Late in this year’s draft, the Green Bay Packers used sixth-round picks on playmaking tight end Kennard Backman and big-play defensive tackle Christian Ringo.
Through most of the offseason and training camp, Backman couldn’t catch with any consistency and Ringo couldn’t get into the backfield.
That changed on Thursday.Backman, who had 90 catches during his final three seasons at Alabama-Birmingham, made two big catches deep down the field, including for a touchdown from Matt Blanchard in a red-zone drill.
“I think KB’s made some good strides,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after Thursday’s practice. “Like I’ve said many times standing here, it’s about the mental part where you can really take advantage. Physically, he’s very gifted, as are the other guys he’s competing with. It’s mentally when you get out there a little different with the 1’s because there’s maybe some quicker checks or some things he might not be thinking about right away that maybe Richard (Rodgers) and Andrew (Quarless) are.”
Ringo had 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for losses as a senior at Louisiana-Lafayette. That production hadn’t been close to translating to the professional level. In the one-on-one pass-rushing drill, he had been 2-11 before Thursday, when he went 2-0 — including an impressive win against Garth Gerhart, when he used his strength to jolt Gerhart and then got past him. In the red-zone drill, he almost intercepted a screen and then used his speed to get around Lane Taylor for what might have been a sack.
While defensive line coach Mike Trgovac cautioned that it’s easy to see the splash plays but harder to see the mistakes, it’s certainly a good sign for a player vying for a roster spot at a deep position group.
“When I get into a rhythm like that, I can mix it up like that,” Ringo said. “I had a good rhythm going. I’m just going to try to continue to keep it going (and) hopefully carry it over to Sunday.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.