Forgotten amidst his breakout season as a receiver in 2011 was the fact that Jordy Nelson remained a regular on special teams, particularly on the kickoff-return unit as a blocker. He has resumed that role in camp, though Mike McCarthy said how much Nelson plays on special teams this year will depend on how the rest of the roster takes shape. Despite 1,263 receiving yards and 15 TDs last year, Nelson isn’t being removed from special teams, but McCarthy doesn’t plan to overwork him, either.
“Philosophically, I believe in starters should or could play special teams,” said McCarthy, who used starting cornerback Tramon Williams as his primary punt returner throughout the Super Bowl season of 2010. “I don’t think there’s an absolute as far as starters play or don’t play. I don’t believe in that theory.”
In addition, WR James Jones could be seen on Friday on the punt-return unit, not with the ball in his hands but either rushing the punter or blocking the gunners on the outside.
“He’s doing some really good things,” McCarthy said. “He definitely has the ability to be a dominant-type special teams player because he is so physical and gifted, and he also can run and play the top-notch gunners.”
There already has been much speculation about how many receivers the Packers will keep on the roster. Practice-squad holdovers Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel are sixth and seventh options at the position at the moment, and McCarthy indicated special teams contributions will play into those final decisions.
Other news & notes from Friday’s practice:
–On the sideline in the Don Hutson Center was a new clock, which was set at 2.5 seconds and would start at the snap of the ball on a passing play. If the clock hit zero before the QB released the ball, the clock’s twirling green and red lights would flash. The clock serves as a reminder of the “internal clock” needed on any passing play, for the QB, receivers and defenders. QBs must release the ball or get out of the pocket, while receivers and defenders have to know when the play transitions to a scramble drill, when their responsibilities and adjustments can change. McCarthy said 2.4 to 2.5 seconds is the range on most pass plays.
–With Derek Sherrod (leg) out, Herb Taylor and rookie Andrew Datko have been the offensive tackles with the No. 2 offensive line. On Thursday, Datko was at LT and Taylor was at RT with the second unit. On Friday, they switched spots.
–Dom Capers often likes to work his outside linebackers in pairs. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry form the top pair, of course. The other pairings are undrafted rookie Dezman Moses with Erik Walden and Brad Jones with Vic So’oto.
–The biggest collision of the first two days of non-padded practices occurred when QB Graham Harrell scrambled to his right and fired along the sideline to TE Ryan Taylor. Several players were converging on the area, and as Taylor made the catch, WR Shaky Smithson and CB Casey Hayward collided heads and went down. Both got up and appeared OK.
–Hayward made his first “splash” play of camp, picking off a Harrell pass intended for Borel during a no-huddle period.
–The play of the day was turned in by Cobb, who went deep against Williams as QB Aaron Rodgers ran his patented play-action fake with a deep dropback. Cobb ran underneath the Rodgers rainbow and made an over-the-shoulder, sliding catch with Williams right on him all the way.
–WR Greg Jennings was looking in midseason form, too. Twice in practice Rodgers lobbed one up for Jennings on a go route and the smooth, seasoned pro came down with it both times. On the first, he beat CB Davon House with a diving catch. On the second, the throw came right over CB Charles Woodson’s shoulder and into Jennings’ arms.
Tags: aaron rodgers, greg jennings, james jones, jordy nelson, randall cobb, special teams
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
Packers team leader Charles Woodson welcomes the kind of verve rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy displayed in practice on Friday.
“I like our energy. I think that’s something we were missing last year,” Woodson told reporters following Friday’s practice, which was moved inside the Hudson Center due to rain.
Woodson delivered a kind of an unofficial state-of-the-defense preseason address to reporters. He began his remarks with thoughts on his move from cornerback to safety.
“I’m going to roam a little bit. It’s different than corner. It’ll be fun to play more safety. It’ll play to my advantage,” he said.
He also addressed the attempt to improve a defensive unit that fell to last in the league in 2011, following a No. 5 overall ranking in 2010. Poor tackling was a major contributor to the decline of the Packers defense last season.
“Any time there’s a defect in your game, it has to be an emphasis the next year. We have to make sure our defense is a fast and flowing defense, and if the first guy doesn’t get him, the second guy does,” Woodson said.
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Packers second-round draft pick Jerel Worthy attracted attention and criticism for a comment he made at Michigan State about needing to take plays off once in a while. Worthy took no plays off in Friday morning’s practice. The defensive lineman was the high-energy player of practice, which was forced indoors by rain.
Worthy chased after receivers following completions. His voice could be heard celebrating defensive stops and his motor never stopped. Worthy was all over the field and finished a couple of plays on the turf in a tangle of players he created.
Most notably, it appears Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers might have had his two-down lineman nickel defense in mind when Worthy was selected with the 51st overall pick of the 2012 draft. Worthy and B.J. Raji are the two down linemen in the Packers’ nickel defense, and it’s a role Worthy appears to relish. He was a chase tackle at Michigan State and he appears to be reveling in the space he has to operate in Capers’ nickel, which is clearly in Capers’ plans for this season.
Also in Friday’s practice:
…It’s becoming obvious the Packers have a creative role in mind for second-year wide receiver Randall Cobb.
…Backup quarterback Graham Harrell threw arguably the most impressive completion of the morning, a deep out to Cobb, who caught the ball and turned up field to pull away from rookie safety Jerron McMillian, whose coverage on the play was tight.
…Safety M.D. Jennings made an interception off a deflection.
…Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ signature pass might be the back-shoulder throw, and he tossed a beauty of one to Jordy Nelson along the right sideline. Unfortunately, Nelson dropped the pass.
…Undrafted free agent linebacker Dezman Moses appears to be competing for more than a roster spot. He appears to be competing for playing time.
…First-year safety Anthony Levine broke impressively on a pass along the sideline and nearly made an interception.
Tags: aaron rodgers, anthony levine, b.j. raji, dezman moses, dom capers, graham harrell, jerel worthy, Jerron McMillian, jordy nelson, m.d. jennings, randall cobb
Posted in Packers.com Blog