The Green Bay Packers started their OTAs last week with quite the buzz heading into the 2012 season. This should come as no surprise after the success Green Bay saw last year coupled with an impressive draft class that addressed the majority of their needs on the defensive side of the ball.
While it may be a little early to read too deeply into what the roster and starting lineups might look like in 2012, there were definitely some players that saw their stock rise during the first OTAs. Here is a look at three of those players.
After an impressive rookie campaign in 2010, Sam Shields struggled to improve during the 2011 season and actually took a few steps backwards in his development.
The 2012 season is going to be an important one for Shields' future, so it was nice to hear that he came into the first OTAs looking focused and motivated. In fact, Shields made the play of the day, according to Vic Ketchman and Mike Spofford of Packers.com, when he intercepted Aaron Rodgers on a deep pass intended for Jordy Nelson.
With so many young cornerbacks behind Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson who are fighting for playing time, Shields will need to continue to impress if he wants to see more playing time.
With the starting safety position next to Morgan Burnett completely wide open, there are plenty of young players looking to make an impression and win Nick Collins' former job.
In just his second year in the league, M.D. Jennings might get the first chance at replacing Collins. Jennings had one of the most impressive performances during the OTAs which saw him intercept Aaron Rodgers.
Once again, Vic Ketchman and Mike Spofford at Packers.com give a brief description of how good Jennings looked on the field next to Burnett and the first-team defense. The safety position was one of the biggest issues for the Green Bay Packers last year, and any improvement would do wonders for the overall play of the defense.
While Clay Matthews didn't exactly do anything impressive on the field to improve his value, it was a decision made before OTAs that is making Matthews' stock rise.
Matthews switched from left outside linebacker, where he's spent his entire career, to right outside linebacker for the sake of Nick Perry. He's leaving his comfort zone and the only position he's known in order to help the Green Bay Packers.
Even though Matthews didn't have the gaudy statistics in 2011 that he saw in previous years, he definitely took major steps forward as a more complete player. His willingness to switch sides at linebacker just goes to prove how confident he is in his overall skills.