Training camp is officially underway as all 32 teams believe this is their year to hoist the Lombardi trophy. The Green Bay Packers began their training camp on Sunday, starting their journey to win their fourth straight NFC North title. While the Packers did win the NFC North again, they also got bounced from the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers for the second year in a row. As the Packers look to improve, here are of my early impressions from the beginning of training camp.
In what might have been the most head scratching move of the Packers 2014 NFL draft, Richard Rodgers was selected in the third round. With no more Jermichael Finley, the Packers needed more depth at the tight end spot. After Andrew Quarless missed all of the off season OTAs, Rodgers was given the first team reps as training camp began. Those first team reps have continued since Quarless has returned to practice.
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers has been catching anything in his vicinity, and even beat Clay Matthews in coverage. While I know that Matthews is primarily a pass rushing linebacker, outrunning the former Pro Bowler is no easy feat. Maybe Ted Thompson knew something everyone else didn’t about Rodgers.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might have been drafted in the first round, be that doesn’t mean he has a guaranteed starting spot. Second year defensive back Micah Hyde has been getting reps at safety opposite Morgan Burnett, a spot that Hyde has been rumored to be moved to. Tyler Dunne, also of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported that Hyde deflected a ball from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson 50 to 60 yards down the field.
While Hyde is getting most of his reps at safety, he has also gotten some reps as the slot corner in the Packers dime package. With Hyde then at the corner spot, that allows Clinton-Dix to get some playing time at safety. Even though Clinton-Dix was thought to be selected as the new starting safety, it looks like defensive coordinator Dom Capers and head coach Mike McCarthy have big things planned for Hyde.
While Rodgers and Hyde have impressed, undrafted free agent tight end Colt Lyerla has not. Lyerla has had issues catching the football, even failing to catch a few routine balls from Matt Flynn. Being an undrafted free agent, Lyerla will need to step up his play not only if he wants playing time, but if he wants to make the team.
Football is finally back. The preseason is just around the corner, where even more impressions will be made.