The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday, which represents the last major event on the team’s schedule before training camp begins in late July. That’s right—things are about to die on the Packers’ front over the next several weeks.
While the team technically only practiced twice in three days—a clay shooting trip was sandwiched in the middle on Wednesday—there was still plenty to gather from the 2012 minicamp.
Below, we break down everything you need to know from the Packers’ minicamp:
Dezman Moses is making noise
No first-year player participating in minicamp was as impressive as Moses, an undrafted free agent from Tulane who may turn out to be a worthy competitor for a roster spot at outside linebacker. He looked quick, strong and instinctive, even if the action came in just shorts and helmets. The Packers rewarded him throughout the week with first-team reps while Clay Matthews sat out.
If Moses can translate his showing from this week and OTAs to training camp, we could be looking at another undrafted free agent making a talented Packers’ roster. The work is far from done for Moses, however.
Graham Harrell has the No. 2 QB role under control
One of the question marks coming into this spring and early summer was the team’s backup quarterback position, but the Packers appear cozy with Harrell behind starter Aaron Rodgers. Harrell bulked up in Texas this offseason and appeared to have more zip on his ball during both OTAs and minicamp. His decision-making looked more decisive, too.
While Harrell lacks NFL experience (no games played), the chances of the quarterback depth chart looking anything different than Rodgers-Harrell-B.J. Coleman are nearing zero. If Rodgers has to miss any time during the 2012 season, Harrell will almost certainly be the man leading this team.
Diondre Borel and Davon House have made progress
Head coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t shy in showering Borel and House with praise following the three-day minicamp. He singled out the pair on as two young players who have made significant progress from Year 1 to 2.
Borel, a former quarterback at Utah State who has transitioned back to receiver in Green Bay, made several plays in the slot and caught the eye of Rodgers after Tuesday’s practice. If the Packers keep six receivers, Borel (6-0, 199 lbs.) might be the leader in the clubhouse.
On the other side of the ball, House, a 2011 fourth-round pick, was one of the bright spots. He added some weight in the offseason, but he’s also completely healthy—something House couldn’t say for long stretches during his rookie season. With a solid training camp, House could push for a big role in 2012.
Nothing new for Charles Woodson
Those expecting to pin down the role of Woodson for 2012 were likely disappointed in what the Packers showed during camp. The veteran cornerback took all his snaps as the inside corner, handling the slot receiver like he has for several years now. The reps at safety never happened.
Instead of making a full-time switch to safety like some have speculated, the most likely role for Woodson next season is one similar to what we’ve already witnessed: Playing inside primarily, with some snaps at safety, but always on the move. Even at age 36, Woodson is still the chess piece defensive coordinator Dom Capers can do the most with.
M.D. Jennings getting valuable reps
Veteran safety Charlie Peprah sat out again during minicamp, which opened up reps for several youngsters at the backend. Jennings, an undrafted free agent last summer, was the biggest beneficiary, as he took first-team reps for most of the OTAs and minicamp.
No one should pencil him in as the team’s opening day starter opposite Morgan Burnett, but the team isn’t going to waste reps on a player that can’t handle the role. It appears the Packers are willing to give Jennings every opportunity to win the starting job. Peprah will be in the mix, along with 2012 fourth-rounder Jerron McMillian and practice squad safety Anthony Levine.
Tramon Williams still on the mend
Injury can be a convenient excuse in some circumstances, but there’s no doubting how much a nerve injury to Tramon Williams’ shoulder contributed to his decline in 2011. After suffering the injury in Week 1, Williams went away from his pressing style and played through it.
While the nerve is still in recovery mode—Williams doesn’t know how long it will be before the nerve is 100 percent—he was back to pressing at the line and playing physical during camp. As long as there are no set backs with the shoulder in training camp, it’s safe to say we should see a different Tramon Williams to start 2012.
Mason Crosby in midseason form
It’s hard to believe that some were split on the Packers’ re-signing of Crosby last summer, but the kicker has emerged as one of the NFL’s very best over the last 12 months. Crosby didn’t lose any of his 2011 momentum during minicamp.
He made several long kicks, including one from 56 yards and another from 70. Special teams play is always hard to predict from year-to-year, but the Packers need not worry about their kicking situation ahead of 2012.
D.J. Smith continues to impress, A.J. Hawk slims down
Hawk will make $4.7 million (after a $300,000 roster bonus) in 2012, but a fascinating positional battle is shaping up between him and second-year player D.J. Smith. McCarthy once again talked highly of Smith after minicamps, noting how comfortable he looked and the big contributions expected of him in 2012. Smith had some flash plays as a spot starter last season, and an offseason jump could put him in prime position to steal a number of snaps from Hawk.
However, Hawk came into camp in top shape. He even shaved some weight, which Hawk hopes can help him shed blocks better in 2012. The veteran linebacker admitted that he struggled at times last season disengaging. While Hawk may never make the “wow” plays at inside linebacker, he’s always been a solid, consistent player.
Smith still has work to do to leapfrog Hawk on the depth chart. In the end, however, the best player will play.
Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore getting cross-position reps
The Packers front-seven on defense was admittedly poor in 2011, so GM Ted Thompson made it a priority this offseason to restock both the defensive line and linebacker positions. The heavy additions at both have created the needed competition, but with log jams comes the inevitability of a number of names being left off the 53-man roster come September.
Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore are two such players on the roster bubble, but give each credit for a willingness to play and learn several positions. Both Jones and Lattimore have taken reps at inside and outside linebacker, a versatility that could give the two a better chance at making the team.
Filed Under: A.J. Hawk • Aaron Rodgers • Charles Woodson • Charlie Peprah • Cheesehead TV • D.J. Smith • Davon House • Featured • Graham Harrell • Jerron McMillian • Mason Crosby • Mike McCarthy • mini-camp • NFL • Offseason • Packer Defense • Packer Offense • Ted Thompson