TE Jermichael Finley: Broke the franchise record for receptions by a tight end (61) but was still up-and-down and might not return. Finished strong, in the wake of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about how the team was ready to move on. That may or may not have served as motivation, but clearly played better late, as he didn’t drop a single pass over the final six games (including playoffs) after dropping nine in first 12. Still, a big financial commitment ($8.25 million in salary and bonus money) for 2013.
TE Tom Crabtree: Fan favorite who had some memorable moments, including a 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run and a 27-yard TD on a fake field goal. Is team’s best blocking tight end and vital to special teams.
TE Ryan Taylor: Did not progress as expected in Year 2. Was a non-factor on offense, where he caught just one pass. Core special teamer.
TE D.J. Williams: Hard to tell how he fits the team’s plans. Was a healthy inactive for three games, including the team’s season-ending playoff loss. A top pass-catching tight end coming out of college at Arkansas, appeared poised to be big contributor in camp. Wound up catching only seven passes for 57 yards.
TE Andrew Quarless: Didn’t play a single snap after being activated from physically unable to perform list after his 2011 season ended with horrific knee injury. Will be welcomed back in 2013.
LT Marshall Newhouse: Certainly has his shortcomings. Played all 1,256 snaps in 18 games and was charged with nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 37 hurries by ProFootballFocus.com. Flagged for five penalties, including three holding penalties. Still team’s best option at left tackle.
LG T.J. Lang: Played like himself upon his return to left guard after being miscast at right tackle following Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending hip injury. Had his own injury issues (elbow, ankle) but is one of the team’s resident tough guys. Missed one game (active but did not play). Charged with nine sacks, five QB hites and 12 QB hurries by ProFootbalLFocus.com.
C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Went from team’s center of the future to its center of the present after Jeff Saturday was benched before the second-to-last regular-season game. Charged with two sacks, three hits and seven hurries in 603 snaps at guard and center by ProFootballFocus.com.
C Jeff Saturday: The 14-year veteran was a stop-gap free agent signing after Scott Wells’ departure. The plan was for him to start at least one season, and maybe two, while either Dietrich-Smith was groomed or another center of the future was found. He ended up lasting only 14 games before his benching. Likely to retire.
RG Josh Sitton: Didn’t miss a snap all season until having trouble with a shoe during the NFC Divisional Playoff loss. Committed seven penalties, allowed three sacks, two QB hits and 16 hurries in 1,254 snaps according to ProFootballFocus.com. Headed to first Pro Bowl after replacing Super Bowl-bound 49ers guard Mike Iupati on NFC roster.
RT Don Barclay: Undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia proved he belonged on the roster in training camp, then was thrust into action and held his own. Was charged with four penalties, five quarterback sacks, four QB hits and 19 hurries in 459 snaps by ProFootballFocus.com. Could’ve used redshirt year but will benefit from experienced gained.
RT Bryan Bulaga: Season ended on Nov. 4 with a bizarre hip injury. In 587 snaps, allowed four sacks, three QB hits and 20 hurries, but those numbers were skewed by his nightmarish performance at Seattle on Sept. 24, when he was charged with two sacks, one hit and eight hurries in 71 snaps. Said after the season that he expects to be ready for the start of training camp. Likely to miss most if not all of the offseason.
OL Greg Van Roten: Undrafted rookie free agent from Penn was phenomenal in camp during one-on-one pass-blocking drills and began season on the practice squad. Promoted to 53-man roster on Oct. 13 and saw action in seven games as an extra blocker on offense and on special teams. Intriguing prospect.
OL Derek Sherrod: Missed entire season because of horrific leg injury suffered on Dec. 18, 2011 at Kansas City. The 2011 first-round pick was unable to gain clearance from the physically unable to perform list after essentially a wasted rookie year as well. Suddenly entering his third NFL season with little experience and little proof that he was worth his high draft selection. His career might even be in jeopardy given how long the leg has taken to heal.
DT B.J. Raji: One year after getting a Pro Bowl berth he didn’t deserve, he rebounded and played at a Pro Bowl level – but didn’t get the accolade. No matter. It was a bounce-back year for him. Wasn’t all that impressive statistically (zero sacks, 45 tackles) but led the linemen in snaps (768) despite missing two games with an ankle injury and had 25 quarterback hurries. Entering final year of rookie contract.
DT Ryan Pickett: Old reliable vet played in all 18 games (653 snaps) and remained the leader of the guys up front. Was still solid against the run despite advancing age (33). Saw action primarily in the base “Okie” defense and has value that goes beyond numbers.
DE C.J. Wilson: Felled by Nov. 25 knee injury and saw his quick start (2.5 sacks in first seven games) go by the boards. Key to run defense that finished 17th in NFL (118.5 yards per game) and suffered from having to face Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson twice in regular-season play. Set a career high in tackles (37).
DE Mike Neal: Proved to every doubting Thomas why the Packers stuck by him through two injury-riddled seasons and a four-game PED suspension to start the year. Played only 323 snaps as situational pass rusher but finished with 4.5 sacks (second only to Clay Matthews on the team) along with four QB hits and 17 hurries.
DE Jerel Worthy: Rookie second-round pick who flashed vast potential but lacked the discipline that line coach Mike Trgovac demands. Suffered season-ending knee injury in regular-season finale that he claimed was a bone bruise but turned out to be torn ACL. Played 467 snaps but had only 2.5 sacks, one QB hit and five hurries to show for it. Had three offsides/encroachment penalties.
DT Jordan Miller: Practice-squad call-up who played just 15 snaps after his promotion on Dec. 11.
OLB Clay Matthews: Now 4-for-4 on Pro Bowl selections, although won’t play in the game after pulling out last week. Finished fifth in the NFL in sacks with 13.0 despite missing four games with a Nov. 4 hamstring injury. Had three more sacks in the playoffs and finished with 14 QB hits and 30 QB hurries in 877 total snaps. A legit superstar who must assume greater leadership role.
OLB Erik Walden: Actually played well for much of the season before abominable performances late in the year against Minnesota (Adrian Peterson, Joe Webb) and San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick). Shared time but still played an OLB-high 882 snaps, recording two interceptions, three sacks, 11 QB hits and 15 hurries. Played on one-year, minimum-salary deal but may not return.
OLB Dezman Moses: Rookie free agent was the darling of the undrafted class. Played 504 snaps and recorded four sacks, five QB hits and 12 hurries while sharing time with Walden after Nick Perry’s season-ending wrist surgery. Might be the type of hard-hitting player the defense could use more of.
OLB Nick Perry: Rookie first-round pick suffered a wrist injury in the Sept. 9 season opener vs. San Francisco, played through it, then suffered a knee injury at Houston on Oct. 14. It was the wrist injury that ended his season after only 211 snaps, during which he managed two sacks – including a forceful blow to Colts rookie Andrew Luck that drew a controversial penalty and $15,000 fine – along with eight hurries. Struggled early on in transition to 3-4 outside linebacker but appeared to be getting more comfortable. Would’ve been helpful against the run late in the year when Walden looked lost.
OLB Frank Zombo: Came off the physically unable to perform list (hamstring) to find no real role on defense. Was a boost to special teams, earning a pair of game balls, then was inactive for each playoff game. Much like running back James Starks, we may never know how good he can be as injuries rob him of opportunities.