Notebook: Jones' Job Not Secure

Brady Poppinga started at outside linebacker rather than Brad Jones during Wednesday's OTA, plus more from 1265 Lombardi Ave.

Brad Jones isn't the type to get too big for his britches.

When Packer Report asked Jones about the team's apparent faith in him after electing to let Aaron Kampman depart in free agency, Jones scoffed at the notion that he was the presumed starter. Rather, he said he felt like he'd be playing for a spot on the roster during training camp and the preseason.

Jones might be the presumed starter, but when Wednesday's organized team activity was opened to reporters, it was veteran Brady Poppinga taking all of the snaps with the No. 1 defense.

Jones started seven games in place of the injured Kampman last season as a rookie seventh-round pick. He tied for third on the team with four sacks and finished fourth with 11 quarterback hits, by the Packers' tally.

Poppinga, meanwhile, started the first three games last season until being replaced by rookie first-round pick Clay Matthews III. In five seasons, Poppinga has started 43 games and played in 75 of a possible 80 games. He has four career sacks. In his last three seasons, Poppinga has one sack, one interception, no forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries.

"It's very competitive," outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said on Wednesday. "It will be competitive all the way up until that first game. Iron sharpens iron. I think you need to keep everybody on edge and keep everything competitive. I don't think anybody can exhale at any time. They fall into a comfort zone and then they go backwards."

Jones wasn't in the locker room on Wednesday. When interviewed during Fan Fest, he was noticeably bigger.

"That's going to help him out tremendously," Greene said. "I think he ended up playing the season at like 230, which is really light. He's a little bit heavier now and it's already having an impact in his play."

On the move

Will Blackmon is completing his recovery from knee surgery early last season by learning a new position.

The Packers moved the fifth-year player from cornerback to safety early in the offseason. He'll join a crowded safety corps that's headlined by Pro Bowler Nick Collins, returning starter Atari Bigby, third-round pick Morgan Burnett, special-teams standout Derrick Martin, intriguing receiver-turned-safety Khalil Jones, recently re-signed Charlie Peprah and undrafted Anthony Levine. Jarrett Bush can play corner and safety.

Blackmon, who excels as a punt returner, expects to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

Bulaga is a left tackle

The grooming process is under way for rookie Bryan Bulaga at left tackle. The team's first-round draft pick is working for the first time with veteran starter Chad Clifton, whom Bulaga is projected to replace down the line, in the OTAs. On Wednesday, Clifton did everything but the 11-on-11 period, when Bulaga worked with the starters.

"Bryan Bulaga will play tackle in this league. I don't have any question about that," said coach Mike McCarthy, reaffirming the team's decision to have the former Iowa standout work behind Clifton this year, rather than possibly contend for a starting spot at another position. "If we had any question about that, he probably wouldn't be here in Green Bay."

Extra points

— Tight end Jermichael Finley plans to join Packers receiver Greg Jennings and several other skilled players in the league at Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald's passing camp in Minneapolis this summer.

— In a change from previous years, McCarthy is giving players a week off from on-field work during the OTAs. They won't practice the week of May 23.

OTA practices will resume June 1 with three practices a week in a Tuesday-to-Thursday format for three straight weeks. The Wednesday practices are open to fans, weather-permitting.


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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