Datone Jones has dropped from 295 pounds at the end of last season to 275 this year in his move to playing predominantly at outside linebacker/elephant end, and it’s showing in his pass rush.
Jones looks a little quicker off the ball and had a couple of big plays at the Packers’ Family Night practice Sunday night at Lambeau Field. That included two sacks in team drills.
One of the sacks was early in practice, when he beat guard Matt Rotheram to sack Brett Hundley. On the other Jones beat guard Lucas Patrick to get to Hundley on the final play of a two-minute drill with the offense in scoring position at the 10-yard line in the final seconds. That’s a play that wins a game, though it was against an undrafted rookie.
Jones also had another possible sack, or at worst a pressure, against Don Barclay on a third down in a team drill.
Jones also made a play early in practice in a half-line drill when he threw aside tight end Richard Rodgers to blow up a running play.
Jones has become something of a niche player in the NFL as a situational outside lineman, and he appears to be best suited to play at 275, which his nearer his college weight, than when he was trying to be more of an interior player in the mid-290s.
The Packers’ No. 3 receiver job is there for the taking, but as the first week of training camp wraps up, neither of the primary candidates, Davante Adams and Jeff Janis, has done anything to seize the position.
On Sunday night, Adams looked like he was on his way to his best practice of camp after catching a big gainer behind cornerback LaDarius Gunter in one team drill.
Adams had a shot at another big play down the sideline against cornerback Robertson Daniel, and the play was ruled incomplete by the NFL officials working the practice because Daniel apparently stripped the ball out at the final instant.
Regardless, Adams has been up and down in camp, and his day Sunday was marred by two big drops in a two-minute drill with the No. 1 offense at the end of practice. One was a blatant drop early in the drive on what would have been a big gain. The other was on a falling/diving attempt after he’d broken wide open for what would have been a 27-yard touchdown. The second would have been a tough catch, but Adams appeared to get both hands on it.
Janis had mostly an uneventful night, though he also dropped a tough touchdown catch during a team drill. On that play, Hundley tried to hit him with a back-shoulder fade for a 14-yard score. It would have been a difficult catch because Janis had to reach back for the ball, but he had both hands on it and couldn’t secure the grab.
Tackle Josh James didn’t practice for undisclosed reasons. Linebacker Manoa Pikula (hamstring) missed a second straight practice.
Bits and pieces
» Barclay is getting work all across the offensive line as a utility player. He has played center and guard most of the time but took a few snaps at left tackle Sunday night. He had a couple tough plays in pass protection. One was the sack/pressure he gave up to Jones while playing tackle, and the other was a sack/pressure he allowed on undrafted rookie Brian Price’s bull rush.
» Outside linebacker Reggie Gilbert, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, made a couple of plays to draw some notice Sunday night. He had a sack of quarterback Marquise Williams, and in a display of downfield athleticism intercepted Williams while covering tight end Mitchell Henry in the back of the end zone.
» Family Night drew a crowd of 66,397 spectators to Lambeau Field.
Quote of the day
“(The Family Night crowd) was unbelievable. I remember going back to my Stanford practices, we’d probably have, our open practices, maybe 10 to 30 people out there. And to come out and walk out and have (66,000), it was unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever had that many at an actual game. So it was a great feeling, and it was fun to get out there and get that atmosphere under my belt.” – Packers rookie linebacker Blake Martinez, a fourth-round draft pick.
Practice begins Monday at 6:15 p.m. There is no practice Tuesday.