Green Bay Packers: What We've Learned Through Week 2 of Training Camp
The Green Bay Packers are through the first two weeks of training camp in 2014, which included one preseason game Saturday.
Based on what I have seen thus far through the practices I've attended, plus the first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, I have five observations to share in this story.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Looks to Be the Real Deal
During the OTAs, the minicamp and the first part of training camp, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was a spectator when the first string went in on defense. The two safety starters were Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde.
But then Clinton-Dix got some time with the starters the first week of camp, as well as in the dime package the Packers employ.
During practices, Clinton-Dix looked pretty solid. No. 21 looked even better in the first preseason game vs. the Tennessee Titans. He played the entire first half of that game beside Hyde. Burnett has not been able to practice or play recently because of an oblique injury.
Clinton-Dix is taking full advantage of that. The former Alabama star looked good against the run and the pass against the Titans.
I don't know if Clinton-Dix will remain a starter once Burnett is able to come back, but he hasn't done anything to hurt his chances.
At the very least, Clinton-Dix looks to be part of the dime scheme that defensive coordinator Dom Capers utilizes.
The Backup Quarterback Position Is a Big Plus Compared to Last Training Camp
This time last summer, head coach Mike McCarthy was not happy with his backup quarterbacks. Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman were both so unimpressive that the Packers decided to bring Vince Young into camp as well.
When it was all said and done, none of those quarterbacks made the final roster.
Things are completely different this summer. Matt Flynn has looked very good in camp to help bolster the solid campaign he had during the regular season last year in the absence of Aaron Rodgers due to a fractured clavicle.
Scott Tolzien started out slow in camp, but has looked much better as of late, especially in the game against the Titans.
Flynn didn't look as good, but most of his playing time came during heavy rain.
As it sits right now, I think McCarthy will probably keep both quarterbacks on the roster at the end of training camp.
The Packers learned a hard lesson last year about how important it is to have solid backup quarterbacks in case of an injury to Rodgers. The Packers went 0-4-1 last season after the Rodgers' injury.
Fortunately, Flynn came to the rescue in the last third of the season to get the Packers in a position to still win the NFC North.
Tolzien knows the offense much better than he did last season as well and his play shows it.
The Offensive Line Looks to Be at Least 7-Deep
Even with the unfortunate season-ending knee injury suffered by offensive lineman Don Barclay last week, the Packers still look to have a solid offensive line depthwise.
From what I have seen, the starters have all looked good in camp. They would be left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Josh Sitton, center JC Tretter, right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
The big surprise is Tretter. No. 73 started out a bit slow in camp in the one-on-one drills, but has done a good job since. Tretter also put in a very solid effort vs. the Titans.
Bulaga looks stronger this year in camp and has looked very good. This after missing one-and-a-half seasons due to hip and knee injuries. No. 75 is looking as good as ever right now at right tackle.
Backup tackle Derek Sherrod also has looked good overall in camp. He also looks much stronger than he did in his rookie season in 2011. No. 78 suffered a horrific leg injury late in his rookie season and has appeared in only a few scant games since then.
But right now, he looks to be a very solid swing tackle behind Bakhtiari and Bulaga.
Rookie center Corey Linsley has also had a decent camp, plus he looked solid playing against the Titans.
James Starks Looks Like He'll Be a Nice Complement to Eddie Lacy Again
James Starks looks like he'll be a very nice complement to starting running back Eddie Lacy again this year.
In 2013, Starks rushed for 493 yards (5.5 average) and three touchdowns spelling Lacy. No. 44 also caught 10 passes for 89 yards and another score.
If training camp and the first preseason game are any indication, Starks looks to be just as good in 2014. Maybe even better.
Against the Titans on Saturday, Starks rushed six times for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Add that together with the very impressive training camp put together by Lacy, and the Packers look to have another nice one-two punch in the running game this upcoming season.
The Injury Bug Is Back
The Green Bay Packers and head coach Mike McCarthy are doing everything that they can do to prevent injuries.
That's what happens when a team has to put 15 players on injured reserve like the Packers did in 2013.
This year, some players are utilizing yoga to help prevent injuries, while McCarthy has changed his practice schedule to help promote the healing process between workouts.
The training staff is also providing health supplements to the players during practice.
Still, there have been some injuries. After all, we are talking about the game of football here.
Both rookie wide receiver/kick returner Jared Abbrederis and offensive lineman Don Barclay have had season-ending knee injuries.
Abbrederis was having a nice camp when his injury occurred, plus he looked to have a reasonable chance of being the primary punt returner.
Barclay also was being looked at as the first player off the bench for the offensive line at both guard positions and at right tackle.
There have been other injury issues as well, like the ankle and oblique injuries suffered by starting safety Morgan Burnett, but nothing else real significant up to this point.
Burnett has to hope he is back on the field soon, especially with the play thus far of both Micah Hyde and rookie Clinton-Dix at his position.