

    Im thinking something happened between matt fox and ted thompson…. hmmmmm. are they mad at each other still after 2 years of a divorce? wow, matt still cant get over how ted released his secret lover favre and dumped him for rodgers! haha, stupid troll!

  6. Matt Fox June 30, 2010

    Rayv, in all seriousness, do you actually think TT is a good GM? I mean really, do you actually think hes even a decent GM that has a chance to take the Packers to a superbowl? Besides the Favre stuff and all of that, do you think TT has ran this team well over the past 5-6 years?

  7. Taryn June 30, 2010

    YES,we don’t get burned in the over paid FA market as some,contrary to some, our draft propects play for years and contribute long term (high % than most), and we are able to maintain financial stability(small market team) and pay into the Market Revenue Sharing Process.So yes,perhaps not a RON WOLFE yet,but a keeper in any teams eyes.

    How much are you paying the “CHOKER”a.k.a. Favre to do it to you again this year? FA is a beautiful thing from the Packer side of the fence.

  8. Matt Fox June 30, 2010

    I’m not paying Favre anything. And yes, you dont get burned over paying free agents, you just get burned during the season and in the playoffs. Good tradeoff. Someone like you would like Ted Thompson.

  9. RayV#7 July 1, 2010

    Well said Taryn! But everyone has a different point of view. ! @ matt, ok, im being serious here, Ted Thompson is a good GM, and i say good cuz hes only been with the organization for a little while. While he has a good career ahead of him as a GM, I really think he’s taking the Packers organization in the right direction. Sometimes we question his moves and decisions, and his thinking makes us sctrach our heads. but since he’s known the NFL and how it runs more than us fans, i think he should know whats best for the team from his educated point of view. What i like about him is that he builds through the draft instead of overpaing for FAs. I think he takes the younger approach to players as we can draft quality players and have them learn from the coaching staff and the veteran players at their postition. That said, i believe hes the best in the league at that. But what we fans hate is him not building the team from FA. Taryn gave a good point in how its better not to “overpay” for players. She has a point there and i can understand what TT is doing but i dont think it would hurt the team to sign at least 1 or 2 FAs every offseason that could help the team. As good as the Packers seem this year, we do have our weaknesses as all other teams do. Our main weak points are our secondary, (preferably CB) OLB, O-Line, and Special Teams. Ted addressed the O-Line and Special Teams in the draft while we still need OLB and CBs. That said, the Packers are a contender this year and if those areas get addressed somehow, i think we win the Superbowl hands down! but to answer your question Matt, i do believe Ted Thompson is doing a good job so far. Im not saying he’s the best GM, but he’s getting there.

  10. matt fox July 1, 2010

    I understand what you’re saying Ray. I really do and can see some of your points. But let me just explain to you where im comin from.
    My father, a wisconsinborn die hard packer fan, hated Thompson the year he started working for the Packers, and for the first few years I just laughed at him for it and was like whatever. I wanted the Pack to win and wasnt about to not root for my absolute favorite team to not win. It wasnt until 07 that I really started to see TT for what he was and hate him for it. No, not when he didnt want favre back, but way back in the offseason before that year even started.
    So lets just recap what TT BEFORE the whole Favre thing even happened. In his first year of taking over a very good team, a win now team that had a few years left with the greatest qb to ever put on a packer jersey, Thompson decides to take a QB in the first round (which four years later worked out, but added absoultely nothing to the win now potential and state of the team) and added absolutely NO ONE in free agency, despite this useless at the time pick and Thompson’s decision to let our two probowl starting guards go in fa (Which to this day he hasnt fully replaced). So, naturally, what happened that season? Favre gets destroyed behind an awful O-line that Thompson made no effort to fix, the team experienced a plague of injuries and couldnt recover due to a lack of depth and Favre has his first losing season in the history of his career. So Thompson takes a playoff team 4-12 in his first season as GM and then FIRES Mike Sherman as if it were his fault. Thompson then goes looking for a new coach and i politely asked by Favre if he would interview, not hire, just interview and consider Steve Marriucci, a fantastic former Packer coach under wolf who would amazingly be even better than Sherman. Thompson says of course, only to go and hire the offensive coordinator of the 3-13 san fransisco 49ers without giving Marriucci so much as a call. Thompson then goes on to alienate other veteran Sherman guys on the team, sending Javon Walker , the Packs best wr at the team, to demand a trade. If thompson’s motive and character werent clear right away they became clear after this. Javon saw what most Packer fans couldnt or wouldnt. That thompson was going to break apart a championship ready team for his own ego, to make sure everyone knew it was his team. And you wonder why Favre began to contemplate retirement after this season? After Thompson basically took apart his entire playoff team to go into rebuilding mode for NO REASON other than his own ego? And then lied to him? And it was only a matter f time til Favre was next. Well, favre plays again and basically takes Thompsons new crappy team to a decent 8-8 record. Have no fear, howeverm because Thompson strikes again! This offseason it becomes clear that Randy freakin Moss, the terrorizer of the Packers for years, wants to come to GrennBay to play with Favre and the new up and coming Packers, and all it would cost is a 4th round pick and a measly 3 million dollar contract. And if thats too much for you to pay for a Hall of fame receiver who, with favre, could create the scariest qb receiver duo ever, Fave offered to restructure his salary to take less money (something he has done before) to pay for Moss’ contract! Hurray! Needless to say, Thompson obviously said…no? Moss meanwhile goes on to break jerry rices touchdown record that year and help the Pats get to the Superbowl. Smart man that Thompson. If that wasnt enough, for Favre’s last year as a Packer, when the offense really needs an o-lineman or runningback to help Favre out, Thompson drafts in the 1st round…Justin Harrell. I dont need to say anymore. Except that the packers already had 3 solid defensive tackles and just traded away their best defensive tackle (corey William) for a 2nd round pick, which makes absoultely no fucking sense. Thinking about this just makes me really angry so I’ll continue. Despite Thompson’s obvious desire for Favre to fail (if Favre is gone, Thompson is the mastermind behind the Packers success it makes prefect sense) Favre basically ignores McCarthy and audibles half the plays (literally, he audibled half of the plays that season) to lead the Pack to a 13-3 record behind a mediocre team (Dont argue with me that they werent a mediocre team, a year later Aaron rodgers led the same exact team to a 6-10 record while having the best year of a first year starting qb ever They were mediocre.) And at the end of the season, after a heartbreaking loss to the Giants, (I know you all wanna shit talk Favre about that, but I honestly cant understand why, as Ryan Grant was so horrendous in that game its a miracle favre was able to even throw two touchdowns and Al harris couldnt stop plaxico burress for shit) Ted Thompson basically tells Favre “you have three weeks to decide what you want to do next year.” The giants meanwhile give Michael Strahan the entire offseason to decide, but..whatever. If it isnt obvious to you that Thompson hated favre and couldnt have his own team while favre was in the way, then you just dont want to deal in reality. Its not a farfetched concept after witnessing all of Thompsons other moves. So, obviously, in the heart of just losing a crushing game at the age of 38, being forced into a fast decision, and really not feeling wanted by packers management Favre made the quick decision to retire. Its AMAZING that he would later change his mind. Who would have saw that coming? I wont get into the details of the Favre thing, I know you all have your opinions, but I’ll just say this one thing. In my years growing up as a Packer fan I have only seen Brett Favre handle himself with dignity and respect. His teammates loved him, he married his high school sweetheart, he gave wisconsin everything he had on and off the field. While he was a little rowdy as a younger player he really developed into a man and leader. Does he have an ego? Of course. What starting NFL quaterback doesnt? But he always gave wisconsin his very best. And while he always cared about winning, the game was always the most fun for him, and therefore the most fun for me when I watched him. I even had fun watching him when we didnt win. On the other hand, I cant say the same for Ted Thompson. Over the past few years I have watched Ted make some decisions that have shown me that winning and the fun of the game are not the most important things to him. I have seen him lie, manipulate, and destroy for his own personal gain. It has become fairly obvious to me that to Thompson, money and his own ego are the most important things to him, and therefore the greenbay packers. I have not enjoyed a single draft since Thompson has become GM. For someone who builds a team solely through the draft, he is a terrible drafter. Last year everyone was so excited because we got a good DT and OLB in the first round. But didnt Thompson already draft a DT and OLB in the first round? Having to pick the same position again because you f’ed up the first time is not considered a good draft to me. For the past 5 years the Packers have needed to draft an offensive guard and cornerback in the first round, and have drafted neither. Guess what the two biggest problems for the Packers are right now? Thompson inherited a great team and ran it into the ground to build it up into a mediocre team. In thompsons first 3-4 years here (favres last) he shouldve taken them deep into the playoffs every year. Instead they went 4-12, 8-8, 13-3. These past two years, the packers were again projected to go deep into the playoffs, easily winning the division both years. Instead they went 6-10 and 11-5, winning zero playoff games. You guys constantly like to forget where the packers were supposed to go and the expectations they had in the beginning of the year and become complacent each year when they either get a little better or should at least be better next year. Thompson hasnt run this team for a short time, he’s had them for five long years. And in those years he’s done nothing, but lead wisconsin to its two first losing seasons in fifteen years, win one playoff game and shun wisconsin’s most hailed figure of all time.
    Thompson does not bleed green and gold. He does not care about the Green Bay Packers. Despite being on the Vikings for the last years f his career, if you dont think Favre is a Packer at heart and bleeds green and gold then youre crazy. But your even crazier if you think Ted Thompson is a good GM.

  11. RayV#7 July 3, 2010

    Wow, and i thought my response was long, lol. ok Matt, you have alot of good points that I agree on with you. But just to clear things up, im just gonna give you some info on my background before you go ranting on me for whatever reason. Im 17, seriously, and I live in Texas, but im a die hard packers fan. I wasnt born into big football family. Me not knowing anything about football or even bothering to watch it, i was a Cowboys fan as my dad is today. He would tell me to root for them and me not knowing anything, I would. but as a grew older, i started playing sports, eventually i began to watch them. The first game i saw was the Packers vs Broncos Superbowl in 97. Me not having any team. i went with the Broncos basically because they won. I hated the Packers with a passion after that but after i started to understand the concepts of football an how it was played, i really enjoyed the packers style of football and their players. after viewing their games, i quickly became a fan and never changed teams. to this day, im probably the biggest Packers fan in my community and its tough because alot of my friends rip me at school for being a packers fan since this is the state of Texas, most people like the cowboys. But anyways just wanting to tell you a little about myself and just wanting to clear up any suspicions that a was a bandwagon fan or whatever. but ok, going back to Ted Thompson. on some things I agree with you and some i really dont. ok, i totally agree on the whole Randy Moss situation, when i first heard that rumor, i went crazy even though he had a pretty crappy year with the Raiders. i believe the Packers we coming off that horrible 4-12 season so they needed another weapon to compliment Donald Driver. but after they didnt trade for Randy i didnt rant on Ted Thompson i just would shake my head in confusion and disappointment. He has little to nothing in free agency in the past coulpe of year and thats what a hate most about him. but the Javon Walker thing was a good thing he did. at first, i did not understand the trade as i idolized Javon Walker. but he was coming of a torn ACL i believe and he got traded to the Broncos. and then has had a horrible career and i believe hes not even on a team rite now. so trading him was a good move in the long run. and thats the thing with the Packers and Ted Thompson. Championship teams arent made in a season or two, they take time. i know the Packers have had some setbacks over the years with Ted Thompson as GM. but i think he has limited his mistakes and now has the team on the verge of a Superbowl this year. I think hes taking this team in the right direction. but he does have some flaws but i know you disagree with me on some of my points but you gotta agree on some.

  12. matt fox July 7, 2010

    Haha, that just cracks me up that your from texas, cause as a Pack fan i just HATE the cowboys, but thats great you are one there. And that Broncos Pack game is fucking painful to remember. If Favre had just won that one I think i wouldnt be so hungry for him to win one with the Vikes. But past is past and fuck John Elway.
    And yes, i do agree with things you say, I know Javon wasnt some amazing player to keep and he only had a few years left, but i was just using him as part of the example of Thompson getting rid of all of Sherman’s guys, and trying to make his own team, when he didnt need to. But thats just where it started. Theres a bunch of stuff i left out and couldnt put EVERYTHING thompson has done, but basically he has just done so many things to fuck up the packers, and just make me never look forward to anything with them and then everything with the whole Favre thing, which was the last straw for me, that i just need the Packers to get a new manager. I just love the pack and favre too much and I’m too bitter for what Thompson has done. I hate him too much for robbing Favre and the Packers of a superbowl. He’s just done too much. I mean hes literally divided the entire state of wisconsin on top of all the gm mistakes. The second thompsons gone i can be happy again and be excited for the pack again. But until that happens i just gotta hope Favre keeps coming back.

  13. RayV#7 July 7, 2010

    Lol, yea i HATE the fucking cowboys! stupid ass redneck fucks! lol, they call themselves americas team, what a stupid name when they arent! Packers should be americas team, we have 12 World Championships in the bag! We are the best franchise ever! TitleTown USA! lol, and yea sorry for calling you a troll and other shit, my bad. i thought you were a Vikings fan, lol. i hate them motherfuckers with a passion! i made a judgment call before you could explain yourself so im terribly sorry. you seem like a cool guy, lol and you have all the reasons to be mad at Ted Thompson! someitmes i hate him too but we all have different points of view. but from my point of view, he has done a fair to good job so far. so sorry again matt and i hope all is good. so are we cool? oh, and i hate the bears, lions, cowboys, patriots, and steelers and their fans! lol

  14. matt fox July 13, 2010

    We cool homie. Cheese head fo’ life!

  15. Brandon Fisher July 31, 2010

    Just laughed out loud at Matt Fox’s comments, you have no clue what your talking about dude.