The Green Bay Packers wrapped up the first of their rookie minicamps in 2013 on Sunday.
Head coach Mike McCarthy called it “one of…if not the best” rookie camps he’s run since taking over in Green Bay in 2006.
While only so much useful information can be absorbed from the three-day process—which, admittedly, is much more of a toes-in-the-water experience than anything else—the first real taste of the new crop of Packers did not pass without a few revelations.
Here’s what we learned from the first rookie minicamp of 2013:
Competition breeds improvement at RB: Running back was a position in the spotlight, which is exactly what you’d expect from a minicamp that featured two top picks at a position of weakness from last season. Coach Mike McCarthy called second-round pick Eddie Lacy “smooth” and “well-coached,” while fourth-rounder Johnathan Franklin was deemed a “natural” in the return game. Any sort of pecking order is still far from determined. But early on, both backs appear to be embracing the idea of a friendly but professional competition. The Packers hope such a positional battle will internally heighten the play from a position that needs to provide more quality in 2013.
Jones and his playing weight: Following the first professional practice for first-round pick Datone Jones, McCarthy said he was “glad” Jones was in Green Bay. Experience playing in the 3-4 and with the terminology of Dom Capers’ defense will put Jones ahead of the rookie curve. But a little tidbit before Jones stepped onto the practice field is also notable: the former UCLA defensive end said he is currently 285 pounds and plans to play at anywhere from 285-290. As of now, it appears the Packers won’t be forcing Jones to pack on a pounds to play the five technique.
Angelo Pease opens eyes: A Kansas State product who entered the NFL with just 96 collegiate carries, Pease stood out at a position which already had a majority of eyes on it this past weekend. After each of the practices, McCarthy praised what he saw in the 215-pound running back. “He’s here for a reason,” McCarthy said of Pease Sunday. A standout weekend in May won’t win Pease a roster spot, and Lacy and Franklin need not be worried. But even after three days, Pease appears to be well on his way to earning a potential place on the practice squad come September.
Tryouts with a chance: At least three of the 27 tryout players in attendance this past weekend—and possibly two or three more—have been signed to the Packers’ 90-man roster, according to Bill Huber. Arizona State’s Brandon Smith, a 6’1″ receiver-turned-cornerback, Tyrone Walker, a productive receiver from Green Bay’s new pipeline school Illinois State, and Washington fullback Jonathan Amosa, who will join John Kuhn and Ryan Roberson at the position, were each signed Sunday. As you’ll recall, receiver Jarrett Boykin went from tryout-to-53-man roster in 2012, so it’s not completely out of the question to think one of the three could legitimately compete for a roster spot this summer. The Packers have room to sign three more players, and could do so as early as Monday.
Coleman makes subtle strides: As a seventh-round pick from a FCS school, B.J. Coleman had very little chance to dethrone Graham Harrell as the backup quarterback in Green Bay last season. In Year 2, Coleman is expected to put up a better fight to backup Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy made note of Coleman’s subtle jump to start 2013, saying he was “pleased” with his young quarterback’s weekend of work. Of course, Coleman has been through the offseason program and should be expected to stand out in a group of first-year players. He’ll now need to impress McCarthy when it counts—during OTAs, training camp and the preseason—to make the jump over Harrell. Only once Coleman’s mental ability matches his physical traits will Harrell’s job truly be in trouble. His quest to No. 2 seems to have gotten off to a good start.
Tretter’s future at center: The Packers played the Ivy League standout at both right and left tackle during the weekend, but the possibility of sliding inside and playing guard and center is still in the cards. Tretter stands just 6’3″ and likely isn’t suited to play on the edges. Early on, he could provide quality depth at either guard spot while the Packers develop him as the future at center. According to Mike Spofford, Tretter spent portions of his pre-draft process learning the basics of playing at the anchor. Like so many of his new teammates before him, Tretter will likely be trained to play at a number of positions along the offensive line.
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.