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By CHRIS HAVEL
Veterans, rookies get busy on Day 2 of OTA’s – first that’s open to fans, media
Herb Waters wears No. 16.
He plays wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers. He is a six-foot, 188-pound rookie from the University of Miami. He is about as nondescript as they come in OTAs. Then, suddenly, he flashes.
As Brett Hundley’s high-arching pass pierces the southeasterly breeze, Waters outmaneuvers two defenders, high-points the lob and deftly plucks it with his hands and cradles it to safety.
Waters succeeded in going where every undrafted free agent wants to be: A place where he is noticed. For Waters, the clever jostling and keen grab were enough to get noticed.
For rookies such as him, though, it’s just the beginning. So it was for young and old alike Tuesday at the Packers’ second official Organized Team Activities (OTA) workout. It was the first in view of the fans and media.
Here are several observations:
Jared Cook is an athlete.
There hasn’t been this sleek, fast and large tight end in a Packers’ uniform in forever. Cook fills out his No. 89 jersey through the chest and shoulders, but it’s his sprinter-like legs that draw attention.
Cook can run. If he doesn’t successfully challenge the heart of NFL defenses I’ll be surprised. After years of working with hacks and wannabes at quarterback, Cook will have to get used to catching the football between the “8” and the “9.”
It’s a nice problem to have.
The wait is over. That’s right.
Eddie Lacy is back and better – but not bigger – than ever before. Lacy, who went on a P90X workout campaign this offseason, seems to have conquered his battle of the bulge.
Nobody would ever mistake Lacy for svelte – my guess is he currently weighs 235 – but it’s his tone and conditioning that seem to have improved.
Frankly, who cares if Lacy bowls over defenders at 270 or gets them off balance and then crushes them at 235? What matters is that he gets the job done, and that his conditioning is such that it allows him to be a legit threat in the fourth quarter.
Lacy’s calves and biceps are taut. His stomach is noticeable but not ridiculously so. Simply put he looks good. He looks healthy.
He also smiled a lot, which suggests he’s happy.
Martinez looked incredibly comfortable for a rookie.
Blake Martinez, the inside linebacker from Stanford, lined up with the starters in the base 3-4 defense. He joined Jake Ryan at inside linebacker while veteran Sam Barrington sat out as he recovers from last season’s injury.
He seemed to be able to communicate effectively as he shouted out defenses and positioned players accordingly.
Physically, Martinez doesn’t give the impression of being in any way too small to man the position. In fact, Martinez looks like he could defend the run or the pass. He has nice swivel in his hips and finds the football easily in the air.
Mike Pennel, big ol’ No. 64, was slugging it out in the defensive line. Pennel was lining up where he might’ve lined up – at nose with the starters – if he hadn’t been suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
I tried to pencil in Kenny Clark, the Packers’ first-round pick, in where Pennel was playing. I think Clark’s going to be a terrific addition, but I also think just about when he starts to hit the rookie wall in Week 5 Pennel will be back.
The suspension is unfortunate but Clark’s presence should be able to fill the void. And Pennel’s return will bolster the depth.
Mike McCarthy was asked about Davante Adams.
Adams, who struggled as a second-year receiver in 2015, made several impressive plays on Tuesday. One catch, in particular, drew “oohs!” and “ahhs!” He beat double-coverage and came down with the football.
“He looks a lot stronger than in the past,” McCarthy said of Adams. “He’s healthy. We’ve talked about this a bunch during the season. I think he definitely showed that (strength) today.
“He high-pointed the football, he made the play … frankly, he needed an off-season to get healthy and stronger and it looks like he’s done that.”
Datone Jones looked leaner and stronger
Jones’ prepares to play the “elephant” position in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme.
“Jones playing the elephant – I think the position reflects the way you have to use him,” McCarthy said. “His flexibility as a five-technique, a six-, a seven- … nine-technique – Datone’s very productive with the opportunities he gets – production versus playing time. He’s really found his niche here.
“I think it’s the right position for him.”
McCarthy on Clinton-Dix
McCarthy was asked about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who along with veteran safety Morgan Burnett appears to be in tip-top shape going into the season.
“I think (Clinton-Dix) is an excellent young player,” McCarthy said. “I think Ha Ha is as fine a safety as there is in the NFL. I think he and Morgan Burnett, the way they fly around out there, their cohesiveness on the back end … I like it.”
Both spent time between drills discussing football on the sideline. It seems Clinton-Dix and Burnett feed off each other.
“I like our secondary,” McCarthy said.
Before he called it a news conference, McCarthy was asked about the ageless one, Julius Peppers.
The outside linebacker/edge pass rusher is 36 years old. He also doesn’t show signs of slowing down as he enters his third season in Green Bay.
“Julius Peppers is ageless, I agree with that,” McCarthy said. “When you see him run the 220s and some of the conditioning stuff he does with the DBs, it’s impressive.”
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com).
Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games. Also check out our new Podcast: Between the Lines for more Packers insights. New episodes every Wednesday.