The Green Bay Packers held their third and final open session of organized team activities (OTAs) in 2014 Tuesday afternoon.
Now, only a mandatory minicamp held next week separates the Packers from summer vacation. After next Tuesday, we won't see the players again until training camp.
Here's what we took away from Tuesday's final round of open OTAs:
Rich Rod's Strong Start
Out for the Packers tight end group may be Jermichael Finley, an athletic marvel who was sometimes frustratingly inconsistent catching the football. In is rookie Richard Rodgers, who might not be as dominant an athlete as Finley but who has gotten off to a quick start catching the football at OTAs. Rodgers made a number of difficult catches Tuesday, and later drew praise from both Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. A strong start is great for the rookie tight end, but just a word of caution. Remember, D.J. Williams was once a June All-Pro. OTAs feature no pads and no contact, and the introduction of both crucial aspects to the game can sometimes erase players come fall. I'm not saying that'll happen to Rodgers, but we really can't say anything definitively about him right now. As McCarthy said, no job will be won in June. Hopefully Rodgers can continue his impressive month in August during camp.
Again, it's only June, but McCarthy has made it crystal clear that he considers Micah Hyde a "three-down" player for the Packers defense. He's used the phrase many times about Hyde this offseason, and there's really no reason to think he's bluffing. McCarthy wants the second-year defensive back on the field. The guess here is that defensive coordinator Dom Capers does too. Expect the Packers to use him at safety and slot cornerback, based on situation. McCarthy said Tuesday his transition to the back end is off to a good start. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might be a first-round pick at a need position, but he likely won't be a immediate full-time player with the need for having Hyde on the field.
Don't Sleep on Rich
Clinton-Dix will get the press, and Hyde's emergence in the secondary is a big story. But don't forget about Sean Richardson in the safety mix. His size is a big asset, especially against the run. McCarthy commented about how he shows up more with the pads on, mostly because he's uniquely sized and he plays a physical brand of football. Now, if he can figure things out against the pass—Richardson intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the 11-on-11 session Tuesday—it'll be hard to keep him off the field. Wouldn't it be something if the Packers suddenly have a logjam at the safety position? If Richardson takes a step forward, Hyde emerges as a legtiimate safety option and Clinton-Dix pans out as a first rounder, the Packers will be mostly set at the position. Those are all big ifs, and playing the "what-if" game burned Green Bay at safety last season. But this group feels like it should be much more well-rounded than the one employed by the Packers in 2013.
Tretter on Center Stage
McCarthy sounds very confident in JC Tretter's ability to play the center position. It might be nothing more than coach talk, or his way to deflect any potential criticism from the fact that the Packers are going on their fourth starting center in as many years. But he sounds geniune, and it also sounds like his players have developed a respect for the second-year offensive lineman. The Packers always talk about the second-year jump for players, and while Tretter missed almost all of his rookie season, McCarthy still considers him one of his sophomore players. Tretter has a real opportunity to be Green Bay's starting center for many years, which is something the club hasn't had since Scott Wells. His summer is off to a strong start.
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