One: The Big Deal
The demise of Sam Shields has been greatly exaggerated.
Shields, the young cornerback who went from vital cog of a Super Bowl team in 2010 to tumbling down the Packers' depth chart during the first week of training camp in 2012, has gotten himself right back into the mix of the four-man derby to be the team's third and fourth cornerbacks.
"He slid down initially but he's steadily the last three days gone right back up," Whitt told Packer Report on Wednesday. "He's had three good practices in a row. He's being physical, he's covering. He had one real rough day, but other than that, I've been pleased with where he's going."
At this early stage of training camp, there's no urgency to get the secondary solidified. Jarrett Bush started training camp as the No. 3 cornerback with Shields the No. 4. Then, Davon House replaced Shields as the fourth cornerback. Then, for the past two days, House moved into the No. 3 with Bush the No. 4.
Shields lost his grip on the No. 3 job at the end of last season because of shoddy, nonchalant tackling. He lost the No. 4 role because of overaggressive coverage.
Whitt has seen improved play in both facets of the game. Asked about Shields being on the wrong side of that fine line between aggressive and reckless, Whitt said: "What we have to do as a group is we're going to get interceptions but we don't have to try to get them every play. Leverage the ball. It's fine to knock balls down. Interceptions come from poorly thrown balls. So, just leverage routes, knock balls down, and when we have our opportunity to get one, let's get it."
Two: Rookie of the Day
The Packers added two outside linebackers. One, Nick Perry, was drafted in the first round to be an immediate starter. The other, Dezman Moses, was an undrafted free agent added for competition and depth.
A week into camp, it's been Moses who's made more impact plays. It will be interesting to see how things shake out when Desmond Bishop and Frank Zombo are cleared and 100 percent. However, Moses has parlayed a strong offseason into a strong start to training camp. He's teamed with Erik Walden as the No. 2 tandem throughout camp. On Wednesday, Moses got some reps with the No. 1 defense in a special package that we're not allowed to detail.
"We're looking at different things," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "What we're trying to do is we're trying to give guys opportunities in different situations to show us what they can do. As you move along, things become more defined. There's a couple things that we're trying to look and see if he can do those. We'll look at him in a couple packages to see what his abilities are in terms of rushing and covering."
Added Moses: "Having a good offseason, a good OTAs and minicamp helped me to get in the position I'm in now. I'm still learning, it's still a day-by-day process, but I'm just trying to work on little things and get better and better each day."
As for Perry, he's had the misfortune of going against right tackle Bryan Bulaga on practically every snap. With only the slightest exaggeration, nobody has beaten Bulaga.
"He's a heck of a player," Bulaga said of Perry.
Three: Position of the Day
Each day, we take a look at the competition at one position.
Defensive line: Every year at training camp, one position group tends to get hit hard by injuries. This year, it's the defensive line, with starting end Ryan Pickett, fourth-round pick Mike Daniels and first-year player Johnny Jones casting one giant shadow on the sun-splashed grass at Ray Nitschke Field.
Last year, the Packers were one defenseless bunch. As a defense, Green Bay allowed a 26th-ranked 4.7 yards per carry. As a position group, the defensive line contributed just six sacks.
Ted Thompson addressed the issue by signing Anthony Hargrove, Daniel Muir and Philip Merling and drafting Jerel Worthy and Daniels. Hargrove, Worthy and Daniels were added, first and foremost, to rush the passer.
"They wanted pass rushers. They needed pass rushers," returning defensive end Jarius Wynn said.
A week into camp, the run defense has been excellent but the pass rush hasn't been a whole lot better. Position coach Mike Trgovac, however, cautioned that it's too soon to judge his unit's pass-rushing ability.
"We'll see when the games start," he said. "I don't want to judge right now. We've got a lot of things we're working on. We'll see who our best nickel guys are when these four games are over."
With the five new faces, the competition has been strong — and the final cuts in a month won't be the end of the competition. The battles will continue as players try to avoid being released when Mike Neal (four games) and Hargrove (eight games) return from suspensions.
"I haven't even thought of it that far ahead but that, of course, would be in my mind," Trgovac said.
Jermichael Finley, on whether anything less than the Super Bowl is a failure: "You've been around here for a long time, you know how this organization rolls. They expectations around here are real high. Of course, the conference, we want that. And we want the Super Bowl around here. That's what we're shooting for."
T.J. Lang, on the one-on-one run-blocking drill: "It simulates what we go through in a game. They know we're running the ball, we know we're running it. It just comes down to will power and who wants it more. It's a good drill. Sometimes, it can get a little physical and guys get banged up, but I think it's pretty productive."
Mike McCarthy, on going from morning practices to night practices beginning on Thursday: "It's not a popular transition. I think everybody would rather get up and get going, and get the heavy lifting done in the morning. I think that's convenient, that's preferred. Maybe a couple people don't like the early mornings, but for the most part, everybody does, but there's a reason why we're doing this and I stated it at the beginning of camp. Our first four games, it is a little different from the normal and what we've experienced in the past. I want the ability to make our players being comfortable, being uncomfortable, getting up in an up-and-down schedule."
Bishop, on whether he noticed the replacement referees at practice: "I had no idea about that. I was too focused on John Madden out there."
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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.