Itís only a week into training camp, but it looks like the Packers are better on the defensive line than last year, mainly because of Mike Daniels and Datone Jones.
Daniels at only 6 feet tall is a little sawed off, so I donít think heíll be a long-term starter, but he could be a good situational guy. He looks like a second-year player should. He understands the defense, so he can play football and not think. He plays with great pad level, and heís explosive.
Last year I thought some of Danielsí pass-rush moves were mechanical, but at least he was rarely out of position or driven back in the run game. Now heís an up-and-coming guy.
Iím going to go on a limb and say heíll be better than Jerel Worthy, who was picked in the second round last year, whereas Daniels was a fourth-rounder. Daniels has a much better motor than Worthy, whoís still out while recovering from knee-reconstruction surgery. Worthy gets stuck in a move and thereís no counter move. If Danielsí first move doesnít work he has a counter.
Then thereís, Jones, the Packersí first-round pick this year. He looks like the real deal as a nickel pass rusher. Heís explosive, he has really good feet and he has speed.
Also, Jones works his hands well for a rookie. Thatís the hardest thing for young guys coming into the NFL, because their feet and power overwhelmed offensive linemen in college, and they could get away with being sloppy with their hands. In the NFL you have to be technically sound ó it doesnít matter who you are. Jones gets a little high and tries to peek over the line sometimes, but that can get cleaned up. Itís not like he doesnít bend his knees or doesnít have the athletic ability to do it.
Jolly good show
Johnny Jolly is trying to come back at age 30 after missing three seasons because of an NFL suspension. Earlier in the week he was running all over the place, but Wednesday was his fifth practice of training camp and third in pads, and he looked out of shape.
Thatís what happens to guys who are out of shape. The first day or two they look like hell on fire and then they plateau. He has some of the same skills he had before the suspension, but whether heíll make that one big play a game remains to be seen. Heís going to have to play himself into shape here quickly.
Odds and ends
ē Outside linebacker Nick Perry played in only the first six games last year before a wrist injury ended his season, and itís easy to forget his power and ability to neutralize blockers. Well, early in camp itís clear tight ends are going to have a hard time blocking this guy. Heís a powerful human being, and if he gets his hands inside, good night, heís going to drive a tight end back into the hole. Even tackles are going to have problems with his power. Thatís in the run game.
As a pass rusher, Perry has to develop a move off his bull rush. His bull rush gets things done, but if he wants to turn it up he needs some counter moves with his hands and quick moves off the edge.
ē Fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari has looked good at tackle. A lot of people say quarterback and wide receiver are the most difficult positions to play as a rookie, but offensive line is right there, too. You have to know all the calls and whatís happening next to you and behind you, and when your head is spinning about that itís hard to take on a guy whoís 300 pounds and snortiní mad.
In team periods, Bakhtiari is showing good feet and good pad level, and he gets his hands inside and locks up defensive linemen. He also seems a little feisty. Thatís something the team needs. He needs to finish a little better, and right now itís only basic stuff, so the bigger test will come against blitzes and stunts, when he has to make adjustments on the fly. But the basic football stuff, he has some ability.
ē Undrafted Jonathan Amosa (5-11, 247) looks good on the hoof and could push John Kuhn for the fullback job. Amosa has a solid build and heís quick. When they were working on the back-shoulder pass in practice he showed some body control catching the ball.
Itís going to come down to whoís better in the passing game and can pick up blitzes, because the Packers donít have to rely on the 30-year-old Kuhn in the short-yardage game now that they have second-round pick Eddie Lacy.