For three consecutive seasons, an undrafted outside linebacker has made the roster. If you had to put down a dollar on someone this year, it would be Andy Mulumba.
Mulumba's stats at Eastern Michigan didn't exactly send scouts scurrying to the film room. In 48 career games (31 starts), Mulumba tallied all of 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. As a senior, he had one sack and seven tackles for losses.
He made a few eye-catching plays on Saturday, however. Beaten initially by right tackle Marshall Newhouse, Mulumba just kept going and eventually flushed quarterback B.J. Coleman from the pocket. Later, he knocked a pass away from tight end Ryan Taylor. Then, on the final play of the day, it looked like he had gotten free to sack Aaron Rodgers, though the coaches let the play go and Rodgers connected with Jarrett Boykin for a touchdown.
At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, he's a powerful man — power that should come to the forefront when the pads come on starting Sunday.
Coleman had some good moments, including firing a completion on the aforementioned pressure by Mulumba. He also threw a terrific pass to Myles White with untouched A.J. Hawk blitzing up the middle and right in his face.
For a guy with a big-time arm, though, Coleman threw enough ducks to attract a crowd of hunters shopping at Cabela's. Late in a blitz period, he threw a wobbler to Jeremy Ross that was knocked away by Jarrett Bush. During seven-on-seven, he threw a 100 mph duck to Ross, who had no chance given that he was maybe 10 yards from Coleman. Two plays later, a swing pass to Angelo Pease didn't lead the rookie running back far enough and resulted in an incompletion.
Receiver James Jones, however, spoke highly of Coleman after practice.
"As a leader and a good team player, B.J. had it from Day One," Jones said. "He's just been understanding the offense a lot better this year. He's been getting more comfortable and I'm sure once he steps in those games, he's going to be one of the most improved players you'll see on our team."
Position of the day
The battle in the backfield will only get more intense with the full-contact practices beginning.
James Starks is off to a solid start. Talent never has been an issue. When he's been healthy, he's produced. He's looked good the first two days in all phases, with coach Mike McCarthy citing Starks' work in pass protection and checkdowns.
"I just have to be myself, stay healthy," Starks said. "That's the big thing. If I'm healthy, it's not like I can't play the game. I'm confident in my capabilities. I've just got to stay healthy, work hard and continue to get better."
The club probably doesn't know what it has in 2011 third-round pick Alex Green, who got off to a slow start as a rookie before tearing his ACL. He wasn't back at full strength last season and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry while rushing for a team-high 464 yards.
Green had a big run on a cutback on Friday and beat linebacker Brad Jones around the corner on Saturday. He's also had some bad moments, including missing blitzing safety Morgan Burnett early in practice and allowing a sack late in practice when he couldn't handle blitzing safety Jerron McMillian. In the run game, he showed suspect vision by running into the back of one of his linemen.
"I think the biggest thing with Alex is just confidence in the knee, and I think you're seeing it definitely more this year than you did last year," McCarthy said.
Of the rookies, fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin continues to impress. In the open field, he's got an extra gear. He also looks much better on punt returns than he did in the spring. Second-round pick Eddie Lacy has some nifty feet at the line of scrimmage. His true potential should become evident when he can attack defenders with his 230 pounds.
— While Newhouse (right tackle) and Evan Dietrich-Smith (center) have taken the vast majority of the starters' reps, Don Barclay has worked with the No. 1 offensive line at both spots. At center, he botched back-to-back snaps with Rodgers, though McCarthy took the blame for those miscues. "That's the hardest footwork that he has from an assignment standpoint," McCarthy said. "I'm a little more irritated with the play selection with the rotation."
Barclay, McCarthy added later, is a "heck of a football player" who has "earned an opportunity to compete for starting positions."
— Receiver Sederrik Cunningham was a great story. He went undrafted and unsigned out of Furman in 2012 before joining the Packers a couple weeks before the 2013 draft. His big chance didn't last long, however. He dislocated his left wrist late in Friday's practice. He had surgery and had his arm in a sling on Saturday.
"It's huge. It's hurtful. It's upsetting," he said. "But the thing I always rely on is God makes no mistakes. He sends you trials and tribulations as tests. ‘Sederrik I'm throwing you this test. Can you pass it?' What I have to do is stay prayed up and have to keep the faith. I don't pray over my food any different. I don't say, ‘Why me?' I say, ‘Thanks. Thank you for the wrist injury. Thank you for the opportunities because it's only going to make me a stronger and better person.' May not be on the field? Could be on the field? But it could be something else."
— For what it's worth, the pecking order at punt returner was Randall Cobb, Ross, Franklin, Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams. Ross had an impressive day. With his combination of size and speed, he's a terror in the open field. Ultimately, the return jobs are probably his to lose.
— Williams broke up two passes during the practice-ending no-huddle drill. He said he can have a "better year" than he did in 2010, when he had nine interceptions, including playoffs.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.