Insider: Thumbs up to Gunter, down to Abbrederis
Cornerback LaDarius Gunter stood out as much as any of the Packers’ undrafted rookies in offseason practices, and that carried over to the first day of training camp in Thursday’s non-padded practice. Gunter’s day wasn’t an unmitigated success, but he made maybe the most impressive play of the day when he intercepted an Aaron Rodgers fade route to Jared Abbrederis in team drills.
As has already been well chronicled in his short time with the Packers, Gunter went undrafted primarily because he ran incredibly poorly in physical tests — his 4.69-second 40 was the slowest of all 14 cornerbacks who ran at the NFL scouting combine this year. But he has good height (6-feet-11/2) and size (202 pounds) for his position and appears to be a technically sound.
“That boy is long,” nickel cornerback Micah Hyde said. “Really good at press (coverage), gets his hands on everyone. He’s out there making plays — he was doing that in springtime, too. I enjoy watching him. He had a nice pick today. I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. He’s good.”
Not long after the interception, Gunter experienced the up-and-down life of an NFL cornerback when he gave up two completions for big yardage. One was a 30-yard seam route from Rodgers to Myles White that went for about 30 yards. The other was an out pattern to fellow undrafted rookie Larry Pinkard, who turned and took the ball up field for a good gain after Gunter came up short on his attempt to play the ball.
The Packers have to be concerned about Abbrederis’ durability after he couldn’t finish the first practice of training camp because of a new injury.
The second-year receiver is coming back from a torn ACL sustained in the first week of camp last year and was injured in Thursday’s non-padded practice when he fell hard on the play that Gunter intercepted Rodgers. Abbrederis dropped out of the workout and was taken to the locker room before practice ended.
A source confirmed that the injury isn’t related to Abbrederis’ knee, and coach Mike McCarthy suggested it might be to the receiver’s tailbone, judging by the way he hit the ground. McCarthy had no other information, so there was no indication whether Abbrederis will be back quickly or perhaps sidelined for a while.
But considering that Abbrederis already had injury issues when the Packers drafted him in the fifth round last year — he reportedly sustained at least two concussions at Wisconsin, plus had an offseason foot surgery in 2012 — this latest ailment will raise red flags if he misses more than a couple of days.
Though some players sustain injuries early in their careers and end up playing for years, others’ bodies just don’t hold up.
Did you notice?
■ When Clay Matthews played outside linebacker with the No. 1 defense Thursday — he switched off working inside and outside in both the base and nickel personnel groups — Nate Palmer lined up with the starters at inside linebacker alongside Sam Barrington. That means that at least for the start of camp, Palmer is ahead of second-year pro Carl Bradford and fourth-round draft pick Jake Ryan at inside linebacker. Palmer and Bradford moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker last year.
■ The gunners for the No. 1 punt-cover team were cornerback Demetri Goodson and receiver Jeff Janis.
■ Mason Crosby went 6-for-8 in a live field-goal drill Thursday, with misses from 40 yards and 45 yards, and makes ranging from 33 yards to 50 yards.
■ The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits teams from practicing in pads the first two days of training camp, so the Packers’ first padded practice will be Saturday.
■ Former Packers safety Charlie Peprah is working this summer as an intern in the team’s scouting department.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.