Observations from the Packers’ First Padded Training Camp Practice

Robert Olson provides his personal observations of the Packers’ first padded training camp practice of 2015.

It is getting closer, Packers fans. The pads came on for the first time in Saturday morning’s training camp practice, and there were numerous players and drills that I studied.

Two players in particular who have deservedly received extra attention early in camp are two rookies ­­– former Stanford wide receiver and third round pick, Ty Montgomery, and an undrafted defensive back from Miami (FL), Ladarius Gunter.

Montgomery’s versatility was evident, as he participated as a kick returner and at wide receiver. Other than slightly misjudging the ball on a couple of kick return reps, he looked pretty comfortable back there. If he continues to hone his kick return skills and take advantage of those reps, he could be a difference-maker. Considering how poor the kickoff return unit was during the 2014 season, it would be refreshing to see improvement in that area. In addition, Montgomery showed major flashes at WR during the team session. His ability to gain yards after the catch (YAC) can be valuable for the Packers offense. One of the more notable plays he made was a touchdown on an End Around.

CB Ladarius Gunter has also stood out lately. At 6’2”, he has an advantage that most CBs do not have. I kept my eye on him during the one-on-one WR-DB drills and during the team session. In the small sample size of reps in the one-on-ones, where he mainly played “off” coverage, his footwork looked smooth, and he contested every pass thrown his way. He also demonstrated his potential when he was at CB on the outside during the team session. One notable play was when he was physical with Jordy Nelson and proceeded to break up a pass intended for Nelson on a slant. Excluding the times when was the “Cloud CB” in Cover 2 (about every CB can execute that), his potential was evident. He is a player to watch in the preseason.

Another fascinating sight was safety Sean Richardson occasionally playing the nickel (slot) CB spot, making it a true “Big Nickel” defense (three out of the five defensive backs are safeties). In 2014, Dom Capers typically used Richardson in the base 3-4 defense as a third safety playing near the line of scrimmage (he was substituted in for a CB), and that was a role that fit his skillset. It was surprising to see Richardson in the slot (where Micah Hyde usually plays), because Richardson is not at his best when he is covering in space. That is something else to watch.

It was also interesting to observe the drills featuring the offensive and defensive linemen. Offensive Line Coach James Campen and Assistant Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari worked with their unit on 1) picking up defensive line stunts and “games” in pass protection and 2) performing “combo” blocks to simulate the blocking on an Inside Zone run, which consists of double-teaming the defensive tackle and working up to the linebacker. It is great to see those drills in practice and then see plays on tape that prove the usefulness of those drills.

One final note on the offensive/defensive line: Mike Daniels continues to show why he is one of the best defensive line technicians in the NFL. In the one-on-one pass rush session, Daniels executed a perfect bull rush on T.J. Lang. Daniels’ takeoff, blow/location with his hands, and ability to lock-out his elbows, which are all key aspects of defensive line play, are so impressive.

These observations were based on the first padded practice of training camp, so it is important to not overreact. Things can definitely change, but it was good to finally evaluate players with pads on. It will be entertaining to follow the analysis coming out of future padded practices and to assess each player during the preseason.

Thanks for reading, Packers fans. Follow me on Twitter at @RobertOlson92 for daily analysis on the Packers.

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Comments (54)

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Nick Perry's picture

August 04, 2015 at 07:06 am

I really excited about Montgomery and the possibilities he brings to the Packers offense not to mention ST.

I seem to read something positive about Gunter every morning. Another UDFA gem perhaps?

Not much has been mentioned about Solari but I believe he'll help make a excellent offensive line into a dominant one. The Packers have potentially 4 All Pro offensive linemen on that line right now, he can only help make that happen.

Glad to hear Rollins was back yesterday. He has great athletic ability and a nose for the ball. I really believe the Packers will be better in the back end with Rollins and Randell than they were with Williams and House.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 07:36 am

"I really believe the Packers will be better in the back end with Rollins and Randell than they were with Williams and House."
You spot it. During this off season I watched on NFL Game Pass almost all Packers 2014 games and I can tell you that Tramon is declining fast. The last prove was that "outside" covering WR in Championship game overtime... Davon is OK, but I think he is not that good. By my opinion he is overpaid...

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Tundraboy's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:21 am

I think your right. Eyes do not deceive. Exciting new year.

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Nick Perry's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:17 pm

Funny, That's exactly the play I was thinking about! Didn't Tramon gave up like 14 TD passes last year? House couldn't stay healthy for 16 games, Ted was smart to let him go IMO.

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:45 pm

There are some big-time Tramon defenders who run this site, but honestly I tend to agree with you: Tramon is in decline. House I just can't tell. He's so up and down. He may get his shit together and be an All Pro. He may not and end up being another FA who gets paid way too much money.

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Nick Perry's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:05 pm

Remember the Atlanta game last season? The Packers couldn't seem to stop Jones in the second half until they put House on him. That was also the first game back for Sam S after he was hurt for a second wasn't it? Time will tell but IMO Thompson was right to let him walk. Randell isn't quite as big but he's faster and Rollins has better ball skills.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 07:48 am

'I really excited about Montgomery and the possibilities he brings to the Packers offense not to mention ST.'

You and I both. I can't wait to see how they use him on offense. He has really seemed to jump out early. Honestly as a rookie I want him to be our main kick off returner and hopefully bring some life to it. And I would like him to be the 4th WR. And with his skill set I would like to see him being used as a RB some, similar to how they use Cobb.

'I seem to read something positive about Gunter every morning. Another UDFA gem perhaps?'

Thompson seems to do 2 things extremely well. Draft WR's in the 2nd - 3rd round area, and find CB gems as undrafted free agents. Hopefully this year he won't make the same mistake that he made with Rolle last year.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:20 pm

"Hopefully this year he won't make the same mistake that he made with Rolle last year."

Damn it! I don't know if I posted this or not but I damn sure was thinking it a few days ago. Were we all thinking CB was a weak spot going into the draft? Hell, some of us still thought it was a weak spot immediately after the draft. But man, does the future look bright or what!?

This Gunter kid is really taking advantage of his moment(s). I love it. Have we kept 6 CBs before? Unless someone playing CB is listed as a Safety - this might be the year (if we haven't before). Now, I'm not expecting Pro-Bowl play from rookies, but hell, Sam Shields was thrown into the fire and HELPED us win a SB. I'm just sayin'...

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 11:41 am

Kept 6 last year: Williams, Shields, House, Hayward, Bush and Goodson.

7 if you count Hyde.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:04 pm

I think I said it before on here, but I really like our young talent we have at CB.
Rollins was my guy in the draft. I was very excited to see him getting drafted by the Packers.
Randall has flashed his talent so far.
Gunter has really turned heads from what I have heard. I said before camp that Gunter was my sleeper to make the 53. I don't think he's really a sleeper anymore.

We just need 1 of the 3 to replace Williams early. Williams was good, but he never was the same player he was in 2010.

I am excited to see our young CB's in game action.

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NewNikeShoes's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:20 pm

The talent and potential for our new cb group is sky-high, but it is up to them to achieve it.

From what I hear, they're definitely on the right track.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 07:29 am

Here's hoping TT doesn't pull a Rolle with Gunter.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 07:35 am

I'll second that. I really hope he doesn't make the same mistake twice.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:04 am

Obviously too early...but we have:

Locks:
Shields
Hayward
Randall
Rollins

Last year they kept 6 CBs (not counting Hyde).

So, it's Gunter, Goodson, Sebetic and Glover-Wright fighting for 1-2 spots.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:21 am

I think Gunter (assuming he keeps making plays) will make it and possibly Goodson (mostly because he was drafted).

Add in the safety position and we have:

Locks:
Burnett
Clinton-Dix
Richardson

CB/S:
Hyde

So that leaves at most probably 1 position available for Banjo and Fanor.

Between CB and S they will likely keep 10 (most years they keep that).

Locks are:
Shields
Hayward
Randall
Rollins
Hyde
Burnett
Clinton-Dix
Richardson

That is 8 positions, with likely 2 positions open for DB's. I think Gunter will make it, and that will likely leave 1 spot for Banjo, Goodson, Sebetic, Glover-Wright and Fanor.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:33 am

Sounds about right.

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Nick Perry's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:12 pm

I wonder though RC if they let Goodson go if he doesn't improve dramatically in coverage during TC and the Pre Season. Last year against teams 3rd and 4th stringers he really looked lost. Then it seemed this year at OTA's and Mini Camp, Rollins and Randell passed him by, at least according to much of what I read. If Gunter keeps doing what he's doing he'll make the 53 man roster I'd bet.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 05, 2015 at 06:46 am

Goodson may improve. Lets not forget that he hasn't played that much football either.

I think when they drafted him they had envisioned him to replace Jarrett Bush. So there is a real possibility that he could in a role similar to Bush.

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dobber's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:00 am

Somehow we've made Jumal Rolle out to be the illegitimate love child of Darelle Revis or something. He had a good camp in GB, no doubt about that, but the Packer depth chart was stocked at CB. Two other teams, the Saints and Bills, both took a look at him and passed before the Packers did and tried to stash him on the PS. Right now, he lists at FOURTH on the Texans depth chart at LCB, so it's not like he's currently any threat to start over there.

In the end, yes, he picked off three passes last year, but two came against Mark Sanchez (who even I picked off on the way to work this morning) and one against Zach Mettenberger.

I just don't think that he's all that special. In the end, Gunter might not be either...but it's fun to watch him fight for a roster spot.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:13 am

"In the end, yes, he picked off three passes last year, but two came against Mark Sanchez (who even I picked off on the way to work this morning)"

LOL.

You're right for the most part, but it was/is frustrating to see a get cut in favor of a guy he so clearly out performed (Goodson) all pre-season.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:56 am

I dislike the message that sends.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 10:21 am

What's the message though?

One was drafted...

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 11:47 am

Exactly...draft status trumps performance. I don't think that's a good message.

TT is obviously not going to cut a 1st or 2nd round pick out of training camp (or, hell, even a 3rd or 4th), but a 6th rounder vs a UDFA? Draft position shouldn't matter, imo.

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:49 pm

He's looking at potential too, though. Upside. Not every call will be easy. I don't assume that he kept Goodson just because he was drafted. I assume they kept him because they felt he had more upside. Or maybe they just blew it. Either way.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 04:16 pm

True. And there is obviously a million other factors that we don't see. Maybe Rolle had lazy study habits or was often late to meetings. Who knows.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 05, 2015 at 06:48 am

And that is the stuff we don't see. Maybe personality played into it and he conflicted with other players or coaches or didn't take to the coaches.
That type of stuff we have no idea about.

When I watched the 2 players last preseason Rolle was far and away the better player. But those other factors could have weighed in.

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Nick Perry's picture

August 04, 2015 at 08:21 pm

Remember Ricky Elmore? He was a 6th round pick in 2011, a DL they tried at OLB and was cut before the season started. They kept Lattimore and Vic So'oto instead. Ted will cut a draft pick if he has something better normally.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:24 pm

Lol, good one @Nick

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:18 am

Sean Richardson is a feel good story. Hung in through a terrible neck injury, most folks probably thought he'd never make it. Now he has a second contract. Hopefully he'll have a productive year.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:18 am

Sean Richardson is a feel good story. Hung in through a terrible neck injury, most folks probably thought he'd never make it. Now he has a second contract. Hopefully he'll have a productive year.

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Clay Zombo's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:34 am

I think Montgomery can be every bit as good as Percy Harvin was for the Vikes(as a rookie) without all the headaches (literally and figuatively). This guy is humble and intelligent, two things that will endear him to Rodgers very quickly. Said to have "uncanny recall" when it comes to his assignments and the playbook, so I expect he will contribute on offense more than people think early on this year. Gaining Rodgers trust is the most important thing he can do and not having mental errors is the quickest way to do that.

LaDarius Gunter was an udfa for one reason...speed. Hes plays with great technique and for a guy thats tall(almost 6'2") he can really sink his hips and drive on the ball and has good change of direction ability. Hes also a good tackler, which we wont see till preseason but needless to say we could use more guys like that.

Goodson is said to be really good on STs so if he makes the roster it will be for that reason, not to play CB.

Losing Rolle to the Texans sucked but I just see that as karma, them getting us back for stealing Tramon off their PS years ago.

One guy that hasnt been mentioned but seems to be playing well is OLB Andy Mulumba. I was really hoping Adrian Hubbard would make a huge 2nd yr jump (still hope that) but Mulumba might make that a moot point. The guy is physical as hell and plays the run well. Hubbard needs to make plays in the preseason if he wants to stick around.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 10:22 am

Flawless Victory...

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dobber's picture

August 04, 2015 at 11:08 am

Since the Packers didn't go OLB in an OLB-rich draft this year (when plenty of guys slid to and past them), they must be banking on getting something from Elliott, Mulumba or Hubbard. I think we all would have bet on Elliott, but it doesn't matter to me which guy is productive so long as someone is.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 11:21 am

EDIT: I'd bet on Mulumba before Elliot.

As far as the Pack not drafting an OLB:

This seems to happen every season (I'm guilty of it as well) -- we have to stop forgetting that this team is LOADED and this past season was proof that we have the stars and role players to compete for a Championship. Not so smart plays was the only obstacle. Well, that and Aaron not being 100 percent. But never mind that. I believe MM and TT are getting smart/ hard-working football players. There's no need for these well-known players or top FA's.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 10:11 am

I just seen this tweet:

"Datone Jones will be the pass rush version of Letroy Guion last year."

Uggggh! That's not good enough and it's damn sure not acceptable!

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 11:44 am

What does that even mean?

Datone will mirror Guion's pass rush ability/performance? Not good.

Or that Datone's pass rush performance this year will catch everyone by surprise (as Guion's performance in general last year did)? Better?

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 01:00 pm

I don't know what he meant exactly but comparing a 1st round pass rusher to just a DT can't be good.

Whatever a 1st round pass rusher should look like - Datone has to look like this season in order for that "bust" or "bad pick" to go begin to fade away.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 01:52 pm

Unless he's comparing him to the idea that not much was expected out of Guion and he turned out to be an integral member of the d-line.

That would be a good comparison.

But, yeah, it's very much a make-or-break year for him.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:12 pm

@Evan

"Unless he's comparing him to the idea that not much was expected out of Guion and he turned out to be an integral member of the d-line."

And that's how I took it. If anyone is looking at Datone and expecting a Guion-type impact -- they have already given up hope. Datone was not drafted to get just 3.5 sacks or just 32 tackles.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 01:57 pm

'I don't know what he meant exactly but comparing a 1st round pass rusher to just a DT can't be good.'

If Jones plays like Guion did last year for the Packers, that would be a great thing for our D-Line. Guion was very good last year. I'm not look at draft position, I'm just looking at production. Guion was very productive for the Packers last year.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:04 pm

Was he good because we all thought he would be just a camp body?

or

Was he good compared to our other D-Linemen play?

or

Was he all in all good?

If Datone plays like Guion played last season we're all going to say it is not enough.

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:10 pm

I think the answer to all 3 questions is 'yes.'

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:34 pm

Yes,
Yes, (just below Mike Daniels)
Yes,

I would say that yes he was a surprise player, but good surprise. He maybe didn't have glaring sacks, but anyone that watched noticed he was in the backfield disrupting a lot of plays. A lot more then the stats will show.

That is what I want to see from Jones. Disrupting plays. And to his credit the last few games Jones was doing that.

Don't always look at the stats to define a player, especially someone on the DL.

http://www.packers.com/media-center/videos/Packers-Live-with-Letroy-Guio...

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Evan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:41 pm

Guion was a force in that first Vikings game.

He started slow, but seemed to really come on strong after the bye.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:42 pm

Just below Mike Daniels? I don't know about that one. I think Mike is by far the best D-Lineman on the squad.

And this isn't so much about Guion. I know he's made plays and brought some much needed energy (to go along with Daniels'), but I feel expecting just that from Datone Jones (who was brought in to be much more than that) would be another let down. It won't be as big of a let down as past seasons, but it will be a let down.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2015 at 02:58 pm

Your first question: 'Was he good compared to our other D-Linemen play?'

And I said yes, He was good compared to our other DL, but behind Daniels. Daniels is by far our best DL. I agree. But Daniels was right behind him in being our 2nd best DL last year.

I get what your saying about Jones.

All I'm going to say is lets see what he does after this year and judge him then. It takes a lot of DL until their 3rd year to break out. So lets wait and see what he does.
If he doesn't live up to expectations then we can call it a let down.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:12 pm

Ohhhh,ok. I misunderstood. I thought you were saying overall Guion is near as good as Mike Daniels.

I'm not labeling Jones as anything. I just think setting expectations for anyone along our D-Line would be setting the bar low for him. I like Jones. I think he was playing damn good mid-to-late last season. He should have been close to double-digit sacks. If he starts finishing plays I guarantee there will be no other D-Linemen on this roster anyone could remotely compare him to.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2015 at 04:05 pm

Love Guion and the yeoman job he did playing out of position at NT. I think he might displace Datone and Boyd at DE in base, and provide some inside pass rushing options in other packages. That said, as a NT, he was at best average, and probably in the lower end of the average range, IMO.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 09:25 pm

Well said.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2015 at 10:13 am

Vine clips - anyone???

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 04, 2015 at 03:50 pm

I said this the other day but I'll say it again: The Packers need Gunter to pan out to cover the big receivers. I'm not saying he's a lock, but I think he'll be given every opportunity to be on this roster.

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cheesehead1's picture

August 04, 2015 at 04:55 pm

How has our new 6th round pick TE Bernard Backman fared so far?? I haven't heard a single thing about him.

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Clay Zombo's picture

August 04, 2015 at 05:52 pm

Its Kenard I believe and the only mention of him in TC blogs that I have read was about a dropped pass, which was an issue for him in college.

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ray nichkee's picture

August 05, 2015 at 11:52 am

Wasnt backman drafted solely on his special teams play?

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