The Green Bay Packers continued spring OTA’s on Tuesday and saw a few players return to action while a few others remained out. Here are some notes from the day:
– Our own Adam Czech observed that nose tackle B.J. Raji was back with the team and wondered if he’ll be more of the 2010 version that was disruptive or the version of the last few years that has been moved around and less effective. I don’t know about you, but for some reason I feel more excited about what Raji brings this year than not. It’s another contract year, his third in a row, and the vibe seems to be that he’s working hard and looking to prove that he’s back. It will be good to have another reliable big body in the middle that knows the defense well.
– Linebacker Clay Matthews did spend some time at inside linebacker again, but spent the majority of the day on the outside, his natural position. Regardless of how much time Matthews spends at either spot, he’s going to see time at both this season. The move inside last year proved too effective for the Packers to ditch the idea completely. Rookie Jake Ryan took second-team reps on the inside and unless he has a monster training camp (asking a lot of a fourth-rounder), Matthews will be needed inside at times.
– Rookie first-round defensive back Damarious Randall participated in 11-on-11 drills today and was cleared from an ankle injury he had been dealing with. Randall spent the day at outside cornerback with the second team defense. Second-rounder Quinten Rollins spent most of the day at the slot cornerback position.
– On the offensive side of the ball, receiver Jeff Janis was unleashed, catching a short Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown pass in a two-minute drill with no time left on the clock. He’s surely a lock at the fourth or fifth receiver position this season and should push for a starting spot. OK, I can’t do it anymore. The touchdown catch part was true. The sentence following was my poking a little fun at the Janis admirers out there. Ever since last year, Janis is all the rage with his section of fans. While he has the physical tools, there’s a reason he was active for just three games last season. This is a new year, but the jury is very much still out on Janis. With the Packers having spent a third-round pick on Ty Montgomery and with the return of Jared Abbrederis, it’s far from certain that Janis is on the final roster this year.
– Brett Hundley has a long way to go. The quarterback was picked off on one of his first passes in team drills. Every quarterback throws them, even our beloved #12, but Hundley seems to be getting a good dose of life in the NFL in his first bits of action. Scott Tolzien is the backup quarterback until further notice.
– Notable absences from Tuesday’s practice were cornerback Casey Hayward, linebackers Nick Perry and Mike Neal, receivers Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery, fullback John Kuhn and defensive lineman Josh Boyd. Hayward reportedly won’t be ready to work with the team until training camp and this is giving many flashbacks to 2013, when he suffered a hamstring injury during the offseason that ultimately ended his season early. Hayward is slated to battle for a starting outside cornerback position this season so his recovery will be closely monitored. Nelson continues to recover from offseason hip surgery. Perry has seen his first three seasons riddled with injuries and dings and the Packers didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. Perry has this season to stay healthy, prove he can do so and also increase his productivity. On the other side of the coin, linebacker/defensive lineman Julius Peppers returned to practice after missing the last with an illness.
We’re just two practices into the spring and already there seems to be a buzz around this year’s Packers team. The offense has many returning pieces and may have a new weapon in Montgomery to add to the arsenal. More importantly, Montgomery may offer an edge in the return game that has been missing for many seasons. It’s a lot to ask of a rookie right away, but there is also a lot of room for improvement in that area.
The Packers have another spring session June 9th – 12th before mandatory mini camp begins on the 16th.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: