Packers OTAs 6-10-14
Todays OTAs started with the same format as previous, defense on one side of the field, offense on the other. This time I thought I would concentrate a bit more on the defense, even though this unit cannot really relay much solid information being these are non-contact, no pads practices.
All three units look to have been upgraded well in terms of personnel. Secondary, LBs and DL have noticeable improvements in raw talent and size since the 2013 season. Some of the players who really stood out today were Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Adrian Hubbard, Carl Bradford, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Mike Pennel and Sean Richardson.
BJ Raji returned to practice, as did Colt Lyerla on the O side. BJ and Daniels are clearly pretty tight, and they look good. I haven’t been able to get a really good read on Khyri Thornton, nor Josh Boyd for that matter, as there really are not a whole lot of opportunities for them or any of the DL for that matter to shine.
Practice started much the same as last week with PR and coverage units. This was far improved over last week, but then again, anything would have been an improvement with how sloppy their drills looked last week. Same players in to return, Abbrederis, Cobb, Hyde and Tramon Williams. They all looked good. Abbrederis looks very, very solid back there as a returner. Coverage was improved, yet he still is able to find openings to break free.
FG units followed, and again, Mason Crosby was on target. He is looking pretty strong and confident. Julius Peppers again lined up over LS to block.
Next were individual drills, DBs, LBs and DL in their respective areas. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is looking pretty solid. Nice hands, had one drop in a drill where they are running at the QB and the throw comes in pretty hot, from less than 10 yds. Dimitri Goodson also looked pretty good today overall, as did Hyde, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo. Hyde has a real aire to him, plays and practices like he’s been there before. I’ve got to say that I’m pretty impressed with this group. Not so much for Davon House, who I was looking to have a good showing but had a few drops. He really needs to step it up if he is going to make this final 53.
Antonio Dennard had a club wrap on his left hand, and I cannot help but think he injured it last week during his viscous hit on Ryan Taylor. Not very smart hitting him so hard while he was up in the air, defenseless. Not sure if that was the cause of his injury however. Dennard did participate fully today.
LBs were doing a lot of agility drills, broken into ILBs and OLBs. Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington look to be much improved players overall from what I was able to see today. I like them both a lot, and I think we are pretty well set at ILB. Jake Doughty seems like he could be something here as well. Again, way too early to tell without contact. These defenders in many drills kind of have their hands tied, and realizing this while concentrating on this unit was a little disheartening, but you can see improved athleticism, and you can tell those who might be taking a step up over the course of these next few months, and those who may struggle.
Adrian Hubbard and Carl Bradford took a lot of reps in pass rush and in coverage, Hubbard right and Bradford left. Both of these guys look good, and like they are more than ready to get after it. Bradford is not tall, not at all, but he has size and power, and should be pretty fun to watch when TC starts. Hubbard is very, very tall, and he looks like he has some raw talent for the position. Good speed and agility, and I could easily see him crashing in as a pass rusher, both standing up and with a hand down. He really could benefit from a full year in the program at the pro level to fill out, but he looks pretty good.
Andy Mulumba looks the part, obviously worked diligently this offseason to add some weight. I can’t say that I saw him do a whole lot today, as I was a bit more focused on Hubbard and Bradford, and when I wasn’t able to watch those two, I kept sneaking peeks to the other side of the field to watch Colt Lyerla, Richard Rodgers, Justin Perillo and the WRs. Wish I had like 8 sets of eyes… man, units working individually all over the field. Was not able to see a whole lot of the DL drills, as they were on the far side of Ray Nitschke Field, across the way.
Didn’t matter too much though, as I got a good look in their 11 on 11 segments, and holy crap do we have a pass rush. Datone Jones really looks outstanding, through light to medium contact, as did Mike Daniels, who looks to have picked up right where he left off. There were some very good looks from this unit, and Raji, Boyd, Letroy Guion and Mike Pennel really stood out. Wow, do we have some size with this group. And, that is not including Peppers, who was working exclusively at OLB this practice. Mike Neal looks a bit bigger this year too, but I didn’t see him do anything remarkable.
Sean Richardson had a nice INT on Rodgers (I believe) in this segment. Richardson was very impressive all day, and it makes me think just how much better our secondary has become. Good to have a Safety back there with his kind of size and speed. We know he can hit, but he really displayed some nice ball skills today. Great to see.
First training camp fight broke out briefly involving Mike Pennel. Gotta love this kid’s fire. He was after it today, and it showed. I couldn’t see who he was bustin’ with, but it didn’t matter, as that was extinguished pretty quickly.
On the O side, I did watch Colt Lyerla quite a bit, through a good portion of the positional drilling, STs unit drills and the 11 on 11 segments. They had him in at H-Back a number of times, and he looked to struggle a bit at creating a hole - most of the time. Again, this could simply be due to the non-contact nature of the OTAs, as well as just being a rookie with players this size and speed on the other side of the ball. As a receiver, forget about it. This kid rocks. I think many Packer fans are going to love watching him play. He makes catches and turns upfield so damn fast, wow. Very good to see, especially with that size and speed. And, this kid has some size. He is easily as big as Andrew Quarless, or bigger, as well as Richard Rodgers, who is no small player.
Speaking of Richard Rodgers, he was equally impressive. The guy can really catch, displayed remarkable ability on a one-handed catch, and he gets upfield quickly as well. Both of these guys have significantly upgraded the TE position, and I would imagine Brandon Bostick may have a real challenge on his hands to make this roster.
Add to it, Justin Perillo had what looked like another good day. He just seems to have the “it” factor when considering the “complete” TE. For a rookie, he shows a great confidence and ability. Also, Ryan Taylor had yet another circus catch today. Taylor clearly came in here to compete in a big way. He looks very sharp.
Something tells me Jermichael Finley won’t be getting any calls from GB for a roster spot. Add to it, these new players all turn upfield with such great, noticeable ease compared to Finley, who often lost his balance or looked to kind of flail after the reception. Nice to see this so naturally from Richard Rodgers and Lyerla. They get the ball, and they look to be gone. You can see it. Both of these players will be very tough to defend and especially to bring down.
Eddie Lacy looked pretty solid. Didn’t get to see Starks at all, so it is hard for me to comment. DuJuan Harris, however, holy shit. This guy is looking like the solid #3 RB, and could challenge Starks for the #2. Man, do our RBs look great. Jonathan Franklin again was held out, which is unfortunate. Makes me wonder if he gets IR’d again. Saw a bit from LaDarius Perkins again, and he does bring talent to this group, even if it is in a small package.
Jeff Janis made a pretty great grab from what I saw, as did Abbrederis. Unfortunately, I do not have a whole lot to say about the WR group other than they are super deep, and I would bet the house we keep 6 to start the season if all are healthy: Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Boykin, Abbrederis and Janis. I just was not focused too much over there this week, and was really trying to glean what I could on our defense.
Carl Bradford made a great strip on the TO drill with players running through the gauntlet. I can’t recall who it was, but the crowd roared. Hubbard wound up with one immediately after Bradford’s. Fun to see Peppers working on Lacy to make the strip, but Lacy held on. Peppers really gave it too.
Bradford stayed on field a little later than all the rest to work on some stuff with his coach. On another note, Derrick Sherrod looks so good. Really happy to see him practicing well, moving well, with some really incredible size. He has worked very hard, and that is readily apparent just watching him.
Pretty good practice, and I didn’t see anyone get hurt which was good. These OTAs are fun to see.