Rookie defensive lineman Mike Daniels had waited a long time to finally suit up for the Packers. The fourth-round draft pick out of Iowa missed all of the OTAs and minicamp workouts in the spring due to a shoulder injury. He had undergone shoulder surgery in January following the completion of his college career.
Daniels got to practice for the first time on Thursday as training camp opened, albeit with a harness for his shoulder (rookie LT Andrew Datko, who has a history of shoulder trouble, wore one as well). It won’t be known if he’s medically cleared to practice with pads on until the first padded practice on Saturday — the same goes for RB Alex Green, who also practiced on Thursday for the first time in 2012 following reconstructive knee surgery — but Daniels was grateful to finally get on the field.
“I won’t lie to you, I was a bit nervous at first, but just getting back in the swing of things, it really did feel good,” Daniels said.
Other news & notes from the opening practice:
–With LB Desmond Bishop (calf) out, second-year pro D.J. Smith took Bishop’s reps with the No. 1 defense. He showed up, too, snagging and interception in a 7-on-7 drill and then on the first play of a team (11-on-11) period immediately after, deflected an Aaron Rodgers pass that CB Charles Woodson intercepted.
“D.J. is a guy who might fool you by his size, but he makes a ton of plays out there,” Rodgers said. “He’s really smart.”
–With Woodson playing safety in the base defense, M.D. Jennings became the fifth defensive back in the nickel package, coming onto the field at safety as Woodson moved to the slot.
–The standout player on defense on opening day was probably CB Jarrett Bush, who worked with the No. 1 base defense opposite CB Tramon Williams with Woodson at safety. Bush broke up a pass to TE Jermichael Finley in a team period and then had another impressive PBU in 7-on-7. Later, in the final team period of practice, he was in great position on a jump ball to WR James Jones, but Jones made a remarkable leaping catch to take the ball away from him. Jones made the play of the day there.
–Also worth noting on defense, LBs Jamari Lattimore and Brad Jones were moved from outside to inside during the offseason, but only Lattimore remained inside on Thursday. Jones was back at his more familiar outside spot. It will bear watching as camp continues whether Lattimore and Jones settle in one spot on defense or work at multiple ones.
–It may have had something to do with the portion of the offense being installed, but it was a busy day for the tight ends in the passing game. All of the TEs, from Finley down to undrafted rookies Eric Lair and Brandon Bostick, got their share of throws. Second-year TE D.J. Williams was in on plenty of action, making one nifty leaping catch on a ball thrown slightly behind him. As for any WRs who stood out, Jordy Nelson looked smooth as always hauling in a couple of deep balls, and undrafted rookie Curenski Gilleylen made a diving catch on an out route from QB Graham Harrell. Later, in 7-on-7, Gilleylen reached up to snare one on a crossing pattern.
–Evan Dietrich-Smith is clearly the No. 2 center behind veteran Jeff Saturday, and he even took a few of Saturday’s reps with the first-team offensive line. Two other young centers, former practice-squad player Sampson Genus and undrafted rookie Tommie Draheim, were rotating between taking snaps at center and guard. Draheim is trying to make the transition from left tackle in college at San Diego State.
–P Tim Masthay is K Mason Crosby’s primary holder, but the Packers lost their backup holder to free agency when QB Matt Flynn signed with Seattle. The new backup holder? WR Randall Cobb, who held for two successful Crosby FGs.
Tags: bishop, d.j. smith, daniels, finley, green, jones, lattimore, randall cobb, rodgers, Woodson
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