The Packers took a chance in mid-April, re-signing Don Barclay for a year at $700,000. They were betting that another year removed from reconstructive knee surgery would help him. They figured it was worth a shot that Barclay would be the competent performer who started 21 games in 2012-'13 and not the wholly ineffective player of a year ago. Early returns show that GM Ted Thompson made the right move. Playing all five positions, Barclay is off to a noteworthy start. On Monday night, he earned a draw with NT Kenny Clark and beat DE Mike Pennel as a center in the one-on-one drill before stopping the bull rush of OLB Datone Jones from right tackle to earn another decision. It improved his record to 7-2-1 in three installments of the pass-rush drill. He’s 2-0 against DE Mike Daniels, 3-0 against Jones. When the Packers ran one-on-one’s in the run game, Barclay earned a stalemate against Pennel. Perhaps his best block of the practice came in a double-team situation when he was paired with G Lucas Patrick against NT Demetris Anderson. The rep ended with Barclay driving his feet and depositing Anderson flat on his back. Matt Rotheram, a center-guard, hasn’t been anywhere near as impressive as Barclay. Barring injury, it will be difficult to keep Barclay from a fifth season in Green Bay.
TE Kennard Backman, a sixth-round draft choice from Alabama-Birmingham in 2015, has had more than his share of reps with former Ram Jared Cook observing practice each day in a bucket hat recovering from foot surgery. There’s pressure from within every NFL organization for players to elevate their games in the second season. Despite the exposure, Backman has had a slow first week. On Sunday night at Lambeau Field, he jumped in against OLB Lerentee McCray early in practice during a brief one-on-one run-blocking drill. McCray trashed Backman. He also dropped a pass in front of the large crowd. On Monday night, he had another drop. He recovered to make a contested intermediate catch from Brett Hundley in a blitz period. There’s little question that Justin Perillo has been far more productive than Backman and, minus Cook, has been the second-best tight end. Free agents Mitchell Henry and Casey Pierce have been at about the same level as Backman as well. The extra fifth exhibition game is critical for someone like Backman. With Hundley expected to thrive in the summer game, there should be opportunities galore for Backman in the flats and downfield. How he responds probably will determine his future.
After almost an injury-free first four practices the Packers began losing people Sunday and Monday nights. Sitting out Monday with problems from the Lambeau event were RB James Starks (cramping), S Kentrell Brice (shin) and S Jermaine Whitehead (shoulder). Two players, CB Makinton Dorleant (hamstring) and RB Brandon Burks (leg), left Monday night and didn’t return. T Josh James (hamstring) sat out the last two practices. Meanwhile, G T.J. Lang (shoulder) was in full uniform for the first time but didn’t participate.
BITS AND PIECES
» You’ve got to like the way SS Morgan Burnett practices. Day in, day out, he’s all business. He’s also extremely physical, at least as physical as one can be in the “thud” tempo of a modern-day workout.
» FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix bungled an easy chance for an interception. Picks have been few and far between because of all the drops and disciplined quarterback play.
» After some uneven practices, WR Davante Adams thrilled the large crowd for the first night session at Nitschke Field. He took a long bomb away from flat-footed CB Sam Shields before winning a 50-yard jump ball over CB Quinten Rollins. Then Jeff Janis got into the act, somehow coming away with a long heave in a three-man tussle with SS Chris Banjo and CB Robertson Daniel.
» The Packers have excused LG Josh Sitton from one-on-one’s to reduce the wear and tear. When Sitton jumped into the individual run drill, he fell off Daniels.
» Josh Walker, the massive guard, began taking reps at tackle as well as guard over the weekend.
» LT Jason Spriggs zipped through the one-on-one’s with a 3-0 record. A short time later, Spriggs’ deficiencies as a run blocker cropped up when he got rag-dolled by Pennel in a one-on-one.
» WR Jared Abbrederis ended up in the backfield on the second snap of the practice and carried up the middle on a handoff from Aaron Rodgers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We had no questions, which is normal when we go to training camp. Because that makes the meeting last longer.” – NFL referee Walt Coleman, who along with other officials recently met with the Packers’ players.
No practice Tuesday. Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.