Wednesday’s Play, Player and Position of Day

We highlight the best of Day 4 of training camp, plus take a look at the state of the cornerbacks in our Position of the Day feature.

Here is our review of the fourth day of Green Bay Packers training camp.

PLAY OF THE DAY

There’s a lot going on on this play, which went into the books as an incompletion for quarterback Scott Tolzien.

At the snap, second-year outside linebacker Nate Palmer blew past first-year offensive tackle Aaron Adams. Had this been a game, Palmer almost certainly would have sacked Tolzien.

Instead, Palmer let up to let the play continue, and Tolzien bought time by escaping to his right. Tolzien fired a pass to Jarrett Boykin, but Jarrett Bush got in front of the ball for what should have been an interception. Instead, Boykin went through Bush’s inside shoulder to rip the ball out of Bush’s hands and make the catch, though he correctly was ruled out of bounds.

There’s plenty of good video for coach Mike McCarthy to consider. One, Palmer is having an excellent camp. Who knows how much playing time will be available once fellow outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry are full-go, but Palmer certainly has put himself in position to be an impact player after a disappointingly quiet rookie season.

Two, Bush’s coverage was excellent. As a ninth-year pro, he’s a marvel. No one works harder than Bush on the practice field, whether it’s a Wednesday in training camp or a Wednesday during the season. Third, it was an incredible show of strength and effort by Boykin, who has put an early strangle hold on the No. 3 receiver position. At this point, Boykin is No. 3 and everyone else is battling for No. 4 and beyond.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Players, not player, of the day, though B.J. Raji certainly set the tone.

Green Bay’s run defense has been bad for the past four seasons. Even during the Super Bowl season, Green Bay yielded 4.7 yards per carry. That was followed by 4.7 in 2011, 4.5 in 2012 and 4.6 in 2013.

So, while it’s important to note that this was just one drill early in training camp, the defense dominated a team-run period. On the first play, an Eddie Lacy run to the left, the play-side defense bottled Lacy up, which allowed Clay Matthews to make the stop from the back side. On the last play, Sam Barrington delivered a powerful hit to stop James Starks in his tracks at about the line of scrimmage.

The defense’s dominance continued in the next period. On the first play of a red zone session, DuJuan Harris was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Later, rookie outside linebacker Carl Bradford set the edge, which funneled Starks to the middle, where he was stopped by undrafted rookie Luther Robinson.

Other than Lacy running around left end for a touchdown in the red zone period and, later in practice, trucking through a couple of tackle attempts, the defense set the tone.

POSITION OF THE DAY

Green Bay is incredibly deep at cornerback. Tramon Williams, who put together a superb second half of the season, is entering the final season of a big-money contract. Sam Shields, who covered well against several top receivers last season, is entering the first season of his big-money contract. Casey Hayward, whose second season was sunk by hamstring problems, intercepted six passes in 2012. Davon House, who is entering the final season of his rookie deal, started five games last season and broke up three passes in the playoff game. Plus, there’s veteran Jarrett Bush, promising first-year player Jumal Rolle and rookie sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson.

“That room is great,” House said. “Tramon, Sam, Casey, JB, you’ve got some of the young guys. So, how do I get on the field? Make plays. Catch picks. Should’ve done it last year.”

House could very well be on the outside looking in again this season. Since House is limited to playing cornerback (not the slot positions), he not only has to beat out Williams, Shields and Hayward for playing time in the base defense but to get on the field in nickel and dime, since those spots probably will belong to Hayward and Micah Hyde.

To that end, he trained with some of the top cornerbacks in the game during the break between the minicamp and start of training camp.

“For me, last year was a big year, but I’d say this offseason, working with some elite guys, (Darrelle) Revis, Logan Ryan, I learned to just always have confidence,” House said. “Every time I go out there, I just tell me myself, ‘This guy’s not going to catch the ball.’ That’s my mind-set.”

No spots are guaranteed, which is what position coach Joe Whitt proclaimed following one of the offseason practices. During one period, the dime defense had House and Shields on the outside, Williams and Hyde inside and Hayward on the bench, with plenty of mixing and matching as the period progressed.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

General manager Ted Thompson, on Eddie Lacy’s Year 2 growth: “I thought he was a pretty accomplished player when he got here, but I think he’s probably more confident and relaxed as a player. He’s got his own way, his own style and, quite frankly, I admire him for it. Because a lot of people are nervous and fidgety and concerned about what somebody thinks, and he kind of goes through life having a good time and with a big smile on his face. And he’s also a really good football player, so that helps.”


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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