The Green Bay Packers took the field for their first open practice of the 2016 season on Tuesday, and their second Organized Team Activities practice overall. It was the first chance for fans and media alike to get a feel for the team's offseason additions, position changes, and fill-in plans for the few players who departed over the last several months.
One of the big sets of moves this offseason was the shifting of Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker from the inside and of Datone Jones to elephant pass-rusher from base defensive end. Both players were indeed practicing with the outside linebackers today, as expected, a sign that those moves are permanent.
Regarding Jones in particular, head coach Mike McCarthy discussed that move in his post-practice press conference, saying that he has "the ability to play a 5, 6, 7, 9 technique, and particularly playing inside on rush situations," which suggests that he will be used much like Mike Neal was a few years ago when making his transition from end to linebacker. McCarthy says that Jones has "kind of found his niche" at that position after just a few days.
Play of the day honors go out to wide receiver Davante Adams, for this play as described by ESPN's Jason Wilde:
Most spectacular play of #Packers OTA practice thusfar: Adams goes up and over Gunter on twisting, acrobatic 50-yard catch from Rodgers.— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) May 24, 2016
Adams will need to demonstrate that sort of ability throughout the spring and into training camp to maintain a hold on a roster spot into the 2016 season. However, McCarthy noted that Adams "looks stronger this year, and he's healthy," which would be at least a big step forward for him over a year ago.
The Packers did have twelve players who were not working fully with the team on Tuesday, as the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Ryan Wood breaks down:
#Packers limited at practice:— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) May 24, 2016
Nelson, Barrington, and Montgomery are not surprises - each of those three players ended the 2015 season on injured reserve. McCarthy did say that Nelson is "right on schedule" and that they will not work him into group drills for a while yet.
Finally, McCarthy took on one of the elephants in the room, as he was asked about the status of free agent fullback John Kuhn. The coach was his usual non-committal self about player acquisition, only saying that the process goes "year-round." He did comment that he "would never say the door is closed on any of our former players, especially John Kuhn (but) we're still focused on the players we have now." Between this and the fact that reporters noted that Kuhn's locker is now fully empty and free of any nametags, it suggests that the team is indeed proceeding forward without him until or unless something changes.
Stay tuned for more out of OTAs.