Initial impressions

McCarthy opens first rookie camp; observations of Packers draft picks

The Green Bay Packers opened their Rookie Orientation Camp today in the Don Hutson Center in Green Bay. The camp, which continues through Sunday, features Green Bay's 11 draft picks, plus a number of other rookie free agents and players who were on the Packers' practice squad last season.

The rookie camp, a first by Packers coach Mike McCarthy, gives the team's draft picks and rookies a chance to get their feet wet with the coaching staff prior to the team's mandatory minicamp May 18-20. All practices until training camp are conducted in shorts and no pads.

"I think it's very important, particularly with young players and you can even say a young coaching staff, or with the coaching staff the first time being together, to do things in a progression," said McCarthy. "If you took this group and threw them in with the veterans, they are clearly at a disadvantage. I was just talking to (former Packers wide receiver) Robert Brooks during practice and he was talking about his first experience in his first camp. I mean, not a lot of veteran players help the young guys. You'd like to think they all do, but they're competing against them for a job. You'd like to eliminate the anxiety for a new guy coming into a situation. To me, there are so many positives out of this camp. It gives a guy a chance to come here in two weeks (for the full-squad camp) and get something out of it, instead of feeling totally lost, like ‘Oh, my God, I've got so much work to do.'"

With the veterans away, the rookies went through a typical practice and got familiar with the various drills that are conducted by the coaching staff. At times, because of the shortage of players, coaches had to step in and play defensive positions. Near the end of practice, the team scrimmaged for about a dozen plays.

Here are some initial observations on Green Bay's draft selections in today's practice:

Justin Harrell: He participated in drills but was held out of the team drills for precautionary reasons. McCarthy said that Harrell is at the end of his rehab for a torn biceps that he sustained last September. Harrell is expected to participate in team drills during the full-squad camp in two weeks.

Brandon Jackson: The second round pick displayed excellent quickness and burst during his runs in the team drill.

"I thought Jackson's feet was everything we saw on film," McCarthy said. "He has very good start and stop, which is what we saw out here today."

James Jones: The receiver will be fun to watch as a receiver and on special teams. Great strength for a receiver, which should help him create separation from defensive backs. Jones has the speed and physical ability to be very effective for the Packers on special teams.

Aaron Rouse: Tall for an NFL safety, Rouse prides himself on his tackling ability and hard-hitting style. He said during an interview prior to practice that he once knocked an opponent unconscious during a game as a result of one of his hits. Of course, he won't be able to put his hitting on display until late July. In the meantime he will be learning his assignments in the defensive backfield as he competes for playing time against veteran Marquand Manuel.

Allen Barbre: A fourth round pick, Barbre held his own in blocking drills against other defensive linemen. He appears to have excellent technique and quick feet. He played left guard in the scrimmage, but it's not a stretch to see him as an heir apparent to either Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher.

David Clowney: He's not the biggest receiver. He will have to use his speed on special teams to have a chance of making the roster. Initial impression from this perch, however, is Clowney is just another receiver.

Korey Hall: He was selected in the sixth round mainly to play on special teams. Tough to judge him on that ability in minicamps since there are no team special teams drills. But he is a ‘football player' that Ted Thompson and McCarthy prefer, so look for him to stick around and contribute.

Desmond Bishop: The Packers are starting him out at the middle linebacker spot.

Mason Crosby: We'll be able to judge him in the preseason games when he alternates with Dave Rayner. Give him an ‘A' for effort today, however. He took part in a tackling drill with during a special teams session and was knocked to the ground by a teammate holding a pad that he was supposed to wrap with his arms. Kickers!

DeShawn Wynn: He strained a calf muscle during practice and was unable to take part in team drills. Wynn has a good chance to make the roster, but he got off to a shaky start today.

Clark Harris: A tall tight end, Harris is a good target. He admits, however, that he will have to work on his blocking to improve his chances of making the team. He also will have still competition as a long snapper against veteran Rob Davis.

"I thought Justin looked good," said McCarthy. "He's very athletic. He's the size we looked for. He's everything we looked for on film."

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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