Notebook: Tryout candidates await their fate

The Packers reportedly sign one of the 19 tryout players; McCarthy provides an injury update and his take on Jared Allen on final day of the rookie orientation camp.

At the end of Sunday's rookie orientation camp, Packers coach Mike McCarthy figured he'd sign "approximately four" of the undrafted free agents who participated this weekend on a tryout basis.

McCarthy hinted that former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater running back Justin Beaver might be one of them. One of the 19 tryout players who did sign a contract, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is Arkansas defensive tackle Fred Bledsoe.

The 6-foot-3, 329-pounder started his Razorbacks career on the  defensive line, shifted to the offensive line during his sophomore season to help an injury-plagued unit, then moved back to defense. The move perhaps derailed his career; after playing 11 games as a true freshman, he played in just one as a junior.

As a senior, he played in 13 games with just two starts — the only two starts of his career — tallying 36 tackles (22 solo), four tackles for loss and one quarterback hit.

As for the 5-foot-7 Beaver, the winner of the Gagliardi Trophy — Division III's equivalent of the Heisman, McCarthy spoke as if he would like to sign Beaver, but the spaces are limited with the Packers' roster at 76 (the maximum is 80).

"I'll tell you what, he's been very impressive," McCarthy said. "He's done a very nice job. He plays with a lot of energy, very quick, explosive. As far as, does he have a shot, that's something actually we'll discuss when we get back upstairs (to meet with GM Ted Thompson and the personnel department). But I would love for him to have an opportunity, because he's been impressive."

Not that signing a contract guarantees a ticket to training camp. Assuming the Packers sign four players to raise the roster to the 80-man limit, that figure will not include the nine draft picks nor running back Ryan Grant (unsigned tender). Every time one of those players sign a contract, one of the players on the roster will be out of work.

Any signings should be made by Wednesday.

Injury updates

McCarthy was asked whether four key players who ended the season on injured reserve — defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder), tight end Tory Humphrey (ankle), cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) and linebacker Abdul Hodge (knee) — would be ready for the June minicamp.

"I think Tory is close," McCarthy said. "Johnny, we'll probably just be smart with him. It was a pretty serious injury. Just being cautious with (Hodge), but he feels great. … We're just going to be smart (with Blackmon) and make sure we let the foot heal."

To translate, being "smart" with Jolly and Blackmon probably means McCarthy will hold both out until training camp.

Speaking of injuries, McCarthy said nobody was hurt during the rookie camp.

Just for rookies

Just a few years ago, the post-draft minicamp included a couple days of workouts for the rookies before the veterans joined them. Not so anymore, and as long as it's McCarthy's team, he'll continue the newbies-only approach.

"In my experience of doing it this way and the other way, this is in my view the best way to go," he said. "It's a teaching opportunity to get every player off on the right foot, cover all the little things that you sometimes don't take the time to cover in detail, both on and off the field. And it just gives them a chance so when they do come back here for the OTAs, they're able to step up and compete and step right into the flow of practice."

Allen wrench

McCarthy isn't sweating the Vikings' acquisition of Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, a big-time pass rusher who will improve an already superb defensive line.

"It's like anything, it depends on how you want to look at it. They got a very good player, spent a lot more money on their cap. So, it depends how you want to look at it," said McCarthy, perhaps silently noting Thompson's lack of moves in free agency.

What's next?

After the rookie orientation camp, the Packers return to the field for 13 organized team activity workouts from May 19 through June 12. One OTA practice per week — tentatively May 21, May 29, June 4 and June 11 — will be held at Ray Nitschke Field, weather permitting, and be open to the public. Those practices are voluntary.

The mandatory minicamp follows shortly thereafter, from June 17-19. All practices will be held at Ray Nitschke Field and be open to the public.

Training camp starts July 28 on Clarke Hinkle Field.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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