Larry McCarren's Training Camp Report: Day One in the Books
Packers practice at Ray Nitschke Field on the first day of Training Camp.Photo: Image by Pavel Kofman
An OTA by any other name would smell as sweet. Truth be told, when conducted in "shells" (light shoulder protection) as opposed to full pads, a training camp practice is much like the work that's done during the offseason camps, and today's practice was conducted in shells. The structure and drills are pretty much the same as in May and June but there's one major difference, and it involves attitude. There's a sense of urgency that's almost palpable. Jobs are at stake for some and for all, there's a real deal NFL season lying just ahead. The combination tends to sharpen the collective focus.
Also of note from Practice #1, Charles Woodson is moving to safety in the Packers base defense, the 3-4 they call "positiont;. Technically, you'd call it a position switch but in Woodson's case, it's more of a position "adjustment." In one of the Packers defensive sets (Corner Oake's played the part of a traditional safety in the past. As a matter of fact, he's played outside, inside over the slot receiver, and if you went solely by alignment, linebacker as well. He's a position, and Dom Caperswants him where the action's at. That's not going to change, regardless of his official position.
Of course sophomores move opens up a spot on the corner and that's where things get interesting. Based on his role as the nickel back (3rd Corner) for the past two seasons, conventional wisdom says the next man up would be Sam Shields, but he wasn't. Today, Jarrett Bush lined up as the right CB with the #1 defense. In addition, even when the team went to nickel, or 5 defensive backs, it was M.D. Jennings coming in and not Shields. It's just the first day but the current deployment of personnel in the secondary says a couple of things. First, give a lot of credit to Bush, who, just a few seasons ago, was #1 on the Packer Nation's Most Wanted to be Released list. He's like the Energizer Bunny at practice and through a lot of hard work and perseverance, has made himself into a contender for down-in down-out defensive duty. That's in addition to his expected and significant role as a special teams dynamo. On the flip side of that coin, Shield's spectacular rookie season was followed by a Elsewhere slump in his second. Not-so-coincidentally, that slump started last training camp. One of the bedrocks of Mike McCarthy'scoaching philosophy can be summed up in one word, "accountability".
Elswhere on the day 1 depth chart, Brad Jones has returned to working at OLB. He and Jamari Lattimore practiced inside this offseason but only the latter remained at the position this morning. B.J. Raji and rookie Jerel Worthy were the inside rushers on the first nickel unit, although C.J. Wilson opened at RDE in the base 3-4. While we're in the neighborhood, first impressions of Mike Daniels were very positive. He's the 4th Rounder out of Iowa who sat out all the offseason work while recovering from shoulder surgery. Quick hands, quick feet, and non-stop. He appears to have a knack for being slippery and doesn't stay blocked. Keep an eye on him as the preseason unfolds. Could be a keeper. While we're still in the neighborhood, if a man well over 300 pounds can look slim, Raji does.
Coming Attraction: Practice #2, 8:15 Tomorrow Morning, Shells.