On Saturday, the Green Bay Packers held the second and final day of practice during their 2017 rookie orientation weekend, and the day wrapped up with media interviews of head coach Mike McCarthy and several of the Packers’ rookies. McCarthy’s press conference is available at Packers.com.
First, McCarthy praised the work of the two quarterbacks, free agent signing Taysom Hill and tryout invite Drew Bauer. McCarthy said that the two “did an outstanding job,” particularly pointing out their good footwork and the reps they put on tape. He also indicated that the two players “took a huge jump” from the first day, even though he was pleased with their tape from the first practice.
As for Hill in particular, McCarthy simply said “he belongs,” implying that he feels the BYU product has the ability to compete for an NFL roster.
Overall, the talent level at the orientation camp has McCarthy very pleased, and leaves him and the front office, led by Ted Thompson, with difficult choices to make about the few remaining roster spots. “I think our personnel department did an outstanding job,” McCarthy said. “We have some decisions to make and we’ve been very impressed with a number of young men.”
McCarthy was then asked about the right guard position on the offensive line, and even though none of the players in rookie camp are expected to compete for the starting job, he did discuss what the team looks for in its reserve linemen: “You’re looking for flexibility.” He went on to note that that quality is even more important for offensive linemen than for players at other positions: “If you’re not a starter at any part of our football team, especially OL, your value is going to increase with the ability to play more than one position.”
One rookie in particular whose versatility has been discussed at length over the past week is Josh Jones, the second round pick from NC State. When asked how soon Jones will take over a variety of roles on defense, McCarthy said that “really, it’s up to the player.” He expanded on that later: “You have a vision, you have a plan of what you want to look like on offense, defense, special teams ... If a player has the ability to play three positions, we need to give him that opportunity.” However, he reaffirmed that the player’s own development and understanding of the scheme will determine just how quickly that happens.
While McCarthy was focused on what was happening on the field on Friday, the biggest story coming out of the first day’s practice was the injury to fourth-round pick Vince Biegel, the linebacker out of Wisconsin. Biegel’s injury was first reported as a lower-body injury, then clarified later to be actually an injury to his hand. McCarthy said that Biegel did practice on Saturday, though with a club on his injured hand. Still he said that the former Badger is “doing okay,” a sign that he should be in good shape to put in a full workload when OTAs come around soon.
Finally, McCarthy seems to bristle a bit at the term “rookie minicamp,” preferring instead the term “orientation.” He expanded on that thought, explaining that the team is focused on helping the players acclimate to how the Packers function as a football operation: “There’s nothing worse than you have a new job and you’re worried about 10, 12 things that have nothing to do with your ability to make the team,” he said. “We try to eliminate as much of that stress as we possibly can.”
The Packers resume on-field practices for the full team with Organized Team Activities, which begin on May 22nd. Those will run for three weeks before the team holds its mandatory minicamp starting June 15th.