Green Bay Packers Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports
After nine training camp practices, including seven in full pads and one scrimmage, it's time to evaluate the progress of the nine Packer rookies, as well as two notable undrafted free agents.
Which players are getting reps with the first-team offense? Who's off to a slow start and struggling? Take a look as we answer these questions and discuss up-to-date injury information heading into the first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 9.
The following eleven players are ranked in ascending order according to the impact each has had at his position so far in training camp.
TE Colt Lyerla
Undrafted free-agent tight end Colt Lyerla had a training camp punctuated by more ups than downs, but any progress he was making came to a halt at Green Bay's Family Night scrimmage, when he suffered an undisclosed knee injury, as ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky first reported.
But Lyerla's biggest blow was this recent knee injury. Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette relayed Tuesday that, per head coach Mike McCarthy, Lyerla will be out for "weeks." At this time it is unclear if he will see any action in Green Bay's four upcoming preseason games.
Lyerla's rocky camp hurt his chances of making the roster. In a large pool of tight ends that includes Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, the recently re-signed Andrew Quarless and third-round rookie Richard Rodgers, who has been standing out thus far in camp, Lyerla's chances of making the final 53 were long enough, but this injury is an even bigger setback.
CB Demetri Goodson
Demetri Goodson hasn't had the most encouraging camp so far.
From dropping an interception on Aug. 1, giving up three touchdowns and getting flagged for pass interference three days later and getting called for holding Randall Cobb on Aug. 5, the sixth-round rookie doesn't have many moments to point to over the last two weeks to justify landing a job in Green Bay.
He currently sits behind Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush and Davon House. Even Jumal Rolle is receiving snaps ahead of Goodson, per Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. So unless he starts making plays, Goodson won't have a shot to make anything more than the practice squad for the Packers.
ILB Joe Thomas
Another undrafted free agent to keep an eye on is inside linebacker Joe Thomas. Because general manager Ted Thompson failed to address the inside linebacker position in the draft, it will be interesting to see if the Packers have room on the 53-man roster for the South Carolina State product.
In his latest roster projection for the Packers, ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky sees a scenario in which Thomas makes the roster, noting that he has seen his reps at inside linebacker increase in early August.
In 2013, Thomas had 115 total tackles for the Bulldogs and 7.5 sacks, a leading-run stuffer in a top run defense.
On July 31, Mike McCarthy noted that Thomas had "really jumped out" in practice, per Fox Sports Wisconsin's Paul Imig.
WR Jeff Janis
Per Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers are "easing him in," so there's not a lot of progress or production to report for Janis at this time.
However, unfortunate though it was, Jared Abbrederis' ACL injury opened the door a little wider for Janis to have an impressive preseason and earn the receiver a job if the Packers carry six receivers into the regular season.
If Green Bay only keeps five receivers on the roster, assuming the first four are Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and rookie Davante Adams, Janis will have to beat out 2013 holdovers Chris Harper, Myles White and Kevin Dorsey as well as Alex Gillett and former Baltimore Ravens receiver Gerrard Sheppard.
WR Jared Abbrederis
Jared Abbrederis was showing off the crisp route-running and soft hands that got him drafted throughout training camp, including the standout play on July 27 when, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, he evaded Tramon Williams and connected on a deep throw from Matt Flynn.
But the fears when he sat out practice on Aug. 1 with a then-undisclosed knee injury were confirmed when Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the rookie receiver had torn his ACL.
Though the Packers are deep at the wide receiver position, Abbrederis was improving every practice during camp, playing "bigger and stronger than advertised," per McGinn. Given his return capabilities, he had a strong shot at making the roster over other possible contenders like 2013 holdovers Chris Harper, Myles White and Kevin Dorsey.
Green Bay will "almost certainly" place Abbrederis on injured reserve, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he'll be permitted to attend meetings with the receivers but can't participate in on-field activities with the team until next season.
DT Khyri Thornton
When the Packers took defensive tackle Khyri Thornton in the third round of the 2014 draft, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac pointed to Thornton's "competitiveness" and "explosion" as reasons why.
Though Thornton hasn't made big headlines so far in camp, he's demonstrated that burst off the ball and that motor that got him drafted, and that's always a good sign. Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel provided updates from Thornton's positive showing in practice Tuesday, which found Thornton "blowing up a run play on half line drill" and then beating Lane Taylor in a one-on-one pass rush.
Looking to the future, Raji, the starter at nose tackle, is entering a one-year deal. So Thornton's potential at the position could be a reason he earns a spot on this roster.
LB Carl Bradford
Though Green Bay may have drafted Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford in the fourth round to compete at the middle linebacker position, the Packers have started out rushing him off the edge.
"He's been an edge guy most of his career," Packers director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst said, per Packers.com's Mike Spofford. "He's a pass-rusher. That's what he does best."
The outside linebackers group is a crowded one, but Bradford is making an impact. He forced DuJuan Harris to fumble five yards behind the line of scrimmage at a recent practice, per Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the paper's Tom Silverstein commented earlier in camp on Bradford's great leverage when he pushed Andrew Quarless three yards into the backfield earlier in camp.
Bleacher Report's NFL Analyst Chris Simms noted that Bradford's ceiling could be that of becoming the Packers' version of Dwight Freeney.
Preseason action will provide a meaningful opportunity to judge Bradford's skills in a live-game setting, but despite the depth on the outside, there's always a place on this team for sack-producing pass-rushers.
C Corey Linsley
So far this camp, coach Mike McCarthy has been impressed with Linsley, singling out his performance in one-on-one drills, per Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In the first depth chart the Packers released this season, JC Tretter is listed as the starting center, with Linsley backing him up. But that competition is far from decided.
In the first two full-pads practices, Tretter struggled. ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky noted he got "manhandled" by B.J. Raji twice in practice. Demovsky also revealed that at the end of July, McCarthy said Tretter "needs every rep."
But Tretter has been earning more praise recently, including from Aaron Rodgers, who said, "JC's doing a really nice job. Understands the offense and is a fast learner. He's holding his own, and that's important."
Linsley was always going to have to take away the job from Tretter, who has more experience in the system. But if Linsley proves to be versatile enough to replace the recently injured Don Barclay, he will have a place on the 53-man roster.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The Packers made an investment in the future of their secondary when the drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, but they didn't feel the need to rush that future by starting him with the first-team defense right away.
Until the end of July, the first unit consisted of incumbent Morgan Burnett and cornerback-turned-safety Micah Hyde, as Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out.
The Packers have been especially pleased with Clinton-Dix's play against the run, according to Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, which is interesting since he was drafted to be the rangy ball hawk Green Bay needed in its defensive backfield.
Safeties coach Darren Perry thinks that the preseason games will be the best indication of Clinton-Dix's true progress and potential. "Practice is one thing," Perry said, per Dunne. It gives you a chance but then you've got to be able to perform when it counts. So these four preseason games will be imperative."
WR Davante Adams
Second-round rookie Davante Adams got to work building a rapport with Matt Flynn early in training camp, which has led to more snaps with Aaron Rodgers, per Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mike McCarthy has been impressed with Adams' performance in camp. The team Twitter account shared his comments on Aug. 1: "Davante (Adams) had a good day today. He has the ability to be explosive. I really like him."
If Adams has a productive preseason and thereby lands significant playing time during the regular season, he could be the latest example of Ted Thompson's skill at finding receivers in the second round, a group that includes Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and former receiver Greg Jennings, of whom Adams reminds the Packers, according to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky.
Though Nelson, Cobb and Jarrett Boykin, returning from a breakout 2013 season, are expected to top the depth chart, Demovsky reports that Adams is making a strong push for the No. 3 receiver spot.
TE Richard Rodgers
Rodgers continues to shine this summer, and he's been inching closer toward earning the starting job. He took the first snap with the first-team offense on July 26, per Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press Gazette.
On July 28, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that, "when the ball is in his vicinity TE Richard Rodgers catches it" with "hands like vices."
Heading into the preseason, it appears Rodgers has edged out Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick for the starting job. FoxSports.com's Ross Jones tweeted a Packers source who told him, "it's Rodgers' job to lose. Smart, bright and knows the game. Best hands on the team."
However, in the first depth chart the Packers have released this year, Rodgers isn't even listed as the third-stringer. While early depth charts are unofficial, clearly the competition for the No. 1 spot has not yet been decided.
Rodgers has easily had the best camp of any Packers rookie this offseason.