Making long-term judgments a week or so into training camp generally doesn't result in accurate assessments. However, in certain situations, that first look can provide a valuable window into a player's development.
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Andy Mulumba missed most of last season while rehabbing from a torn ACL. If the early returns are any indication, the third-year pass rusher has not merely recovered, but improved since last seen on an NFL field.
The first week of Packers training camp included several highlights, but one of the most consistent themes from the team beat was Mulumba's early dominance. The linebacker has enjoyed extra reps with Clay Matthews spending more time inside and Mike Neal sidelined with a PUP designation. In their stead, Mulumba has consistently beaten Green Bay's offensive linemen in one-on-one drills and 11-on-11.
And entering the second week of training camp, Mulumba's strong early performance has begun to pay dividends. On Monday, he received some extra time working with the first-team defense.
While Mulumba's play later in camp and the preseason will have a greater impact on his role with the Packers this season, the fact that he looks impressive so soon after a major injury is a very positive sign. Even after Neal returns to the fold, Green Bay needs another edge rusher to step up and improve the rotation. Mulumba, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, becomes a free agent after the season. With Nick Perry and Neal also set to hit the market this offseason, Mulumba could move into a bigger role, with a nice chuck of change, if things go well in 2015.
But the Packers don't need to make those determinations anytime soon. Right now, they're just happy to have a healthy Mulumba back on the field.