The Green Bay Packers resumed OTA’s and one of the big stories from today’s practice was defensive end Mike Neal, who lined up at outside linebacker during a portion of today’s activities. He was also with the OLB’s as well as the defensive ends during position drills. Neal spent some time at OLB last week as well.
It should be noted that there are some question marks at outside linebacker, especially in those who are proven at the position. Behind starter Clay Matthews is Nick Perry, Dezman Moses, Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba. Perry is expected to re-assume the other starting OLB spot when the season begins, although he still is not 100% back from a wrist injury that ended his rookie season after just six games. Moses filled in some last year after being signed as an undrafted free agent, but doesn’t appear likely to make a big jump. Palmer was the Packers’ sixth round selection in this year’s draft and, while the team seems very high on him, he has yet to play a down at the NFL level. Mulumba was an undrafted free agent that the Packers signed immediately following the draft and, like Palmer, has yet to play a down at the pro level. Green Bay lost OLB’s Erik Walden and Frank Zombo to free agency.
It’s too early to tell if the team has seen enough to think that Neal can move outside on a more regular basis, but he clearly did enough last week to get another look.
Other notes from the Twitter accounts of various media that were in attendance at today’s practice, including Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee:
- Jarrett Boykin appears to have the inside track on one of the wide receiver spots vacated by the departures of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Last season, Boykin impressed late during the pre season and was the team’s choice as their fifth wide receiver. He did leave today’s practice early after he appeared to sustain an leg injury. He hobbled off the field and was being tended to by the team trainers.
- Andrew Quarless continues his quest to return to the team after suffering a severe knee injury late during the 2011 season. Head Coach Mike McCarthy commented on Quarless after today’s practice, stating “clearly the best shape he’s been in. …He looks really good. Excellent job in strength and conditioning.” This is seemingly good news for the team as Quarless had been the team’s second option at tight end prior to his injury.
- In punt return drills, it was Randall Cobb, Jeremy Ross, Johnathan Franklin and Jordy Nelson taking reps today.
- Tramon Williams showed well today and he will need to continue to do so throughout this offseason. With Sam Shields expected to sign his restricted free agent tender, Williams will be battling standout rookie Casey Hayward as well as Davon House for the other outside cornerback position.
- Marshall Newhouse took reps with the first team offensive line at right tackle and appears to be the frontrunner for that position, at least for the time being
- Don Barclay was lined up at several positions along the offensive line. Barclay filled in last season at right tackle after the team lost Bryan Bulaga to injury. With the team having drafted offensive lineman David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter, Barclay’s future with the team came into question. With Tretter having suffered a bad ankle injury last week, Barclay’s versatility is likely too valuable for the team to let him go.
- Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly was not present at today’s practice. He continues to work through some of the logistics that stem from his past legal troubles in his hometown of Houston, Texas. Until then, Jolly will not be able to participate in team activities. McCarthy stated that he would not comment on Jolly until he is officially a part of the team again. It is not certain if Jolly is in Green Bay or when he might get on the field.
- Inactives for today’s practice: Derek Sherrod, J.C. Tretter, Desmond Bishop, Dezman Moses, DuJuan Harris, Davon House, Jerel Worthy, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly (absent), Kevin Dorsey, Charles Johnson. Because McCarthy does not typically address player health during OTA’s, it is unknown why some on this list did not participate today.
We will have more updates here as the week progresses.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: