Perry, Worthy thrown into the fire
By Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel
~Green Bay — The tendency may be to pencil in any rookie behind a veteran. Set a precedent. Don’t throw too much at a wide-eyed rookie learning a new position. Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy were drafted as potential immediate-impact players for the Packers’ last-ranked defense. Guys who can help now. Not in 2013.
Still, it was a minor surprise to see both players thrown into the fire at the team’s first organized team activity. Perry worked with the first-team defense at left outside linebacker, while Worthy lined up next to B.J. Raji in nickel. At both positions, Perry and Worthy could give the pass rush some life.
Of course, coaches aren’t going to name any rookie a starter in May. But they might as well not waste any time in giving both Perry and Worthy opportunities. It wouldn’t be a surprise if both players remained at those positions when training camp begins. It’ll speed up the learning process. Players learn by doing. Coaches constantly emphasize how precious reps are — be it OTA’s or training camp — so it does make sense to test Perry and Worthy early.
When asked about this Tuesday, coach Mike McCarthy said they want to see young players in as “many different combinations” possible.
“That’s when things get a little disjointed there as far as the different personnel groups, especially going against our offense,” McCarthy said. “We don’t just line up in one or two personnel groups. We’re evaluating everything — personnel, substitution. It’s a huge emphasis from the officiating department; we just had the officials in here yesterday. Obviously the player evaluation, the combination of different rotations per position, we’re trying to get it all done. That’s really what our message to the players was today, the fact that we have nine practices and the three minicamp practices.
“You have 12 opportunities to learn your job and, frankly, if you don’t know what’s expected of you by June 14th, your chances to make our football team drop drastically. And that’s our focus.”
For now, the team is being cautious with Mike Daniels. The Iowa defensive end had shoulder surgery in January and didn’t participate at rookie camp or the first OTA. When he’s healthy, he could get looks in nickel as well. Like Worthy, he’s a shorter, quicker defensive lineman. Neither may be ready to play in base right away, but they could get after the passer. We’ll see. That was a sore spot for the Packers all last season. On third downs, opposing quarterbacks were far too comfortable.
Fixing this was a focus in the draft and appears to be a focus in practices as well. Perry is making his transition to outside linebacker, to a two-point stance against a first-team offense.
“Me playing defensive end all my years in college to now standing up, I have to see things bigger now,” Perry said. “With coaches and my teammates, we’re getting off to a good start and I’m learning. I’m adapting to what they want me to do. …It’s pretty comfortable. I can adapt. And at the end of the day, it’s football.”
Perry added that going with the first team gives him some confidence, too.
“Definitely,” he said. “There’s a part of me that needs to be out there to help the team.”
August will be the true indicator. They’re not in pads yet. These practices are more about installations and fundamentals than all-out application. But seeing Perry and Worthy playing ahead of veterans may hint at some aggressiveness from Green Bay’s staff.
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