Green Bay Packers Who've Turned Heads in Offseason Workouts
The Green Bay Packers offseason is in full swing. The second round of OTAs finished up last week with a handful of players leaving a lasting impression.
While OTAs are often more relaxed workouts due to there being no contact, it's still an opportunity for players to turn heads. From an impressive catch to a strong defensive showing, strong performances in OTAs often have a positive impact once training camp rolls around.
Here's a look at six Packers who've turned heads so far this offseason.
Scott Tolzien, Quarterback
There's no doubt that Scott Tolzien was thrown into a difficult position last year when he was asked to be a starter despite just getting called up from the practice squad. Even though he was eventually benched in favor of Matt Flynn, the Packers still wanted Tolzien to be a part of their future.
So it's good news that Tolzien is making progress this offseason. The Packers coaches have been improving his footwork and head coach Mike McCarthy is praising his work ethic, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
What's ultimately turning heads from Tolzien is the fact that his strengths, such as arm strength and athleticism, are starting to shine through. While Flynn is still considered the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, Tolzien has a real chance at taking his job once training camp begins.
Chris Harper, Wide Receiver
One of the deepest positions for Green Bay this year is the receiving corps. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams, it'll be difficult for another receiver to rise up the depth chart.
However, Chris Harper might just be ready to do that after being so impressive throughout OTAs. At 6'1" and 228 pounds, Harper has good size to go along with his explosiveness.
Harper made big play after big play during 7-on-7 passing drills the past few weeks, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. His ability as a route-runner is improving and starting to catch up with his natural abilities.
With Adams missing the first week of OTAs due to being at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere, Harper took full advantage of the extra time with the quarterbacks. Don't be surprised if he gets the chance to play a role in the Packers offense this season.
Don Barclay, Offensive Tackle
It's quite likely that Dan Barclay will be replaced in the starting lineup now that Bryan Bulaga is healthy from his torn ACL suffered last year. However, should another starting offensive lineman go down, Barclay will be the one to take his place, no matter what the position.
It's that versatility from Barclay that has turned heads in Green Bay this offseason. He's played with the first-team offense at left guard and took snaps at center, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
The Packers already know that he can play tackle, so now they have a backup lineman who could literally fill in anywhere. There simply aren't that many players in the league capable of doing that.
With Barclay leading the way on the bench, the Packers can finally feel confident with their depth along the offensive line.
Julius Peppers, Outside Linebacker
If you were to ask fans of the Chicago Bears what they thought of Julius Peppers, the first words you'd probably hear would be "washed up."
However, the Packers are finding out that's far from true as they get a first look at him in OTAs. Peppers has been nothing short of impressive, even in such a non-intense practice situation.
In fact, fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk was so impressed by him that he said this, via Darin Gantt at Pro Football Talk:
He’s 34 and runs like he’s 18. If ever there was a genetic freak put on this planet, it is Julius. He’s just a specimen. I have a ton of respect for how he works, too. What a great teammate just from Day 1. He’s a quiet guy that already knows what he is doing, so it is fun to be around a guy like him.
If Peppers really is the "genetic freak" that Hawk calls him, the Packers could really have something special brewing on the defensive side of the ball. Combining Peppers and Clay Matthews to rush the quarterback would be a terrifying thought for any offensive coordinator.
Casey Hayward, Cornerback
After having an extremely impressive rookie campaign, Casey Hayward was sidelined for the majority of last season with a hamstring injury. He tried to come back a few times, but it was clear he was never at full strength.
With a few months to rest and heal, Hayward is ready to get back to being an impact player for the Packers defense. In fact, Hayward is already turning heads and earning the praise of cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, per Jason Wilde of ESPN.com.
Adding a healthy Hayward to Tramon Williams and Sam Shields will give the Packers a potent group of cornerbacks to work with this upcoming year. If Hayward can create turnovers like he did as a rookie, there's no reason for the Packers defense not to improve greatly in 2014.
Micah Hyde, Safety
The talks of Micah Hyde getting more playing time were pretty consistent leading up to the 2014 NFL draft. However, once the Packers selected safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, everyone seemed to forget about Hyde.
Well, everyone except the Packers coaches. They've given Hyde every opportunity to be a four-down starter at safety, according to Wes Hodkiewicz at the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
He's been starting with the first-team defense at OTAs and has played well while lining up next to safety Morgan Burnett. While free safety isn't Hyde's natural position by any means, he's still making the most of his starting status during practices.
Now, it's certainly possible that Hyde will take a backseat to Clinton-Dix when training camp begins. However, Hyde's impressive play so far this offseason should earn him some serious playing time once the 2014 regular season begins.