So, in a year where so much is expected out of the rookie class of the Green Bay Packers, which rookie has impressed the least so far? That's a tough question, because most of the rookies have played pretty well, while even those who have had issues seem to have bounced back as of late.
If I had to answer, I would say there are two rookies from the 2012 draft class that come to mind. I would say that fifth-round draft choice LB Terrell Manning and seventh-round draft pick OT Andrew Datko both have had some problems this training camp, but both have also looked better recently.
When training camp first started, it was very clear that Datko was having some serious pass-blocking problems, both from the left side and the right side. It was also understood that Datko was coming off shoulder surgery from his senior year at Florida State, which allowed him to play only four games in 2011.
That is one reason Datko was still available in the seventh round.
But after a tough first week or so, the 6'6" Datko became a lot better in pass blocking, and one could tell that he was trusting his upper body more as he was using his large wing span to help fend off rushers.
A concussion issue kept Datko out vs. the Cincinnati Bengals this past week, but it is hoped that Datko will continue his ongoing progress this week vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Datko did not practice on Sunday, so his status is up in the air.
Datko still has some upside, as he has decent feet, but he obviously needs to get stronger up top.
Manning could have been drafted as early as the third round in 2012 based on some scouting reports, but when he was still available in the fifth round, Ted Thompson decided to trade up and select the play-making LB out of North Carolina State.
Manning had phenomenal stats at times with the Wolfpack, as he left for the NFL after his junior year. Manning's last two years at NC State showed some real big-play ability. He had 151 tackles, including 25 tackles for losses, 10 sacks and four interceptions during that time.
However, in training camp and through the preseason, Manning has not displayed that same ability he was known for in college. Manning did flash at times on special teams, but was almost non-existent on defense when he received playing time.
Manning only had one assisted tackle against the Bengals, but he looked much more comfortable defensively. He looked good on one particular blitz and seemed to be more focused.
The final game vs. the Chiefs will either help or hurt the progress of both Datko and Manning, depending on how they play. Or in Datko's case, if he plays.
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