Stream of Consciousness from the First Padded Practice at Packers Training Camp

Jarrett Boykin catching everything in sight and DuJuan Harris returning kicks were among the highlights of Monday's practice.

I spent a lot of time in a car today doing a whirlwind, in-and-out tour of Green Bay Packers Training Camp on Monday. 

As such, I've found little time to sit in front of a keyboard and share my observations, but as I arrived back home, I wanted to sit down and take a moment to express some thoughts on what I saw take place on the first day of padded practice.

Consider this a stream of consciousness, things that stood out to me at one moment in time, reactions based on one day of practice and not jumping to conclusions.

I shared many of the same reactions on social media but wanted to expand on them here:

 

Jarrett Boykin Caught Everything in Sight

Entering his third season in the NFL, there's no reason to think Boykin's role and production in Green Bay is going anywhere but up.

He's not exactly the deep threat that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobba are, but Boykin just seemed to reliably catch everything in sight on Monday.

Things can change over time, but for the moment being, it's difficult to see second round draft choice Davante Adams passing up Boykin in the wide receiver pecking order.

The reasons for Boykin's success are numerous: he's gaining an intimate knowledge of the offense and knows what to expeect; he's building a chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers; and he knows how to get open.

 

Richard Rodgers Looks the Part

Rodgers was listed as 245 lbs. when he played at the University of California. He's currently up to 257 and looks bigger than he ever did in any college film.

He looked liked he belonged on Monday, and it's easy to see him becoming a three-down type of player in short order.

Rodgers has both size and a fluidity to his game: the type of player the Packers can expect to be be a factor blocking in the run game but still fast and agile enough to get downfield and be a factor in the passing game too.

 

DuJuan Harris Fits Perfectly at Kick Returner

Although a there was a healthy rotation from kickoff to kickoff, DuJuan Harris took reps as the return specialist when the first-string kickoff return unit was practicing.

The Packers want to spare players like Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde, who are expected to play big roles on offense and defense respectively. They want to keep Cobb and Hyde fresh and avoid injury.

Harris, meanwhile, is going to be hard pressed to find playing time in a running back rotation that includes Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

Utilizing Harris on kickoff returns is a good way to make use of his unique combination of speed and compact strength.

I personally worry about the slight frame and concussion history of Jared Abbrederis, but Harris' body seems perfect to absorb the high-impact collisions that seem to happen so frequently on kickoff returns.

 

The Packers Want to See Kevin Dorsey in Action

As usual, special teams coach Shawn Slocum was mic'ed up at practice, his instructions heard by the players and fans alike through the sound system at Ray Nitscke Field.

When the Packers were practicing kick returns, Slocum seemingly called out Dorsey's name more than any other player, wanting to see him get some reps as a kickoff returner.

Following an entire rookie season lost to injury, the Packers want to see Dorsey in action and are giving him ample opportunities to make a fair assessment on his chances to make the roster.

It's up to Dorsey to make the most of them, and he did on Monday, catching the ball without a problem and using his speed to get upfield.

 

Corey Linsley Is an Anvil

Linsley has the biggest arms I've ever seen on a Packers center. In franchise history.

While relatively huge compared to you and me, centers are so often the runts of the offensive line, dwarfed in size by bigger guards and tackles. The Ohio State product is no runt.

Possessing big arms alone doesn't necessarily mean Linsley will be a good football player, but it's something he can hang his hat on.

When it comes to preseason action, I'm interested to see if Linsley's footwork is as impressive as the circumfrence of his biceps.

 

Josh Boyd Is Making the Most of Training Camp

Boyd took turns with the first-string defense several times on Monday as both a base end in the team's 3-4 defense and as one of the two tackles in the team's nickel looks.

It's difficult to say if Boyd would be getting the same opportunities if Letroy Guion, Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal were all healthy, but the second-year player is clearly making the most of the situation.

Boyd didn't flash much on Monday in terms of getting a pass rush, but he looks like he can help replace the stoutness against the run formerly provided by the departed Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly.

 

Sean Richardson Made the Play of the Day

In deep centerfield coverage, Richardson stepped in front of wide receiver Jordy Nelson to make a contested and rare interception of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

One day after being praised by Mike McCarthy during his daily press conference, Richardson showed what had so impressed the Packers head coach.

A year ago, Richardson's relative weakness was being a step slow and out of place in pass coverage, so it was nice to see him make strides in that part of his game.

 

Morgan Burnett Reverting to Old Form

Burnett looked to be in the right place at the right time on Monday, which is more than can be said about his 2013 season in Green Bay, when he was too often found out of place and exposed by opposing quarterbacks.

At one point Sam Shields passed a receiver off to Burnett's deep zone responsibilities, and Burnett was in perfect position to lay a hit on the receiver right along the sideline, letting up and not wanting to lay out a teammate in practice.

It's hard to say if it's due to the presence of Micah Hyde next to him that had Burnett seemingly more assignment sure, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Comments (34)

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Salty Dawg's picture

July 28, 2014 at 06:46 pm

"Be the hammer, not the anvil," That's what coach used to always say. I hope Linsley can be the hammer.

Thanks for your astute observations Brian. Keep 'em coming.

Go Pack Go!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 29, 2014 at 11:52 am

Joe Thomas has short arms and is one of the best LT's ever.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 29, 2014 at 03:05 pm

I want to see them play. I'll decide who I think is better then.

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NashvilleCheesehead's picture

July 28, 2014 at 07:33 pm

Although we are more than 700 miles away, the smell of Packer football is in the air even down here in Tennessee. Go Pack!!

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4thand1's picture

July 28, 2014 at 07:55 pm

Okay cowsuck, your turn to lay waste to all the points Brian laid out. You suck.

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Clay Zombo's picture

July 28, 2014 at 09:26 pm

Wow, talk about jumping to conclusions... I did not know you were a mind reader COW. I guess there was no other reason for Jones to be fighting.

Its funny how ones perception can be so influenced by ones beliefs.

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Evan's picture

July 28, 2014 at 09:30 pm

Interesting thought. And, yes, their 1st and 2nd round pick probably would have been enough to move up a 4-5 spots to grab Shazier.

I can see your point about Adams. While I think he's going to be a good player, the top 3 spots are all but locked up and for the foreseeable future (yes, Cobb will get re-signed). So, how valuable really is a #4 WR? Especially with all the depth at the position. A 2nd round ILB would have been nice, but the position was so thin this year. After Mosley or Shazier, the pickings were pretty slim.

All that said, jesus, slow your roll. It's the 3rd day of camp. Richardson had a nice day. Hyde is still ahead of HaHa. Dorsey is getting every chance to prove himself. But there is still A LOT of time for things to change.

If Hyde and Richardson emerge as we all hope (and Boykin continues on his trajectory) then, sure, there will be plenty of hindsight criticism. But like you said, with the WR and S uncertainty, you can't really fault the picks at the time.

I'm just really liking all I'm seeing and hearing about this team so far. (FYI. In your scenario, hypothetically, the Packers would have Shazier and Rodgers as their top 2 picks. Can't say I would be upset about that. Nothing but great things about Rodgers so far.)

PS: "Yes - Adams sounds like he's doing some good things." From a "ghost" to "doing some good things" in, what, 36 hours? Like I said, slow your roll.

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Idiot Fan's picture

July 29, 2014 at 08:29 am

If the Packers hadn't addressed the Safety position until the fourth round or later, there would be tons of howling from the fans, including Cow. Safety was by far the biggest need heading into the draft. I can see Cow's post on the subject: "When are they going to learn that they can't just plug in some low-round draft pick into the Safety position? They need a PLAYMAKER there. Didn't they learn from trying McMillian? They can't assume that Hyde, who only played two games at Safety in college, can fill that role. ILB was a need, but to use your top two draft picks just to fill one slot when you have other gaping holes on this team, is crazy...."

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Charvid's picture

July 28, 2014 at 10:12 pm

But how often does a team get through an entire season without a wide receiver getting injured and missing some significant time (i.e. Cobb, 2013)?

Having depth there to insure AR has top shelf talent to throw to no matter who goes down isn't a bad thing. This team is going to score points. Even if the Defense improves to decidedly average, we will win the games we're suppose to win. A top 10 D would be great, but if we just improve to middle of the pack I'm fine with that. Most weeks, teams will need to score 30 to beat us

Love the pool of talent they've assembled on offense...I wouldn't have traded up for Shazier.

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Clay Zombo's picture

July 29, 2014 at 12:35 am

Who were they supposed to trade up with? The Bears at 14? Not likely. Rams at 13? Nope not with Aaron Donald there for the taking. Giants at 12, probably not they loved Odell. Titans at 11 maybe but that's awful high to go to draft a guy that was barely looked at as a 1st round pick until after the combine.

Now should they have reacted after Shazier was taken at 15 and tried harder to go up and get Mosley, yeah maybe but its water under the bridge.

Im sure you had Ryan Shazier going to Pittsburg with the 15th overall pick all along though.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 29, 2014 at 03:04 am

I see your point, Clay. At 11, the Titans took Taylor Lewan. I wouldn't have traded a 2nd and a 4th or more to get Lewan, Shazier or Mosley. Shazier went 15, and Mosley 17th. Dallas picked Zack Martin 16th, whom by all reports they really liked, and moving to 16th probably would have taken GB's 3rd and 4th or 5th. Moving up in the 1st round is costly! Strangely, Chicago might have done very well trading the 14th pick (they took Fuller) to GB, since they would have gotten our 2nd (53) and might have had their pick between Fuller and Ha Ha at 21! [In fairness, Chicago might have had to send their 5th or 6th round pick to even out the trade.]

In any event, if GB had traded up and thereby lost Adams, TT might have been looking hard at say Dante Moncrief at 85 (Moncrief went 90th) instead of Thornton. Come to think of it, that might have made Stroh happier about such a trade! Well, this is all speculation. The point of this post is that trading up is expensive. The GM has to really like the player to trade up, particularly in the 1st round.

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Turophile's picture

July 29, 2014 at 04:34 am

ILB was like the TE position in the last draft. The most notable players at each position (TEs Ebron, Sefarian-Jenkins, Niklas, Fiedorowicz) (ILBs Shazier, Mosley, Borland, Kirksey) went early and in the wrong slots to be available as Packer picks. Just the way the draft works out sometimes.

Very early looks suggest Richard Rodgers might be a solid alternative, to the top TEs, just as Carl Bradford (OLB) might be a future ILB at some point in the same way OLB Kirksey (went to the Browns) could probably have been able to manage to play inside.

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tm_inter's picture

July 29, 2014 at 05:38 am

Why all the talk about trading up to get Shazier? Safety was the Packers' weakest position and we were extremely lucky to get the best safety in the draft.

The tidbit about Linsley's bicep size is irrelevant. I'd rather know how he fared one-on-one against Raji and other defensive guys compared with Tretter who was reported to be wiped out by Raji.

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Nick Perry's picture

July 29, 2014 at 06:34 am

Thank you for pointing that out about Tretter. I read he was wiped out by just about everyone he faced, not just Raji. I wouldn't say his bicep size is irrelevant either, tells me the boy is in the gym getting bigger and stronger.

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JimTaylor31's picture

July 29, 2014 at 05:53 am

Kinda goofy to go back and "would-if" the draft at this point. I mean we are 3 days into TC and already wishing up draft trades so we could draft Shazier. Totally irrelevant at this point. Bottom line is Ted uses the draft to improve the roster based on his assessment at the time. If C-Dix and Adams turn out to be good players who the hell cares whether he should've traded up because Hyde and Boykin are also good players? The team needed good players and solid depth at both safety and WR. Let it go already. Let's just try to get through camp without too many casualities for a change.

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JimTaylor31's picture

July 29, 2014 at 07:16 am

And why are you so sure that Shazier is a "DIFFERENCE MAKER?" Really, I think you're just blowing smoke out your ass.

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JimTaylor31's picture

July 29, 2014 at 08:15 am

It's 3 days into TC and you're already squawking about who's starting and who isn't and who we should've drafted. You sound like an old lady. Get a grip.

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zeke's picture

July 29, 2014 at 08:24 am

"As Packer fans, we've been program(m)ed to think that rookies can never make immediate impacts."

First Justin Harrell, and now this. Damn Ted Thompson and his thought control! WHERE DOES IT END?

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DraftHobbyist's picture

July 29, 2014 at 07:25 am

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Po4n2xehbc

There is no guarantee that Shazier would be a starter and there is no reason to think that HHCD can't be a starter. HHCD was a huge difference maker at Alabama.

About Adams, we'll see, but he was a HUGE playmaker at Fresno St: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Y-YGtGFQk

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BradHTX's picture

July 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

I don't disagree with you at all on your "difference makers over depth" point, Cow. This is a defense that has been short on difference makers since Collins and Bishop were lost, no question, and it's possible (though by no means certain) Shazier could have been one.

However, it's easy to play the "shoulda" game when you have no idea about the "coulda" part of the equation. As others have pointed out above, there is a great likelihood no team in the 12-14 range (above which Shazier would have been a prohibitively expensive reach) would have made the trade. As we all know, every potential trade requires not just the ammunition to pay for it, but a partner willing to pull the trigger. You can say "shoulda" all day, but that doesn't mean there's a "coulda" to enable the "woulda."

If you're approaching it from the standpoint of "Sure would have been great if..." that's legit, but if you're thinking "They're going to suck again because they didn't," then you're really not approaching it fairly.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

July 29, 2014 at 07:15 am

Not to mention the trades that are being mentioned are idiotic. The Packers couldn't have had filled a bigger need with any better talent. ILB was less of a need, and it all stems around the hate for Hawk. ILB was pretty weak in this draft, and I'll take that all the way up to to the top of the talent pool. When I watched Shazier's tape, he took a lot more missteps than I expected from a guy with as many TFL's as he had. He's the type of guy that can't take on blockers as he tries to avoid them, and that kind of thing might work in the NCAA, but in the NFL the game is faster and it often means you don't get there. Even more worrisome, his motor lacked at times. There was a play against Clemson where Boyd snuck inside of him on a QB keeper and instead of trying to chase Boyd down (I think Shazier could've caught Boyd) he just jogged his way down and allowed the TD. No thanks. I'll take Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. And if people are worried that HHCD hasn't done much yet, don't be. This is how the Packers operate. Rookies go to the back of the depth chart and have to work their way up.

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JimTaylor31's picture

July 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

Totally agree. I liked Shazier also but he wasn't there. Dix was there. Ted picked Dix. Good move IMHO. End of story.

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Jordan's picture

July 29, 2014 at 04:49 pm

The biggest advantage Shazier would have is the ability to stop Kapernic and/or Russell Wilson. Kaepernick and Wilson make a lot of plays with their feet. They are both 4.5 guys. Packers don't seem to have an answer for it.

It's not really about whether or not the packers will make the playoffs......it's whether or not they can beat SF or Seattle in the playoffs.

Safety was the Packers top need, but stopping Kaepernick and Wilson is really their top need in all practicality.

The packers have had a very low success rate on corner blitz vs kaepernick. It was a bread and butter capers call with Woodson, but these other guys aren't getting it done. Kaepernick looks like he can run at any time against packers with impunity. Probably same with Wilson.

Can the packers catch and tackle Russell Wilson? Can the Packers catch and tackle Kaepernick? We'll soon find out.

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Clay's picture

July 29, 2014 at 08:57 pm

Cow actually making sense???

Am I dreaming???

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DraftHobbyist's picture

July 29, 2014 at 06:51 am

I'm a big believer that the reason Burnett was out of position last year was because he was trying to make up for the incompetence of other S's. About who will start opposite Burnett, it seems lots of people think it's Hyde's job to lose. I don't see it that way. Sean Richardson is set to make a big jump. The team was clearly better with him on the field last year. HHCD was a first round draft pick and arguably the best safety in the draft, although he does have a lot to learn. I'd be surprised if Hyde won the job. In the end, I think we will see many players playing the 2 safety positions and we may see some 3 safety sets. All I know is we are LOADED at DB between CB's and S's. As usual, injuries will probably have a big impact on sorting these races out.

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Imma Fubared's picture

July 29, 2014 at 10:17 am

Overall I though it was a decent draft but have to say, it was time the Packers started drafting play 'makers' instead of bodies.
I partially agree we needed safety help but I also felt we needed D line, O line, Inside Linebacker help as well.
This was anything but a strong defense last year. I remember clearly, they were a D that could not get off the field due to lack of pass rush, lack of run support and a porous defensive backfield. You have to ask yourself as T camp progresses, did we improve an if so how much.
I could care less about the passing game and running game. We know that works.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

July 29, 2014 at 02:03 pm

I think you are making the mistake of looking to the rookies to make the biggest impact. The players that tend to upgrade the team the most are the injured players, the players that were rookies last year, and sometimes FA's. Datone Jones should have a huge impact on the pass rush. Clay Matthews missed 5 games last year. Nick Perry is coming back from injury last year. We added Julius Peppers as a bigger name FA.

In regards to the OL, I feel like people are never happy with it. I'm really happy with it. Our only weak spot in my eyes is C and we have options there. It also happens to be an easier position to find a body for as C's don't have to be super athletic. I love Bakhtiari, I love Bulaga when he's healthy, I like Sitton a lot, and and Lang is plenty good IMO.

I don't think we'll see OL addressed next year with a high pick, I do think we'll see LB addressed, though. Hawk is getting older, Jones has been inconsistent. and while some of the depth guys have showed promise, they haven't shown the consistency to prove they are a starter. So I'd be surprised if we didn't see a LB in Day 1 or 2 next year.

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jmac34's picture

July 29, 2014 at 01:42 pm

To be fair, it was sort of surprising that Shazier and Mosley went as early as they did. Thompson was probably going to get a player that he liked if he stayed at 21 like he did. That player just ended up being HHCD. Would Mosley and Shazier been picked by Thompson ahead of HHCD? maybe (I think so), but that really doesn't matter any more.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

July 29, 2014 at 02:11 pm

I don't think so to be honest. S was weak last year. Mosley had MAJOR injury concerns. Also, imagine waiting until the end of the 3rd round to improve the S position, which was easily the worst position last year. I would've been upset about that. We also just lost James Jones in addition to Nelson, Cobb, and Boykin all having contracts coming up soon (until the Nelson extension). I just don't see how an ILB when we have Hawk and Jones and when we are adding more 4-3 elements to the defense makes more sense than a S and WR when S is an extreme need and WR took a big hit and may take another big one. (Also, having options helps negotiations.)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 30, 2014 at 01:46 am

All I asked for in the first round is that one of the four (Mosley, Shazier, Pryor or Dix) would still be available at 21. I was elated when Dix was there. I still am. I think Dix is extremely likely to be a good to a very good player, and might have been the safest pick. I responded to COW by noting how expensive it is to trade up. I love it when TT drafts "football players." Watching Hayward and Hyde, both of whom have good but clearly not elite athletic gifts, shows the value of having players with instincts, football IQ, and love of the game. Athletically, Shazier and Pryor have elite attributes, but I think Mosley and Dix are football players.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

July 29, 2014 at 03:13 pm

That locker interview with Mike Daniels...

ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!

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Clay's picture

July 29, 2014 at 08:58 pm

Hell yea!

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Clay Zombo's picture

July 29, 2014 at 06:59 pm

You know who is gonna end up being another Mike Daniels type of player, Carl Bradford. Just wait and see.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

July 30, 2014 at 07:48 am

I hope so. But he has a lot to prove first. I do believe he is a gamer.

I honestly feel Mike Neal is really going to shine. He's lost more weight and should be more comfortable at OLB.

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