Green Bay Packers: First Impressions from Training Camp
It's finally begun.
The Green Bay Packers took the field for the first time on Saturday for the start of training camp. It usually takes a few practices for things to really get going, but there were still plenty of first impressions to take away.
The biggest winner from practice this weekend was cornerback Casey Hayward, while undrafted free-agent tight end Colt Lyerla was the biggest loser. There's still plenty of time for things to change, but first impressions usually stick around the longest.
Let's take a more in-depth look at Hayward and Lyerla's day and the rest of the players who made a good or bad first impression during training camp.
Jared Abbrederis Proves to Be Fan Favorite
The Packers haven't had too many players come through from their state university, the University of Wisconsin. That changed when wide receiver Jared Abbrederis earned a selection in the fifth round from the pro team in Green Bay.
The drafting of Abbrederis appears to be a favorite of the fans. He earned the biggest cheers on Sunday morning after a deep reception, according to Vic Ketchman of Packers.com.
Abbrederis certainly faces an uphill battle making the roster, as the receiving corps is easily the deepest position on the roster. He may need to prove he's a valuable asset on special teams as a kick returner to solidify his spot on the team.
However, if he can continue to make big catches like he did during the first practices, he should find himself on the final 53-man roster once the regular season begins.
Time to Simmer Down on Colt Lyerla
For an undrafted free agent to make the final roster for a team, he has to have a huge amount of upside and also perform incredibly well during training camp. While Lyerla has the first requirement, he got off on the wrong foot fulfilling the second one.
No one struggled as much as Lyerla did over the weekend. His biggest issues were dropped passes, according to Paul Imig of Fox Sports Wisconsin. Lyerla missed one routine catch from quarterback Matt Flynn and slipped while attempting to make a difficult catch on a poor pass from Flynn.
There's definitely a place in the Packers offense for a player like Lyerla. Unfortunately, he didn't seize the opportunity to make an impact during his first practices.
Now Lyerla is going to need to be nearly flawless to find himself a member of the Packers at the end of camp.
No Lineman More Versatile Than Don Barclay
Even though Don Barclay isn't likely to start this upcoming season, he may be the most valuable offensive lineman on the roster. The reason is his versatility.
Barclay, who played mostly right tackle the past two years, filled in for guard T.J. Lang with the No. 1 offense this weekend, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. While Lang isn't expected to be out for too long, it's still impressive to see Barclay transition so seamlessly from one position to the next.
His play even prompted head coach Mike McCarthy to say he could play "any position." With the Packers always suffering injuries to their offensive line, having a versatile player like Barclay is absolutely huge.
Don't be surprised if Barclay finds the field this year at a number of positions across the offensive line.
Good News for Clay Matthews
There's no doubt that outside linebacker Clay Matthews is one of the best players in Green Bay. Unfortunately, he's had trouble staying healthy over the course of his career.
Last year, it was a broken thumb that kept him out of a number of games. That same thumb was taking time to heal and could have potentially kept him out of the start of training camp.
Well, the good news is that Matthews was a full participant this weekend, according to Vic Ketchman of Packers.com. Even better is the fact that Matthews was only wearing a minimal wrap to protect his surgically repaired thumb.
One of the keys to the Packers defense improving from last year is Matthews staying healthy. So, seeing him as a full participant from the beginning of camp is absolutely huge.
Casey Hayward Is MVP of Day 1
After missing nearly all of last year with a hamstring injury, no one really knew what to expect from cornerback Casey Hayward this year. Well, if training camp is any indication, we can all expect a monstrous year from Hayward.
He was easily the standout player from the first practices this weekend, according to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Hayward was back playing in the slot and knocked away multiple passes during practice.
Having a player like Hayward back and healthy will be great for the Packers defense. His ability to attack the football and create interceptions is something that was sorely missed last year.
With Hayward already looking back to his normal self, the whole defense should be excited for what's to come this year.
A Legitimate Battle Happening at Safety
When Micah Hyde took first-team snaps with the defense during OTAs, no one really thought much of it. Everyone thought that first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would take over for Hyde once training camp started.
Well, the Packers are through the first weekend of camp and Hyde is still playing with the first-team defense, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. Clinton-Dix did see time on the field, but it was almost all with the No. 2 defense.
What this ultimately means is still unknown, but it's pretty clear that Clinton-Dix has a legitimate battle on his hands to win the starting job. Nothing is going to be handed to him, which should help him in the long run.
While it'd be a little disappointing to see Clinton-Dix start the year on the bench, it wouldn't be overly surprising at this point.
Injury Update from the Opening of Camp
There were six Packers missing from the first few practices of training camp this past weekend, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Five were on reserve lists and only one was dressed but not practicing.
Those players were guard T.J. Lang (he was dressed), wide receiver Jeff Janis, defensive end Jerel Worthy, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, outside linebacker Mike Neal and outside linebacker Nick Perry. Of those six, the two players who should be concerned the most are Worthy and Perry.
Both players have seen their careers defined by injuries and a lack of production. With the Packers now having depth and talent along the defensive line and at outside linebacker, neither Perry nor Worthy can afford to miss much time in training camp.
The rest of the injuries are worrisome, but not quite as much as Perry and Worthy. It'll be important to keep an eye on these six players throughout training camp. The sooner they can return, the better chance they'll have of securing their roster spot.