Camped out with ... Ahmad Carroll

Cornerback Ahmad Carroll is learning on the job. With Mike McKenzie holding out, the Green Bay Packers are pushing Carroll along in hopes that their first round draft pick will be ready to contribute when the regular season begins in September.<p>

That means Carroll is staying late after practices to get tips from coaches and veterans, playing often with the first- and second-team defenses, and getting to bed early at night so he's ready for his 6 a.m. wake-up call.

"Once you get out of meetings, you don't have time to talk," Carroll said. "You call your mom or your girlfriend and say, ‘Hey, I'm going to sleep.' The only time you get to talk is on the way to practice."

And during practice. Carroll will not only talk with position coach Kurt Schottenheimer and other defensive backs, but wide receivers as well. During the first week of training camp practices Donald Driver and coach Mike Sherman stayed after a practice and gave Carroll advice.

"(Sherman) was giving me a few pointers on a wide receiver versus cornerback," Carroll said. "Around here we try to help each other get better, so if a receiver has a question for a corner, we try to help him out, or if a corner has a question for a receiver we try to stay after practice to help him out, whether it be a release downfield or a ball being tipped, anything like that."

"They trying to help me a lot. They want to see me come along."

Hawthorne, Carroll and injured Joey Thomas, the first of the third-round draft picks, are vying for the spot vacated by McKenzie, who is holding out because he is unhappy with his current contract.

Carroll has had his ups and downs in training camp. He filled in for injured starter Mike Hawthorne during Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage. While he made some nice pass breakups, he was burned for a long touchdown. Working against the second-string offense Saturday, the 5-foot-10 Carroll was exploited on a third-and-16 play from the offense's 29-yard line.

Quarterback Tim Couch hit Davis with a pass down the right side at the defense's 40. Safety Darren Sharper came over to help Carroll but missed on a breakup attempt as the ball arrived, springing Davis into the clear for the touchdown.

"There's no placing blame on anybody," Carroll said. "I made a mistake, and I try to come back out here and correct it.

"You just have to move on. There's going to be some big plays that are going to be made on you. I just have to make the least amount of mental errors possible."

Carroll has since returned to work with the second-team defense, but he hasn't lost the faith of Sherman.

"If I have to worry about him bouncing back, we got the wrong guy," assured Sherman, though pointing out, "He still has a long way to go, as expected. ... A lot more work to be done there."


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