Insider: Thumbs up to Randall, down to Hundley
Damarious Randall probably is the most talented of the Packers’ rookie cornerbacks, though second-round pick Quinten Rollins actually played better in offseason practices and undrafted LaDarius Gunter had the better first day of training camp Thursday. But on Friday, Randall made the play of the day and demonstrated the kind of awareness and ball skills that enticed the Packers to draft him in the first round.
On a play in a blitz period, he was matched one-on-one with rookie receiver Jimmie Hunt, who has decent size at 6-feet and 208 pounds. Scott Tolzien lofted a fade, jump-ball type throw, and Hunt leaped and made the apparent high-point catch. But before he could pull the ball to his body, Randall poked it away. Coach Mike McCarthy mentioned the play specifically when asked after practice about the defensive backs’ day.
“It just shows what type of athlete he is, what a great player he can be,” cornerback Casey Hayward said.
With Sam Shields the No. 1 cornerback, the big battle in the secondary in camp is for the Nos. 2 and 3 jobs. Hayward and Micah Hyde remain the best bets, but the Packers drafted Randall and Rollins to push them for playing time.
If Randall can make a play like that every practice or two, he’ll be in the running.
The Packers drafted Brett Hundley in the fifth round as a quarterback project, and early in camp it looks like that’s what he’s going to be. Hundley has been the fourth and final quarterback in the playing rotation, and two days into camp he’s looked raw and thrown enough scattershot passes to suggest he needs a lot of refining.
To be fair, practice presents an incomplete view of Hundley, because running is one of his strengths, and quarterbacks can’t be hit in practice so they rarely run to gain yardage. In a game setting, he likely will pick up some first downs scrambling, plus he’s a potential read-option threat. Still, in team drills on Friday, Hundley missed badly on a couple of incompletions and floated a throw down the middle of the field late on a play that safety Morgan Burnett easily read and intercepted.
“What I’m trying to do here is learn as much as possible,” Hundley said after practice Thursday. “It doesn’t matter if I’m first, second, third or fourth (in the rotation). Everybody’s still going to play, and come preseason everybody’s still going to get the time.”
Though Hundley had a rough day overall, he made good on a throw the quarterbacks drill on every day when he scrambled to his left and threw on the money to receiver Javess Blue along the sideline.
Did you notice?
■ The Packers appear to have a plan to limit left guard Josh Sitton’s workload in camp. He had an injured and slow-healing ligament in his toe that bothered him all last season and also has chronic back issues. On Friday, he took part in individual, group and jog-through drills but didn’t take any team snaps. Don Barclay and Lane Taylor split most of Sitton’s snaps with the No. 1 offense. “Just being smart with him,” McCarthy said.
■ Burnett had two interceptions on the day. The first was on Hundley’s floater over the middle. The second was against Aaron Rodgers, who throws interceptions at the same low rate in practice as he does in games. The sequence started with Rodgers disputing a delay-of-game penalty on the first snap of a no-huddle drill — a stand-alone play clock at the end of the field had expired, which drew the official’s flag, but a play clock on the scoreboard still had time. After the re-set, Rodgers threw to Jordy Nelson on a slant, but Hayward broke quickly on the ball and caused a deflection that Burnett caught. “Casey made a great play on the ball,” Burnett said. “As a safety, we have the motto, ‘You always get the tips and the overthrows.’ ”
■ During a punt-return period, neither Ty Montgomery nor Jeff Janis worked as return men. Instead, they worked as line-of-scrimmage players who can rush or block — Janis with the No. 1 return unit and Montgomery with the No. 2. The Packers drafted Montgomery in the third round in part because of his return abilities, though they might view him as more of a kickoff returner than punt returner. He had a 25.2-yard average on 27 kickoff returns at Stanford, and a 19.8-yard average on 12 punt returns. The six players catching punts were Hyde, Randall Cobb, Blue, Larry Pinkard, Raijon Neal and Hunt.
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