The first padded practice of the 2014 training camp is officially in the books for the Green Bay Packers and now the true test on who is making gains on the field and who is taking steps back is underway.
Thanks to the many Packers beat writers we get a sense of what took place on the field during practice.
Here is what we can takeaway from day three of Packers camp.
Young Receivers Make A Push
The depth at receiver continues to be one of the most interesting stories to track during training camp. While Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jarrett Boykin are a solid trio, look out for the young receivers to impress in camp and make a move up the depth chart.
In receiving/pass defending drills, second-year man Miles White had perhaps the best day on the offensive side of the ball. White could make a strong case for the fifth or sixth spot at the receiver position on the final roster. However, he’ll have to beat out fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis for the fifth spot, who had an impressive day yesterday in non-padded work.
White could move ahead of seventh-round pick Jeff Janis, who’s been sidelined with an illness. Right now with Janis out, it appears the sixth receiver spot is down to White and other returnees Kevin Dorsey and Chris Harper, who both also had good days in padded work.
The guy who is really out to an impressive start in camp is second-round pick Davante Adams.
So far, Adams has caught everything thrown his way, and working with the second offensive unit, he’s matched up against he Packers defensive starters, making his fast start in camp even more impressive.
Adams is a candidate for a breakout rookie season this year, but he’ll have to compete with Boykin for playing time.
Jonathan Franklin Returns?
The biggest surprise of the day was Jonathan Franklin’s appearance at practice.
The Packers released Franklin this offseason because of a career-threatening neck injury he sustained last season. Even though he’s not on the roster anymore, the Packers still view Franklin as a one of them and would like to find a role for him on the team, whether this is in some kind of assistant coaching role or not has still yet to be determined.
Regardless, it’s good to see the UCLA standout back in Green Bay.
Bulaga Off To A Good Start
Bryan Bulaga has become a bit of a forgotten man going into this season. After sitting all of last year because of a torn ACL and half the season before because of a hip injury, it appears the right tackle out of Iowa is finally back to top playing form.
If Bulaga can stay healthy he should be an anchor on the right side of the line. With Bulaga and Sherrod back, and youngsters Bakhtiari and Barclay continuing to grow, the Packers offensive line is shaping up rather nicely.
Who Will Be Returning Kicks?
Today we got our first glimpse at who could be the Packers’ kick returner this season.
With the Packers wanting Cobb off returning duties and none of the returners from last season distinguishing themselves, it appears halfback DuJuan Harris is the frontrunner for the job at this point in camp.
Harris’ balance between being shifty and explosive serves well as a kick returner. He has the burst to be a potential home-run hitter at the position.
Competition at punt returner still appears to be down to Abbrederis, Micah Hyde, and Miles White.
One-on-One Drills Telling?
One of the best drills in training camp is the one-on-ones between the Packers pass rushers and the offensive linemen. This tells us who is explosive off the line and who may struggle to win the battle in the trenches.
Just like last year, B.J. Raji and defensive end Datone Jones are off to strong starts.
Both Raji and Jones won each of their three matchups. However, two of Raji’s victories were against J.C. Tretter, which may be a concern for the second-year man looking to become the team’s starting center.
Jones has already made it clear in camp that he can win at the line and get after the quarterback. However, Jones has to show improvement against the run. Today, Josh Boyd got the start at defensive end in Jones’ place with the first team in base defense.
It’s still too early to make much out of these one-on-one drills, but we’ll continue tracking each player’s progress over the course of camp. Hopefully, the picture at defensive line becomes clearer the closer we get to the season opener in Seattle.
How Will Hyde Be Used On Defense?
Outside of Julius Peppers, the one other player on defense fans and media seem most excited to see how Capers uses on the field is defensive back Micah Hyde. While Hyde is still getting a lot of looks at safety, he still can play cornerback effectively.
The Packers are already experimenting with the idea of having Hyde, Clinton-Dix, and Burnett on the field together in certain defensive looks. An interesting idea. With Hyde, this gives them the versatility to use him as a third “safety” or extra corner. Heck, maybe they’ll even use him as one of the two inside linebackers in certain sub packages.
He definitely has the tackling ability to hold up well against the run in the box, while still bringing some extra cover ability when facing tight ends or backs in the flat.
Stay tuned for more Packers training camp updates.