GREEN BAY – While he reminds himself – and others – every year that it’s only a three-day camp conducted in helmets and shorts, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was clearly pleased Sunday with what he saw from his freshman class during the annual post-draft rookie orientation camp.
“As I told the rookies at the end of practice today, I felt it was clearly one of our better rookie camps, if not the best,” McCarthy said Sunday afternoon, following the eighth post-draft camp of his tenure. “I'll let this final day of video make that clear, but I thought the practices increased as far as the production and efficiency, seeing guys get on the same page.
“I thought the work was very good. The professionalism this group conducted themselves I thought was exemplary. We definitely feel good about the quality of the men top to bottom that were here this weekend.”
Asked if anyone stood out to him, McCarthy again praised undrafted free agent running back Angelo Pease, whom he’d singled out after the first practice on Friday, too.
“There's always surprises. I'd like to watch today (on film) before I point anybody out specifically,” McCarthy said. “You're always excited about your draft picks. I thought the summer free agent signings were excellent. I'm going to do it to him again, I thought Pease of Kansas State had a very good weekend. He had another run today. I think he's a good young back."
Asked how Pease, who had only 96 carries at Kansas State in two seasons, slipped through the cracks, McCarthy replied, “Well, he’s here for a reason. So that’s a credit to the player and that’s a credit to our personnel department. You’re also practicing in helmets and shorts – and that’s why you have to be practical about what you saw today. It really confirms movement ability, athletic ability. Are they systematic? Do they fit what you’re looking for? The real football doesn’t start until training camp and we all realize that.”
As McCarthy spoke with reporters, general manager Ted Thompson and the scouting staff were discussing the 27 tryout players who participated in the camp, along with 11 draft picks and eight of the team’s nine undrafted free agents (defensive tackle Gilbert Pena was excused). The Packers traditionally have signed a handful of tryout players after the camp ends.
Players on the roster Monday will then join the rest of the team during the final week of Phase II workouts. Phase III, with organized team activity practices, starts May 21.
The Packers had 84 players on the roster at the start of rookie camp, leaving room for the team to sign as many as six tryout players.
“The process of who stays and who moves on will be determined throughout the day,” McCarthy said.
Over the past five rookie camps, the Packers have brought back at least three tryout players each year.
Last year, tackle Shea Allard, wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, guard Grant Cook, wide receiver/running back Curenski Gilleylen and cornerback Otis Merrill were all signed to the active roster after the camp ended, and tight end Brandon Bostick was added later that month. Boykin, who’d been released by Jacksonville a week earlier after taking part in the Jaguars’ rookie camp, ended up making the 53-man roster coming out of camp. Bostick spent the entire year on the practice squad and was taking part in this year’s camp, too.
There was no rookie orientation camp in 2011 due to the lockout, but in 2010, the Packers brought back wide receiver Shawn Gore, safety Anthony Levine and nose tackle Aleric Mullins. Levine ended up on the practice squad and saw time on the 53-man roster.
In 2009, cornerback Trevor Ford, offensive tackle Dane Randolph, defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi and punter Adam Graessle were signed. In 2008, cornerback Condrew Allen, cornerback Kyle Ward Lafayette and offensive tackle Ryan Considine were brought back. And in 2007, defensive end DeVon Hicks, offensive lineman Pete Bier and fullback Corey White were signed.
“You spend more time on the video than you normally at camps like this because you really want to make sure you watch every play, every guy and make sure you have a clean evaluation. Because you don’t want to have someone here and you move on (too) quickly and they go on and (play elsewhere),” McCarthy said. “Obviously you didn’t give them a clean opportunity.
“That happens, too, but the reality is you’re looking for players who fit, and I told the players the same thing. It’s a two-way street. If it doesn’t work out here, you may fit somewhere else, so this is an opportunity for competition. That’s the theme of the weekend.”
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