Here are a few news items and notes from Day 1 of training camp:
–Runnin’ with the ones: No real surprises as far as the depth chart goes. In the battle for the starting safety spot alongside Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings took the majority of the snaps with the first unit, but Jerron McMillian was rotated in as well. Same arrangement at right tackle, starting with Marshall Newhouse and followed by Don Barclay.
Sam Shields was the starter at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams, and he could hold down that spot for awhile with Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Davon House (illness) missing practice. At running back, there was a steady rotation of work amongst Alex Green, James Starks, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Angelo Pease.
–No first-day jitters: The Packers’ three highest-profile draft picks said they didn’t have any first-day nerves to deal with on the practice field. Neither Datone Jones, Lacy nor Franklin did anything particularly eye-catching, but their enthusiasm for their first pro training camp was evident.
“It was exciting,” Franklin said. “We went through OTAs, so the nervousness got out then, and in rookie minicamp. Today was just learning and understanding the scheme of things, putting things together.”
Jones brushed off even the idea of being nervous.
“I prepare very hard, so I’m very confident in myself,” he said. “I believe in myself that I can get the job done. I’m able to play fast because I know my assignments. I study a lot.”
Friday’s practice was in shells, and Saturday’s will be, too. The first day in full pads will be Sunday.
“Practice without pads is always tough,” Lacy said. “You can’t really run through them, they’re just tagging off. When we get the pads on, it’ll be different. I think I’ll do pretty good with the pads on.”
–Sherrod hopeful: Former first-round pick Derek Sherrod says he feels “a heck of a lot better than at this point last year” in his recovery from a surgically repaired broken leg that cost him all of last season. He reiterated Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s hope that he can return to the field soon, but he’s not putting a timetable on it.
“Just taking it a day at a time,” said Sherrod, who is thought to be a contender in the battle for the right tackle job should he return soon. “It could be tomorrow, it could be whenever, but I’m working very hard and making sure that I am doing everything I can to get out there as soon as possible with my teammates.”
–Neal lighter, but waiting: Defensive end Mike Neal has been dogged by injuries throughout his career, but he called this latest abdomen injury that is keeping him out of training camp a “minor setback.”
Neal worked extensively at outside linebacker during OTAs and has slimmed down to help make the transition. He said he now weighs 275 pounds, down nearly 20 from his playing weight of a year ago.
“It’s more natural for me to be at this weight,” said Neal, a stalwart in the weight room throughout his football life. “I feel better at this weight.”
Neal said the coaches didn’t ask him to lose any weight but left the issue up to him. When he gets on the field, which McCarthy said could be a couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see if the Packers employ him more as an inside or outside pass rusher. Neal had 4 1/2 sacks last season as an inside rusher.
Tags: datone jones, derek sherrod, eddie lacy, johnathan franklin, mike neal, training camp
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