5 Takeaways from Packers OTAs so far

The Green Bay Packers have completed three days of OTAs so far. Based on what we’ve learned during these three days, we can make the following conclusions about the 2015 version of the Packers:

Absolutely nothing.

That’s right, nothing. Zip. Zero. Nadda. Anyone who tries to make grand claims after OTAs is just desperate for attention.

But we can still learn a thing or two during OTAs. I like using OTAs to gauge how close players who suffered serious injuries the previous season are to returning. I also like reading between the lines about players who had offseason surgery or are nursing new injuries.

Keeping in mind the fact that we can’t draw any definite conclusions from OTAs, here are five takeaways so far:

Clay Matthews at inside linebacker wasn’t a one-year band-aid
Turns out moving Matthews inside wasn’t just a desperate half-season fix for the run defense. Look for Matthews to continue playing both inside and outside. It also sounds like Matthews has come around to doing more than just lining up outside. I used this description in my Surviving Sunday column, but I’ll use it again here: To me, Matthews is a bigger, whiter, longer-haired Charles Woodson type of player along the front seven. He talented and versatile to roam around and make plays from anywhere.

Casey Hayward doesn’t have the No. 2 cornerback spot locked up
Hawyard still might be the frontrunner on paper. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt also seemed to have Hayward as the frontrunner. But Hayward is injured again and sat out OTAs with a foot issue. He “hopes” to be ready by training camp. Coming from a guy who has already missed most of one season with an injury, hoping to be back by training camp doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

I really, reeeeeeeeeally, REEEEEEEEALLY am excited about the Packers returners
When was the last time the Packers had a true weapon as a kick and punt returner? Randall Cobb has had his moments, but he never caused the other team to poop its pants whenever he trotted downfield to return a kick. Micah Hyde’s been solid, but I don’t think other teams have to change their gameplan to stop him. We don’t know if Ty Montgomery or Damarious Randall will cause other players to soil themselves, either. But at least we have something to be excited about in the return game. No more putting a leftover defensive back, running back or wide receiver back there.

Mike McCarthy still has his beard.
And it’s awesome.

B.J. Raji is back.
The Packers didn’t sign a big nose tackle in free agency or draft one. They did get Raji back from injury. Now it’s time to find out if we’ll be getting the Raji or was an impact player during his second and third season, or a doormat like he was in his fourth year. Having Letroy Guion on board to form a rotation should help.

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Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .

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  • Jeff

    I like Hayward and think he could make a good corner on the island but I have no faith in his ability to stay healthy, none, zero, zilch, notta!!!

    I hope Rollins shows he can be the man even with only one year he has shown great skills as a corner so just think what these coaches can mold him into.

  • dobber

    “To me, Matthews is a bigger, whiter, longer-haired Charles Woodson type of player along the front seven. He talented and versatile to roam around and make plays from anywhere.”

    Matthews has two things that the ILB who came off the field when he moved inside didn’t have: athleticism and motor. He’s going to make mistakes, but he’s going to make them at 100 mph with his hair on fire. What’s more, moving him to ILB meant that a poorer than average player came off the field for an at least average player (Perry or Neal) on the outside. Either way, the level of talent on the field improved.

    • Jeff

      Perry is average but I think Neal is better than average and with another year under his belt watch for Elliot to step up this year on the outside, and if Hubbard can play up to his abilities he could be another OLB to watch!

      • Interesting. I think Perry is moderately better than Neal, and that Neal, while a good bet to make the team, will get some scrutiny since GB can save $3 million on the cap by releasing him. I’ve been a Neal backer. I read that he dropped down to 255 Lbs. I’d like to see him play at that weight this year to see what he can do. I like Elliott too.

        • Jeff

          I think they release Perry after this year unless he really makes a statement unlike his last 4 years that’s why they chose not to pick up his 5th year option. Neal had a good year and even the coach said he made progress on his run defense but now he needs to add a pass rush this year to make the leap.

          • Big T

            Nick “the fairy” Perry experiment is over. I don’t think he makes it the whole year. Either injury or someone else steps up. Perry… another D player bust.

            • Mike Sherman

              Not a bust….. At least yet. Dude is tough against the run and straight line fast. He isn’t a 5 tool player, not many are, but could be very good as a role player. Don’t forget, everyone gave up on Neal before they changed his position and he stayed healthy. Now he is a valuable rotation player. At the very least, perry could be the same.

          • Mike Sherman

            His 5th year option was for a lot of money. Lots of decent 1st round picks don’t get their options picked up because they are solid but not top players in the nfl at their positions. Perry will have a good year again as a role player and packers should be able to sign him to a modest 2 or 3 year deal. Peppers will be gone, Neal they can prob resign again for 2 mill a year, unless Elliot or mulamba or Hubbard supplant them. I don’t think any of them can, but if I had to pick it would be Elliot. Kid has skill

        • aaronqb

          If the Packers were going to release Neal they would have done it already. They’ve already paid him a $1 million bonus this year – if they were thinking of releasing him, they would have before the bonus was paid. Perry played with an injured shoulder last year. His teammates think he is a good player. I really like the depth at OLB.

          • I forgot about the bonus. Great point. I think it makes you right. He is a lock short of falling on his face or a couple of dazzling performances from someone else.

        • Mike Sherman

          Agree, perry is bigger faster and stronger than Neal. Both good players, but when healthy, perry can flash amazing ability….. I’ll never forget the hit he put on Luck his rookie year. Neal is almost a lock to make the team.

    • Tundraboy

      Yes good old addition by subtraction and the tangible benefit of removing an often targeted and thoroughly exposed glaring weakness from their minds.

  • I don’t think OTAs had anything to do with your excitement about the returners. Well, I suppose that it showed that Montgomery and Randall are still alive and upright.

  • Big T

    B.J. needs to belly up to the right buffets. Feed that blob some nasty gassy foods so he can get a spring in his step. Teach him to hold his gas in until on the field after the snap. He will gain at least a half second on everyone when his bowel erupts – like a rocket ship taking off. And the aroma will put the offense in a coma. Go B.J.

  • billy

    ah come on man, you mean we’re not going to the Super Bowl with a bunch of just drafted All-Pro’s like almost every team i read about is going to do?? Ha, fun time of year, all teams are great and all rook’s are going to be all-pro…its all good…

  • TedTomsin

    I don’t think the Packers ever had a kick returner that ever caused the other team to poop in it’s pants. However to their credit they once had a special special teams coach named Slocum that caused me to soil my shorts 18 times last year. The last game I had to replace the couch.
    Ted

    • Archie

      Before Desmond Howard there was Travis Williams.

      • TedTomsin

        Archie, it’s me.. Ted… I’m well aware of those two guys. I don’t believe either one of those caused players or coaches to poop in their pants at the mere site of them. There’s only three people that did. Two are players and one is a coach. I’m talking Devin Hester, Gayle Sayers and Shawn Slocum.
        Ted

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