The Green Bay Packers 2014 training camp is officially underway, which marks the beginning of a new season.
It’s easy to overreact to reports out of camp, especially so early on, but there are still plenty of things we can take as hints or clues as to what the Packers think about their players and position depth chart.
Here are some of the top things we took away from day one of training camp.
Packers Front Seven Already Hit Hard by Injuries
The Packers already have several players on the injury list to start camp.
To recap injuries from McCarthy: Neal has a core injury. Perry is a foot. Guion is a hamstring, Janis is illness and Worthy is lower back.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) July 26, 2014
Outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry were both placed on the Packers P.U.P. list yesterday because they failed their physicals due to injury. To make things even more complicated at outside linebacker, Clay Matthews is still dealing with a thumb injury he sustained last year and will wear a brace throughout camp.
Clay Matthews practicing with a protective splint on his right thumb. But all his fingers are free. Doesn’t seem to keep him from grabbing.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) July 26, 2014
Matthews still practiced and lined up opposite Julius Peppers as the starting outside linebackers.
Letroy Guion and Jerel Worthy’s injuries were unexpected and could hurt their chances of making the roster. With both veterans out, it will give a second-year man Datone Jones a chances to start at end and may allow rookie third-round pick Khyri Thornton to move up the depth chart and see more playing time in camp.
It’s unclear when Guion and Worthy will return, but with Worthy spending the majority of the last two years injured, he needs to get healthy and be back on the field.
Peppers and Matthews Used Creatively on Defense
The Packers have made it clear on day one of camp that they will use Peppers and Matthews in various ways to throw offenses off guard.
You can see already the different ways Capers is going to use Matthews. Interesting alignments opposite Peppers in the nickel. — Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) July 26, 2014
Coach McCarthy believes the combination of both players will bring a unique dynamic to their defense and make it difficult for an offense to know exactly where either Clay or Peppers are rushing from on any given play.
McCarthy on Matthews/Peppers: Two very impactful players. Want them on the field at the same time as much as possible. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
The versatility of both Matthews and Peppers give the Packers a lot of options on defense. I get the feeling the 2014 Packers defense will have a very different look than in years past. This will definitely be something to track closer as camp progresses.
Bostick Will Get a Chance to Start at Tight End
The Packers starting tight end is far from decided, but in an interesting development, Brandon Bostick took the first reps with the first team on Saturday.
Looked like Brandon Bostick took the first-team TE rep. Packers have repeated the position is wide open. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
Bostick might be the guy for the position. He brings an interesting dynamic to tight end, especially as a big target over the middle of the field. His athleticism also gives him an edge over the other guys at the position.
Quarless did get some reps with the first team later in practice, but it’s interesting to hear that Bostick played with the first team to start practice. It’s too early to know what to make of this for sure, but it will be a position battle we’ll continue to track throughout camp.
Nelson is Earning His Money
The big news of the day was Jordy Nelson’s contract extension.
NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport reporting Jordy Nelson has signed a 4-year $39M deal with $14.2 M guar. Based on practice today he deserves it. — Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) July 26, 2014
It’s great news for the Packers that they locked up their star receiver for the next four years. And all early reports from camp, it appears the money will not change how Nelson goes about his game. He was one of the few standouts on day one of camp.
Jordy Nelson sure looks like a guy in a contract year today. Has caught multiple lasers from Rodgers today. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
Nelson and Aaron Rodgers have a good thing going. Let’s hope this continues and the Packers can get Randall Cobb locked up for the next few years as well.
You have to like what the Packers have at the receiver position.
Hayward Ready for a Big Comeback
Besides Nelson, the other standout player for the day was cornerback Casey Hayward.
Casey Hayward has been tested twice deep by Quarless and Adams and won both times. — Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) July 26, 2014
Hayward also intercepted a deep pass downfield intended for Nelson and appears to be back to top playing form. He was a stud for the Packers defense as a rookie in 2012, but hamstring injuries derailed his 2013 season.
Hopefully, the third-year pro out of Vanderbilt is back to playing form. At least, Coach McCarthy thinks so.
McCarthy on Hayward: I thought Casey stood out today. He’s back. He’s so instinctive with his ball skills. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
A healthy Hayward could go a long ways on this defense. He has the potential of being one of their top playmakers in the secondary.
Nothing is Being Handed to the Rookies
Like every other training camp, the rookies have to earn their keep. Micah Hyde got most of the first team reps at safety instead of first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
During this first D period, it’s still Micah Hyde at safety with Burnett. Peppers at ROLB, Matthews at LOLB. Daniels/Raji/Jones on the DL. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
Jones and Mike Daniels started at end over Thornton, and even Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer worked with the second team at outside linebacker over rookies Carl Bradford and Adrian Hubbard.
I wouldn’t read anything into this yet. It’s the coaches way of not handing the starting job or playing time to rookies right off the bat. Remember, last year Eddie Lacy started camp behind Alex Green, DuJuan Harris, and James Starks on the depth chart.
In other rookie news, Lyerla had a rough first day.
A bad drop by Lyerla on an out route (from Flynn) during 7 on 7. Right off the numbers. — Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) July 26, 2014
Lyerla had several drops in passing drills. The other rookie tight end (Richard Rodgers) and rookie wide receivers (Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis) had quiet days, which is to be expected.
Look for the rookies to make jumps in weeks two and three of camp.
Stay tuned for more Packers training camp updates.