31

July

3 Players Raising Eyebrows at Packers Training Camp

Packers Tight End DJ Williams

Packers Tight End DJ Williams

The Packers have been practicing since Thursday of last week, and while it’s far too early to start shaping the final roster, a handful of players have people raising their eyebrows.

Can these three guys keep it going? Or will they wash out like so many other players who were superstars in late July, but duds in September?

D.J. Williams, TE

Instead of just lifting weights and doing cardio, Clay Matthews stepped outside of the box to get bigger and better after his rookie season. Matthews took up mixed martial arts training and went on to have a breakout second season. Apparently, Williams stepped outside the box this offseason, too…and into the cow pasture. The second-year TE says he’s gotten stronger thanks to an offseason cow-wrestling regimen back in his home state of Arkansas. Williams seems serious about it too, describing his technique in detail and talking about how he just tries to “not get hurt or die” when showing these cows who is the superior grappler. Well, Williams has always been known more as a receiver than a blocker. If suplexing ‘Ol Bessie rounds out his game a little, cool. Just keep him away from Aaron Rodgers. I don’t want No. 12 getting any goofy ideas about how he should spend his next offseason.

Casey Hayward, CB
Hayward has played so well, Bob McGinn already dedicated an entire column to the second-round pick from Vanderbilt. It sounds like Hayward uses his brains as much as his brawn, deciphering routes and showing no hesitation to swoop in and make plays. The Packers have a logjam at corner behind Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson (who might be spending a lot of his time at safety). If Hayward can rise above the rest, it can only mean good things for a Packers defense coming off a historically awful season.

Dezman Moses, LB
The hype started for Moses back at OTAs and by all accounts, he’s played well in camp. Before you get too excited, though, the Packers have had at least one LB catch fire in the offseason ever since they switched to a 3-4. None of these training camp phenoms have ever amounted to much besides role players once actual games start, but hey, it’s better to have unknown guys playing well in camp instead of unknown guys playing like, well, unknown guys. If Moses keeps it going and sticks with the team, he should get plenty of chances to make an impact on special teams. Anything else would be a nice bonus.

Final thoughts
Of the three, Hayward has the best shot at making an impact, both immediately and down the road. Yeah, that’s probably obvious since the Packers traded up to get Hayward in the second round, but it also makes the most sense from a numbers perspective.

The Packers (and pretty much every other team in the NFL) need as many talented players in the secondary as possible. With Woodson seeing time at safety and Sam Shields fading a bit, the opportunity is there for someone to grab significant playing time at corner.

Led by Jermichael Finley, the Packers have plenty of talent at TE. Tom Crabtree also fills the blocking role and Ryan Taylor appeared to be making progress last season. If Williams doesn’t get many chances at TE, perhaps we’ll see him line up as a fullback or H-back.

Outside linebacker is sort of funny right now. Should Packers fans be worried that Nick Perry isn’t on the above list? Or are our expectations higher for Perry because he’s a first-round pick and many of us know the raw talent he has? Probably the latter. It’s tougher to raise eyebrows when you’re expected to be good. And Perry is expected to be good.

In addition to Perry and the various warm bodies the Packers put opposite of Clay Matthews last season, Moses also has to overtake Vic So’oto, last season’s leader in training camp eyebrow raising.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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11 Responses to “3 Players Raising Eyebrows at Packers Training Camp”

  1. Dan says:

    Sounds like Daniels may be on this list soon. Hopefully, Perry and Worthy will start making some noise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • Adam Czech says:

      I’m not overly worried about Worthy. We probably won’t hear too much about him because 3-4 linemen tend to always fly under the radar.

      It’d be nice to start hearing a few good things about Perry, though. At least somthing about how he looks fast or seems to be adapting well to standing up.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    As long as I don’t hear reports of Perry missing tackles, missing the wrong cuts to the ball handler or getting burned by TE’s I wouldn’t be worried to much about not hearing anything about Perry.

    He’s a first round pick, so the bar has been set high enough as it is. Not to mention he is going from DE to OLB and he will have to adjust to Linebacker-size RB’s and Strong Safety bodied WR’s.

    It’s the NFL, where you have to assume that any elite 300lb man can run a 40 under 5.0 seconds.

    If he is good as promised, he should have a strong second half. I would like it if he was strong from the gate, but I just go with my gut thinking he will need around 5-7 weeks of playing time to understand exactly what is going to happen for the rest of his career.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • tlvincent4 says:

      exactly, we want Perry humming really good for the last part of the season! I can live with some struggles early on as he figures out a totally new position, he looks strong as a bull and should at least be very sturdy against the run early on.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

        Well it’s not really Pessimism, but you have to simply take into account of what he will need to learn. The Linebacker position is not really that glamorous and to be honest it’s in a sense a Blue Collar job.

        When they smash into a RB, they are are at the tipping point of the momentum. RB’s aren’t peaking in the play until they have gone past the line.

        I deeply figure that Perry is not really going to struggle, but simply contribute. Once though how fast the game goes, he will adjust.

        Now this doesn’t mean he has a excuse to slack off but I was the coach I would say to him to simply do the job your suppose to do and don’t worry about missing a tackle or taking a bad cut. It will happen a ton but just don’t forget your assignment.

        I am sure he will do fine in Man to Man and the Blitzs, but it’s the Zone Coverage I would tell him to look out for. If he feels like he is not comfortable with the play, back up a few yards, but just make sure when the ball hit’s the receiver make sure it’s in front of you and not over your head.

        Especially in the first few weeks he will struggle because it will be a new NFL year, and a new opposing team that they face. This goes for the rest of the 30 teams as they try to find what formulas work, and for a rookie like Perry who is still discovering his own Defensive scheme it’s going to be more often luck that he is able to make a great play in the first half of the season and by the second half Perry will have the film and basic base defensive knowledge.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Mojo says:

    I heard Driver had a great day today at camp. Who is this kid? I think the Pack need to sign him to a multiyear extension.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  4. Spiderpack says:

    DJ is pulling the whole country’s collective leg, and loving every minute of it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  5. Big T says:

    Perry is very well known for taking some plays off or not going 100%. He is good when he wants to be. It is up to the coaches to figure out how to handle this problem. Maybe Matthews should show him a few MMA moves to wake him up….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. Oppy says:

    DJ Willams was having at laugh at the Media’s expense last season too- his humor is so dry, and he plays it straight so well, the media guys don’t even catch half his jokes. He’s a prankster with a silly sense of humor.

    Nick Perry has been impressive in pass rush drills and seems to have a pretty impressive grasp of his assignments (for a rookie undergoing a position switch) according a more than a few camp observers.

    Mike Daniels has been looking great, too- but he just left practice today with a knee injury of some sort. Worthy has looked okay as well. I’ve stated before I think Daniels will be the more impactful player. That said, Rookie D-linemen RARELY make an impact. 2nd and 3rd years are where DL usaully start to show their stuff.

    Hayward probably has more talent, but House is more likely to have an impact in 2012 because he’s been in the defense for a year now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0