One: The Big Deal
During one of the 11-on-11 periods on Thursday, Charles Woodson was on the field for two plays. On the first, he lined up deep at safety with Morgan Burnett in the base defense. On the next, Woodson moved to his normal role as slot cornerback.
Those two plays showed exactly how the Packers plan on using Woodson, who will turn 36 on Oct. 7.
When the Packers released incumbent starting safety Charlie Peprah on Wednesday, it set off speculation that Woodson would be much more than a part-time safety. That's nonsense, though. As we've pointed out any number of times, why would the Packers move Woodson out of the slot, where he was the NFL's top cornerback last season in terms of quarterback rating and interceptions?
"We feel that he is a lot more valuable to us the closer he is to the ball because of the different positions he can play, the number of different things that we're able to do with him," coach Mike McCarthy said. "So, that's really part of the thinking of trying to get him closer to the ball and more involved because of his instincts. He plays the game a lot like a quarterback does from a defensive side."
Two: Rookie of the Day
Welcome to the NFL, B.J. Coleman. The quarterback taken in the seventh round has all the tools to not only make the roster this year but to become a starter down the road. As one scout told us after the draft, if the Packers' coaches show some patience, they'll be rewarded with a pair of first-round picks in a trade a few years from now.
The future, however, is not now. Coleman had a tough day. During a seven-on-seven drill, Coleman was intercepted by D.J. Smith, his slant hit an unsuspecting cornerback Casey Hayward in the shoulder, his quick hitch to Jermichael Finley bounced a foot short, and a slant to D.J. Williams was high and well behind the tight end, though he made a tremendous catch.
Not all was bad, though. He zinged a pass to Finley, who was running deep up the middle, and fit the ball between Smith and Burnett.
Three: Position of the Day
Each day, we take a look at the competition at one position.
Quarterback: During OTAs, McCarthy said Graham Harrell's arm was stronger but added that it wouldn't become evident until he got more comfortable using the mechanics in live situations.
We were skeptical ... but maybe not so much anymore. Harrell had an excellent day and further solidified his role as the No. 2 quarterback. While nobody will ever confuse Harrell with rocket-armed Aaron Rodgers, Harrell showed plenty of arm strength on a bomb to Donald Driver. Maybe more telling was a completion to tight end Eric Lair. Cornerback Sam Shields went for the interception on a route to the sideline but the ball got to Lair first for a completion. On the next play, he connected with tight end Brandon Bostick about 20 yards downfield between safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings.
"It's important that he demonstrates that he's the kind of guy we think he is and we're confident he is," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said this week. "We want him to make plays, run the team well, make good decisions both in the run game and the pass game, and when he has the chance to make the right play, he has to make it more often than not."
B.J. Raji, on the defensive line, in particular, and the defense, in general: "As a group, we have our responsibility to the defense. Not everything is designed for us to make plays. We understand that and that's taken into consideration, but when we get opportunities, we've got to make the most of them. I just think, personally, I was fortunate enough to make the Pro Bowl last year, but I'm not satisfied. I'd like to be an All-Pro this year. The only way I'm going to get that done is by working. We have the talent; we have the scheme. Obviously, the scheme works – we won a Super Bowl with it. Coach is doing a great job emphasizing certain things. I think it's our job to pick it up and run with it."
Jarrett Bush, on being ahead of Sam Shields on the depth chart: "It definitely gave me a lot more confidence, and I definitely hit the ground running. I've just got to take everything that I've learned over the years with the corners and the coaches that taught me. I'm starting to build that confidence and keep stacking that success, especially with the whole Super Bowl underneath my belt and the experience we have now. Just keep it rolling. We have huge, high expectations for this year. We have a standard that we set, and we're looking to set that standard and actually meet those standards this year. Everybody keeps talking about last year, but that's past and gone. This is a whole new year."
Shawn Slocum, on why the team didn't bring in a "camp leg" to keep Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay fresh: "We have conversations about whether or not to bring more guys in, and I would rather have a guy that could potentially make this ballclub – another cover guy, another linebacker, another running back. That's my feeling on that. I think those guys are always in competition because of the nature of the league. They have to be productive; if they're not, they get replaced. I feel very good about the work ethic of the guys that we've got; with that, I've got to watch their pitch counts because I can't wear them out. the way we set up our practices, we can do things without the guy actually kicking the ball, that's part of the management of the workload."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.