You'll often hear coaches rhetoric about forcing rookies to earn everything at this time of year. Teams don't want to give draft picks the impression that their high draft status will get them any opportunities that a hard-working undrafted or tryout player wouldn't get.
Then there's the Green Bay Packers approach. After the lack of a well-rounded pass rush was partially responsible for a disappointing end to their 2011 campaign, the team is wasting no team plugging first-round outside linebacker Nick Perry and second-round defensive lineman Jerel Worthy in with the starters.
Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Perry played with the first-team defense and Worthy played with the first-team nickel package in the team's OTA practice this week. It isn't because head coach Mike McCarthy doesn't put that much stock in rookie performances during OTAs. His comments indicated just the opposite:
"You have 12 opportunities to learn your job and, frankly, if you don't know what's expected of you by June 14th, your chances to make our football team drop drastically. And that's our focus."
What's expected of Perry and Worthy might be a lot for them to digest since they are both playing new positions. Perry was a 4-3 defensive end and Worthy was a 4-3 defensive tackle. Now both will be adjusting to their new responsibilities in the Packers 3-4 defense.
The team is in a championship window, so McCarthy's sense of urgency is understandable. Still, it won't be surprising if Perry and Worthy's fast-track development results in some embarrassing moments in the preseason. That won't make McCarthy regret his approach. Gaffes in the regular season will even be tolerable if it means Perry and Worthy are ready to change the outcome of the Packers' postseason. The team might not say that the duo is officially installed in their new first-team roles, but don't expect to see anyone but Perry and Worthy in those spots when the Packers open the regular season against the 49ers.
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