We are just a few practices in to training camp, but for the Packers heads are being turned already. Before camp opened, a lot of people were looking at some of the second year guys to start turning heads after last season.
The two guys who were supposed to step up were Demetri Goodson and Carl Bradford. But while neither had been great, Goodson still has time with the depth at corner slim. But Bradford could be in serious danger of losing his roster spot due to the emergence of two guys who no one gave serious thought to.
Neither player has been highly regarded, coming from a mid-major conference and the FCS, but they each have been stars during camp. The first and most dangerous to Bradford is Nate Palmer. The third year man from Illinois State has made the move inside after two years outside. Coming off a devastating injury last season, Palmer was seen as a bubble prospect at best, but has come to camp with a purpose. Taking the second-team snaps in the middle with Jake Ryan, he has drawn raves from Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers. If he continues this level of play during the preseason, it’ll be hard to see him off the roster, and that means someone like Bradford will be gone.
Joining Palmer as a star of camp has been Andy Mulumba. The undrafted outside linebacker from Eastern Michigan was also seen as a bubble player despite making the team two year ago and getting significant playing time before an injury wrecked his 2014 encore. But he has also come back to turn heads and make the team. One of the stars from Friday and Saturday, he dominated pass rush drills and was very sound in half line drills. The converted defensive end continues his development and looks to be the real deal.
For Bradford, the time is now for the former fourth round pick to step up and show he belongs on this team. During the pre-draft process he was seen as a guy with a non-stop motor and pass rush potential. But he was a disaster outside in last year’s camp before being moved inside and did not play a down over the course of the season. Now, with his move inside he has already dropped into the third unit. He needs to show the potential that he showed at Arizona State to make this team.
With inside linebacker seen as a major weakness coming into camp, the continued progression of Clay Matthews and now the emergence of Palmer has made it into a position that can be a strength.
While both Palmer and Mulumba have been very good in camp, it is still early, so we can’t make any definitive statements as of yet. But both guys have shown the ability to sustain success in training camps past, so we can’t discount this as a fluke. But keep an eye on numbers 51 and 55 throughout camp and the preseason.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.