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Three days, three key ways to watch;
Also, celebrating Lombardi’s birthday
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers’ not-really-mandatory minicamp begins tomorrow and continues Wednesday and Thursday at Clarke Hinkle Field. Practices begin at 11:30 each day and are open to the public.
Here’s one suggestion in terms of what to watch for each day:
** Day One – Devote the first day to an open-minded approach to first impressions. Don’t get too high, or too low, on any individual player because of a handful of plays.
If rookie receiver Deangelo Yancey burns Randall for a big play it would be an overreaction to predict greatness for one and doom-and-gloom for the other.
Experience tells me to go in with eyes and ears open.
Sometimes it’s the way players react to comments from their head coach, coordinator, position coach or teammates can be quite telling. A year ago, I vividly recall defensive line coach Mike Trgovac at once prodding and complimenting first-round draft pick Kenny Clark.
The rookie’s response was a “yes, sir” and a helmet nod.
Then, Clark immediately incorporated Trgovac’s words into action on his next rep in the drill. It was an impressive piece of coaching by Trgovac and listening by Clark.
It’s why I liked him as a 20-year-old rookie. It’s also why I like him even more as a second-year pro after an awesome offseason.
My advice would be to assess each position group as a unit unto itself. Literally, as well as figuratively, spend time sizing up the group as a whole.
See how rookie Kevin King handles himself in drills alongside veterans such as Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall. Watch Josh Jones interact with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and others.
Take note of how Montravius Adams moves, uses his hands and plays with explosion through the drills. It isn’t necessarily indicative of Adams’ future success, but without pads and live hitting it at least provides some useful information.
** Day Two – Devote this day to the second- through fifth-year veterans, especially in the passing game. The emphasis on throwing, catching, covering and defending is going to continue through the minicamps.
I’ll be curious to see veterans such as Davante Adams work over the young cornerbacks. It’s at once eye-opening and educational when the Davante Adamses of the NFL world turn rookie defensive backs inside-out.
Also, sit back and revel in the wonder that is Aaron Rodgers.
The Pro Bowl quarterback has been excused. He’s one of the 16 fifth-year and more players who are excused.
However, his replacements will be in full view, and coming of head coach Mike McCarthy’s not-so-flattering opinion of how they’ve played thus far.
It is a reminder that a quarterback of Rodgers’ skill is a beautiful thing.
Appreciate the tight spirals, the needle-threading accuracy and overall command of the offense.
It bodes well that according to Pro Football Focus’ individual player ratings, Rodgers ranked a not-surprising third out of 34 quarterbacks.
In addition, Rodgers’ personal body guards – David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga – graded out extremely high among tackles.
Bakhtiari ranked fourth among 78 tackles. Bulaga was 15th.
That’s a reassuring stat if ever there was one.
** Day Three – I suppose it is possible head coach Mike McCarthy could give the players a shorter workload in deference to a team-building activity.
I suggest Yard-Zhee – a lawn version of Yahtzee – which requires strategy, patience and exercise (picking up the six-inch, wooden dice after each throw, for example).
In this regard, my advice would be to make sure to attend tomorrow or Wednesday if you have options.
If the Packers do give it a go, I’d pay attention to the players who were practicing on Tuesday, but were out by Thursday.
You’ve got to be available and accountable according to a certain head coach. That’s the first job. Nothing else happens if you’re not on the field.
It’s why Brett Favre still regards his consecutive games streak the statistic he’s most proud of. It’s where all the wins and touchdowns passes begin.
Finally, enjoy the last glimpse of the Packers between now and the July 27 start of training camp.
** The great coach – Vincent T. Lombardi’s birthday was Sunday, June 11. He was born in 1913.
Here’s a way to celebrate: Tune in to The Fan (WDUZ – 107.5 on the FM dial) for today’s show between 4 and 6. I’m going to have our producer play Paul Harvey’s stirring rendition of a segment he did when the great coach passed away.
Also, check out a YouTube post of former Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur teaching a class on “Nickel/Dime Defense”. It was part of The Science of Coaching’s video lecture series in which proceeds benefited Make-A-Wish.