Green and Bold: Packers to Watch During Minicamp

ILB Blake Martinez is one of many young Packers to watch during minicamp.

ILB Blake Martinez is one of many young Packers to watch during minicamp.

The Green Bay Packers began mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, and will practice through Thursday, June 16, before breaking until training camp begins in July. 

Though minicamp, unlike OTAs, is mandatory, head coach Mike McCarthy excused 15 veterans from practices, in part to provide more opportunities for younger players to step up and show what they can do. 

Ryan Wood of the Press-Gazette shared the list of Packers veterans who were excused from minicamp, including Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Julius Peppers. Wood noted that any veteran entering his sixth season or later appears to have been excused. 

The Packers will have an extra week of training camp this summer due to playing in the Hall of Fame game on August 7. 

Of the young players and players on the bubble, a few have already stood out in the first day of practice, and others are worth keeping an eye on for the remaining two days of drills. Take a look at some of them below. 

 

ILB Blake Martinez

The Stanford product, a fourth-round pick in April's draft, has already been making a name for himself at one of Green Bay's most wide-open position groups. Theoretically, both starting inside 'backer spots are up for grabs during the offseason. 

Martinez played at one of those spots with the No. 1 defense through OTAs and at Tuesday's first minicamp practice. Of course, veteran Sam Barrington isn't practicing as he recovers from a foot injury, but given how much time he has spent away from the field, a starting job is not guaranteed for him by the time he is cleared. 

The Packers drafted Martinez in part because they were missing a solid coverage linebacker over the middle, and he's proving he can offer that ability; on Tuesday, he dropped back into coverage to break up a pass by rookie quarterback Joe Callahan. 

Martinez's head coach is pleased by his progress so far during the offseason. 

"He looks very comfortable," McCarthy said, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky. “I think he’s done a really nice job transitioning from the base defense to the sub defense, his command, the echoing of the calls. He’s very bright. Quick. And he definitely is a very instinctive player. He’s off to a very good start."

 

OLB Jayrone Elliott

Meanwhile, at outside 'backer, third-year player Jayrone Elliott is already making big plays one day into minicamp. 

Elliott deflected a pass from Callahan and then caught it for the interception. 

He also batted down a Callahan pass at the line of scrimmage.

While Clay Matthews will be returning outside this fall to anchor the edge opposite veteran Julius Peppers, there's plenty for Elliott to do on both special teams and on defense, especially given defensive coordinator Dom Capers' frequent use of sub-packages. 

Some would argue that Elliott deserved more opportunities than he received in the middle and latter part of the 2015 season. He played in 14 games with no starts and tallied three sacks, two passes defended, an interception, and a forced fumble. 

Clearly, the linebacker is trying to prove early on this offseason that he's ready to take on more responsibility. 

 

DT Kenny Clark 

The Packers' nose tackle of the future is participating in his first drills since rookie minicamp in early May; the first-round pick wasn't allowed to practice while UCLA was still in session due to an NFL rule that prohibits such. 

Clark finished his career as a Bruin with 164 total tackles and seven sacks in 39 games.

Last season alone, his junior year, he tallied six sacks and 75 tackles.

With B.J. Raji taking a hiatus from football and defensive tackle Mike Pennel suspended for the first four games of the season, Clark has a real opportunity to earn the starting nod at nose tackle for at least the first quarter of the season, and possibly the entire year. The former wrestler players with impressive leverage and should be able to immediately help Green Bay manage the run. 

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Comments (25)

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Bearmeat's picture

June 15, 2016 at 07:06 am

For non-contact mini-camp, this is probably a good list. You want to see these guys in space. Maybe not so much Clark. It's really hard to see line play when you're in shells.

When the pads are on in TC, I'd add Spriggs as a rook.

Also Janis, Randall, Rollins, Ryan, Pennel, Lacy and depth on the OL to see who's made a jump. For obvious reasons, Jordy too.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 15, 2016 at 05:15 pm

Speaking of Spriggs, I wonder if Bahk and Bulaga are already penciled in as starters. Is it their job to lose or will the coaches give Spriggs chances to win a starting job in camp/Pre-Season?

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Bearmeat's picture

June 15, 2016 at 06:35 pm

The former I think.

And also, I think I have a ghost disliker or two. The last couple comments I've made have been nowhere near controversial and they're getting hammered. Ha.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 15, 2016 at 07:36 pm

Lol, don't worry about that, man. I think it's one person with multiple accounts that's disliking everything.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 15, 2016 at 07:08 am

If I were at minicamp to watch players the first thing I would be watching is the rookies. Seeing how comfortable they look already.

The 2nd thing I would be watching is the 2nd year players. Seeing how much improvement they made from a year ago. Most players take a big jump from year 1 to year 2. With Rodgers out I would definitely be watching Hundley to see how much he has improved from last year.

Some other players I would be watching closely are:
-Trevor Davis, to see how well he runs his routes, how well he catches and if he looks to contribute this year.

-Kennards Backman/Mitchell Henry, with Cook out, it will give the young TE's more opportunities. Can either make a jump to be the 3rd TE.

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dobber's picture

June 15, 2016 at 09:09 am

"The 2nd thing I would be watching is the 2nd year players. Seeing how much improvement they made from a year ago. Most players take a big jump from year 1 to year 2"

This is where I'd be looking. Certainly Rollins and Randall are more known commodities, but Ripkowski, Backman, Ringo...even some of the UDFAs from a year ago like Rotheram and Crockett: those guys are the ones that need to be filling in roles on the team to keep the roster moving forward. Of the rookies, I only really expect that Clark will be a regular, but would like to see others in the mix for meaningful snaps.

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pack13xwc's picture

June 18, 2016 at 03:40 pm

Yeah that, and Martinez is a dark horse possibility as well.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

June 15, 2016 at 09:48 am

I think Martinez is a winner, this years team to me is loaded more than ever. Gotta love these players and Elliott is doing what I expected of him.

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Teflon Ted's picture

June 15, 2016 at 05:11 pm

"I think Martinez is a winner"

Of course he is. That's why Teflon Ted drafted him. Ted only wants winners on his team and demands greatness out of each of his players or they are fired. Martinez could very well be the missing piece. I like his progression so far.

This team as we all know doesn't have the great victories anymore like years past. That's all going to change starting in September believe me. I really feel we are going to win so much this season that some Packers fans are actually going to get sick of winning that they are going to plead to Ted to stop winning so much because they can't take it anymore. Teflon Ted of course won't listen and continue to win!! win!! win!!

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 15, 2016 at 10:00 am

As I have said long before the draft, Fackrell is the guy that makes filling or feeling more secure at inside linebacker more likely because his play is what will allow the security to have Matthews go inside to either give aid to the best of the worst applicants for the inside position or move back completely because of any disaster they may arise whether it's injury or simply bad play. Especially since we are again relying on the fragility of Perry to stay dormant, the age of Peppers to stop, the new square peg into round hole experiment of Datone and whether McCarthy and Capers opt to actually use Elliot more than a fleeting blink of the eye.
The inside linebacker position will be filled by default from the group regardless of camp since we've been forced to play those previously under false and to date proven wrong spoken bravados....Thomas, Ryan, Barrington etc and the esteemed Bradford who was the expected darling of many when drafted but more need not be said.

The question on Railbird posed on Clark if it is a good idea to have him learn multiple spots on the DL ....how about letting a 1st rd pick learn his drafted position first to a respected level and add extra curriculum next off season and camp or do we simply do a Raji on him from the start by moving him elsewhere than his actual position.
Of coarse some of the players may come nearer to the hope that was dreamed and I along with most hope it all comes together but imo, the guy that will hold the finger on the crossed laces to tie it together into that nice bow is Fackrell. : )

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

Lol, you never miss your chance to throw a shot at Perry.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm

He has earned every single one imo and the season he needs to have to vindicate himself of the four years of nearer to nothing is unlikely. Besides, can one really justify the money if he happens to shine somewhat. He is already been given one million+ to much for his ' prove it ' year. If he misses so much as 1 game the answer of the future is clear. : )

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 15, 2016 at 01:22 pm

Does this apply to Datone as well?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 15, 2016 at 01:20 pm

Eloquently written. Perry got the market price, I'd say. Yes, I thought Bradford was a tremendous value in the 4th as an ILB, not an OLB. Well, that evaluation is not looking so good to date, but I am not going to hide from it.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 15, 2016 at 02:48 pm

The unspoken bravados are what the reality incapable tell themselves in their minds.

I called no one a bust as you wrongly implied but merely stated that the best of the worst isn't worthy of strong belief of being better than has been witnessed.

I also mention the hope, like many, that these guys make the much needed jump to make the defense formidable which you neglected while making my points convoluted in your reading.

Perhaps comments can just be taken as such and not be graded as being term papers or that of paid writers whom appear unable to stop regurgitating the same basic preface of a player to state one sentence of new value if a value is even offered outside that which is seemingly predictable. : )

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm

The reports about Martinez are encouraging. I'm not sold on either of the other existing options playing well enough to keep CM3 outside. I'd be pretty focused on seeing if he is good enough to be the guy.

I'd love it if Peppers was three years younger and signed for another three years. He is not. So I'd be looking at Fackrell and Elliot to see if either of them look like they can be play-makers when they are going against the 1st string offense.

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Mojo's picture

June 15, 2016 at 03:47 pm

After reading Michelle's practice recap, I was able to identify the key to success for the defensive players mentioned: line up against QB Joe Callahan

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Lphill's picture

June 15, 2016 at 06:05 pm

I think it's Ryan and Martinez in the middle , both have a lot of energy and smarts, if both of them pan out the Pack might be set at inside LB for the future. That leaves a good rotation for the pass rush on the outside , if Fackerell comes on strong then the Pack is set at OLB as well.

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Nick Perry's picture

June 16, 2016 at 06:15 am

When Tarynfor12 started the push for Fackrell before the draft I really started looking at the guy. IMO he's a guy who will give the Packers so much more versatility because they can line him up in any LB spot. His tape is excellent, especially coming off the knee injury. He is far and away one of my favorite picks.
Martinez I think will surprise many and be a starter before many expect. He's smart as hell and like Fackrell he can cover. Imagine, 3 LB'ers counting Matthews who can cover AND be on the field at the same time. More disguise for Capers to keep QB's guessing, who's coming, who's dropping.
Clark is the one pick I really questioned Thompson. I like the kid, I like his ability to rush the QB compared to the Alabama boys, Reed and Robinson or Butler. All 3 were available to the Packers, Reed twice. Because of Pennel's suspension the Packers REALLY need this guy to contribute.

Rollins will be the biggest "Jumper" from year 1 to year 2. I think this kid is the next "Star" for Green Bay.

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Lphill's picture

June 16, 2016 at 01:39 pm

Cow just can't help being an ASS , Rodgers awful seasons stats last year were pro bowl stats for about 28 other QB's , and to call him injury prone ? Stop being a hater cow , grow up .

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dobber's picture

June 16, 2016 at 02:52 pm

Is it possible that earlier in his career, he was fortunate to not sustain injuries? I think you need to be realistic: how many starting QBs make it through a season without missing time--either part games or whole games--due to injuries? Is it possible that what you're calling "injury prone" is nothing more than the law of averages catching up with him? Keep in mind that many of the injuries you point out happened in seasons when he continued to play (without missing time)--as you said elsewhere--at an HOF level.

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pack13xwc's picture

June 18, 2016 at 03:59 pm

Yeah Pack fans were so displeased with those hail marys. There is not a team in the league who would not want AR on their roster. The game is called football, no one escapes injury from time to time.

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Curry Rambeau's picture

June 16, 2016 at 03:31 pm

Another name caller. Childish remarks.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

June 16, 2016 at 03:45 pm

Without trying to take sides or start an argument, AR has yet to learn what Favre learned early in his career. Favre's longevity was due to his ability to get rid of the ball sooner & turn his back to the onslaught of rushing Defensive Linemen. No matter what you want to say about mobility ect, AR needs to get rid of the ball quicker, & learn to do what Favre did, "Turn His Back To The Tackle" More than anything else this is what kept Favre in the NFL.

Yes he played through some injuries, but he kept himself from getting seriously hurt many a time. It probably accounted for a number of interceptions as well.

IMO, Mobility is a Great Asset & AR has it. Unfortunately, all Mobile QB"s eventually get hurt, & it contributes greatly to cutting their careers short.

I'm sure I'll get flack on this, but I tend to agree with Cow on AR's future if he doesn't change his way's. Again, IMO, AR is well on his way to a Season ending or Career ending Injury, if he doesn't change his play.

I think with the Top Protection in the league, AR can be around 6-7 years yet. Without it, I'm not so sure. To sum things up, He takes way too many hits the wrong way. I doubt whether you can change a Top QB's play, but as AR gets older, his play will cause him more injuries. Even the Great Fran Tarkington lost 2 years because of a Broken Leg.

I hope AR's around forever. I wish he'd take a page out of Favre's playbook & not get hit head on as much as he does.

LVT

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pack13xwc's picture

June 18, 2016 at 04:19 pm

My observation is AR has been very evasive and if he has to run gets down when he needs to and that skill can spare injury more often then not. He has one of the quickest releases with perfect targeting in the game when indeed an opening occurs. He tends to throw the ball away as needed but on occasion holds on to try and extend a play if he sees possibilities can develop. In many of these situations he has made plays with the help of teammates managing to finally break free. Last yr receivers were not getting open as often due to numerous issues. Obviously if protection breaks down, any QB may have no time to react against highly skilled defenders. Fact is there are few players who rarely get injured. The nature of the game is violence. Shet happens.

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