After dispatching with injury explanations after yesterday's practice, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy provided updates on some positional battles.
Johnathan Franklin is going to get a chance to be the team's primary punt returner. McCarthy's taking a simple approach to his evaluation, "Everyone must have confidence he can field the ball and make good decisions. Then play within the scheme." Taking Randall Cobb off of special teams is a high priority for the team this summer, but it can only happen if someone else proves capable. If Franklin proves a competent return man, the Packers, his presence along with Jeremy Ross should convince the Packers to let Cobb focus solely on offense.
McCarthy explained that the place-kicking competition will take place every other day. The kickers practiced yesterday, and if you place value on first practices the newcomer had the better day. Mason Crosby hit four of his six field goal attempts while Giorgio Tavecchio only missed one, a 53-yarder. This competition will most likely be decided during the preseason games.
Both Friday and Saturday saw Don Barclay taking snaps at center. Heading into camp, the only backup lineman with any meaningful practice time at center was Greg Van Roten. By cross-training Barclay, the Packers provide themselves more flexibility later in the preseason when deciding which linemen to keep. Barclay, who fumbled some snaps today, still has a ways to go before the team is comfortable sending him in at center. However, McCarthy didn't seem too concerned, "In fairness to Barclay, it's new for him working there... Barclay earned an opportunity to compete for starting positions on this football team."
As we mentioned in yesterday's press conference wrap up, DuJuan Harris' stint on the PUP enhances James Starks' and Alex Green's chances of making the team. According to McCarthy, Starks performed well in pass protection and the checkdown area. As readers of this blog know, the surest way a Packers running back can get on the field is pass pro. As for Green, McCarthy spoke mostly about his struggles returning from the torn ACL he suffered in 2011. In McCarthy's estimation, Green is playing with more confidence in his knee than a year ago.
Johnny Jolly may be a long shot to make the final roster, but he helped his cause by showing up in better shape than OTAs. McCarthy noted the team is being smart with Jolly by not trying to reacclimate him too quickly. "You have to be realistic."
Tomorrow, the Packers hold their first padded practice of camp. For the rookies and first-year players, this will be the first time the team gets to see how they stack up against NFL competition in game like situations. Keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company all weekend for the latest news and updates about Packers training camp.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn