Every year, in every training camp, there are surprises and disappointments. Green Bay is no different. These past two weeks, some guys have really stood out, both with high caliber play, and with play that makes you scratch your head. Let’s take a look at the surprises and disappointments from Packers camp.
A lot has been said about Montgomery so far on this site, and it is all well-deserved. He has picked up the playbook quickly despite missing a large portion of OTAs and has separated himself from guys like Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis for the 4th receiver spot. Throw in the fact that he has been sure-handed and been solid in kick return drills gives him a huge edge. He also has been hard-working on the field, asking questions of the veterans and showing his intelligence with his adjustments.
Nate Palmer/Andy Mulumba
Both linebackers have been revelations so far and both have an inside track on roster spots as of this point, especially having been on the roster in the past. Palmer has started to take reps with the first team with Clay Matthews out and Mulumba has been a shining star in individual drills, especially coming back from injury. Preseason could tell a different story, but these two are on a great track.
The second year center was a revelation last season and he has only gotten better so far in camp. In pass protection drills he has been dominant, consistently matching up with the nose tackles, and his strength is apparent. His battles with BJ Raji have been legend so far and he looks to move up into the top echelon of centers in 2015.
What has been said about the undrafted rookie has all been true. He has shined on the outside, making play after play while still being positionally sound. He does need some work with his backpedal and his speed, but that can be developed with guys like Sam Shields leading the way. I am extremely excited for this young man to develop in Green Bay.
Let’s get this one out of the way. Abbrederis needs to get back on the field to have a chance. He had his rookie year wrecked by an injury and now he is currently out of the picture with a concussion. He has the talent, we all saw it in Madison, but for him to be a member of the Packers, he needs to get back on the field. If he can do that, he has a good chance to stick as a slot receiver and a potential punt returner.
Hayward hasn’t necessarily been a disappointment in the traditional sense as he has been a solid player in camp, but for a guy who was ranked so high by the analytics community and is looking for an extension, he has been off and on. He has shown flashes of the big play ability that makes him so exciting, but he has struggled in press coverage and with recovery. He will be a good player this season, but I expect more from a guy that talented.
Much like Abbrederis, I have high hopes for Crockett. A workhorse at North Dakota State and many people’s favorite to make it as the third running back, Crockett just got on the field Friday after starting on the PUP list. He needs to catch up quickly with guys like Rajion Neal starting to emerge.
Bradford was supposed to be the second team middle linebacker with Jake Ryan while also holding down special teams units but he hasn’t shown a thing in camp so far. He has fallen to the third team behind Nate Palmer and the quickness that he had in college hasn’t shown yet. With the emergence of guys like Palmer, he needs to pick it up or he may be another Terrell Manning.
Finally, we get to another linebacker who had strong word of mouth coming into camp. Word was that the team loved him last preseason before an injury hit. He was brought back to the practice squad, and some writers had him penciled not only into a roster spot but potentially to get significant playing time on the defense. Now I haven’t heard much from him so far, and that is what worries me. For a guy who people are so high on, he hasn’t shined in camp like he did at times last season.
Now I know that it is early, and there’s a lot of camp left, but these have been my reactions so far. I will make some more in the coming weeks and I hope to see all of these guys become the players we all know they can be. If we have learned anything over the past decade it’s that a great coach can only help, and we have one of the greatest currently.——————
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.