After over a week of live practice, and a Family Night scrimmage cut short by rain, the effects of the lockout were fairly obvious in the early stages of preparing for the season. The Packers have since come down from the Super Bowl high after a long hiatus, but hope to pick up right where they left off.
The Packers as a whole have a lot of bumps to smooth out. However, there were a few individuals who really raised some eyebrows during the early stages of training camp. Many of these players were locked in position battles, and can be looked at as early front-runners.
I was only able to see Davon House practice twice, but that was all it took to make a good first impression on me.
House was a second round talent, taken at the end of the fourth round by the Packers. House could ultimately be the player that replaces Charles Woodson when his tenure is done. With the exception of an injury suffered last Friday, House has yet to disappoint.
House was able to shut down Greg Jennings during practice, held up in one on one drills, and had a nice pick off Aaron Rodgers. He is both quick and physical, and has pretty good size. Davon House could be one of those mid-round picks that goes under the radar and turns out to be an above average NFL player.
James Starks was reported to have put on 10 pounds of muscle on during the offseason. Starks looks a lot stronger, and plays more explosive than last year. He looks more like a downhill runner with the power to run over defenders, but retains the speed to break outside.
The Packers offense hasn't faced live tackling yet, but Starks has made it clear that he has stepped up his game in the stand-up drills, delivering a pop here and there or breaking a long run.
Though Starks is no Adrian Peterson, his style of play is looking quite similar, and Packer fans can only hope that the results will be similar too. If James Starks keeps it up when facing live tackling, he is sure to impress the coaches and maybe win the lone starting position over Ryan Grant.
The Packers linebacking corps saw a lot of guys go down to injury, but week after week, a replacement stepped in and performed well. It was really a theme that defined the 2010 Green Bay Packers.
One of the players that really stepped up was Erik Walden. Walden had a tremendous game in the season finale that put the Packers in the Playoffs. Though he sat out in the Super Bowl due to injury, Erik Walden is back and is really turning some heads.
For those of you who don't know, there is a three-man race for the OLB spot opposite of Clay Matthews. The race consists of Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, and Erik Walden. Erik Walden has bolted from the starting line, and has been the most impressive player by far.
Walden has used his strength and power to impress both fans and coaches, and has really embarrassed the offensive lineman on numerous occasions. Though Walden did play with the second team defense during the scrimmage, I can only imagine he will be the starter if he keeps his level of play up.
The Packers second round draft choice was an explosive wideout and return man from Kentucky named Randall Cobb. So far, Cobb is yet to disappoint.
Cobb has used his speed and explosiveness to really impress a lot of people. He has run clean routes, made good catches, and flat out beat a chunk of the Packers secondary.
The most impressive thing I saw was when Cobb used his speed to beat Sam Shields on a deep fly route. Shields was regarded as one of the fastest players on the team, and Cobb had little trouble beating him one on one.
Yes, I understand that Tim Masthay is a punter, but anyone who watched the NFC Championship game last year knows how valuable a good punter can be.
It isn't easy to get excited about a punter, especially when there are a million different things going on during the years first few practices. However, I was forced to watch Masthay work individually while a scrimmage was taking place on the other end of the field.
One after one Masthay delivered beautiful punts, each landing near the goal line. A few punts even reached distances of almost 80 yards. In a game where field position is so important, having a guy like Tim Masthay can only help you.