One: The Big Deal
That Sam Shields has been on the sideline when the Packers run their nickel defense is nothing new. Jarrett Bush has been the third corner since the first day of offseason workouts. That Shields was on the sideline when the Packers' run their four-cornerback dime package, however, is a pretty big deal.
To be sure, nothing is set in stone. About this time in 2010, when Shields was an undrafted rookie, he was the last man on the depth chart. About five weeks later, when the Packers kicked off the season at Philadelphia, Shields was on the field for all 66 defensive snaps.
That Davon House was on the field with the No. 1 defense for a practice-closing two-minute drill might not mean a thing. The coaches routinely roll in one combination after another to give every player a fair shake. That, of course, is how Shields made his improbable rise up the depth chart two summers ago.
Hindsight being 20/20, 32 general managers dropped the ball on Shields in 2010. At 5-foot-11, he's got desirable size. He's got elite speed. He played only one year of cornerback at Miami, meaning he was a lump of rock just waiting for the proper polishing from a coach.
Taking that one step further, if personnel people knew before the 2010 draft what they learned from the 2010 season, Shields almost certainly would have been a first-round pick. For instance, it's hard to imagine any general manager taking Alabama's Kareem Jackson (No. 20 to Houston) over Shields — and that's no knock of Jackson, who's been solid.
However, Shields regressed last season — though, it should be noted, his ratio of completions allowed per passing attempt was better than fellow cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Does he have the stomach to tackle? And can he walk that fine line of being a playmaker while not gambling?
Whether Shields is No. 3, 4 or 5 right now is irrelevant. Overreaction runs rampant this time of year. Four practices are in the books and there are three more to go before Family Night, with four preseason games to follow. Jobs aren't won or lost before the calendar turns to August.
"These guys need to play in games," coach Mike McCarthy said of the cornerbacks. "That's where the playing time will come."
Two: Rookie of the Day
For a seventh-round pick, there was a lot of intrigue surrounding Andrew Datko. After all, incumbent starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse wasn't great last year and the man the team drafted to be the starter at that position, Derek Sherrod, hasn't recovered from a broken leg.
At this point, however, Datko is nowhere close to being ready for prime time. In fairness, he missed most of last season with an injured shoulder so it's been about 10 months since he's played real football. During Monday's one-on-one pass-rushing drills, he went 1-2, with the losses coming to Erik Walden, who isn't exactly the team's best pass rusher.
Three: Position of the Day
Each day, we take a look at the competition at one position.
Wide receivers: This position group hasn't disappointed, and Greg Jennings (elbow) missing the last couple of days has actually been a blessing.
Randall Cobb, after catching 25 passes as a rookie, figures to be a major part of the offense with his ability to turn a short pass into big yards. What's interesting is they've been using Diondre Borel in many of the same ways. If the Packers keep six receivers, Borel appears to have an edge over Tori Gurley, but as we've mentioned a few times now, it's early.
Could the Packers keep seven receivers, even with their limited value on special teams?
"With a final roster, which is never final, as you guys know, you never can tell," general manager Ted Thompson said. "Coach McCarthy and his staff, they're very flexible. They're very cognizant of the importance of trying to keep the best players, and that's what we've tried to do in the past, and sometimes it looks unusual. You never know."
Thompson, on concussions: "We're all very concerned about keeping our players healthy. I'd like to wrap them all up in bubble wrap. The more educated we've become, I think we have a better chance of getting our arms wrapped around it. ... When I was in high school, they wouldn't give you water during two-a-day practices — we actually went two-a-days. There would be a five-minute break and they'd bring you a salt tablet with no water to drink or anything like that. You guys probably all went through that. So, with education, I think everybody starts figuring it out, and we're hopeful that's the way it's going to be."
Thompson, on the decision to retain Donald Driver even with the young talent at receiver: "Donald's an unusual athlete. Remarkable in some ways. The age doesn't necessarily tell the whole story."
Anthony Hargrove, on Aaron Rodgers and the offense: "You know what? I've never seen a quarterback make some of the throws that A-Rod does. And I played with Drew Brees for two years. When you see A-Rod put those balls on the back shoulder, you're like, ‘Really, what can you do as a defensive player?' You watch some of the 30-yard bullets that he throws, and you're just like, ‘Dude, how are you doing that?' it's just amazing to watch the offense, as prolific and as special as they are. The guys up front, everybody knows where they're going, even Jeff Saturday coming in and fitting in as a new guy in there. Hats off to Coach McCarthy and what he's done with that offense. And A-Rod, you really can't say enough. That's why he's the best."
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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.