Camp Insider: Rookie CB Hawkins delivers

Bob McGinn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers cornerback Josh Hawkins (28) during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field July 26, 2016.

Several months ago, a personnel man for an NFC team summed up East Carolina cornerback Josh Hawkins this way: “As a free agent, you’re not going to get too many guys that can move like him. Has a ton of talent and movement skills, but I question his toughness and instincts.” On Sunday night, Hawkins showed off his 4.39-second speed by blowing off the edge against center JC Tretter and blocking an extra-point attempt by Mason Crosby. On Wednesday night, Hawkins was one of the most impressive players in the first one-on-one’s of camp matching wide receivers and cornerbacks. The rookie free agent did a terrific job mirroring Herb Waters, earned a draw with tight coverage of Ed Williams and then covered extremely well in a victory over Williams. Hawkins played mostly zone coverage as a 2 ½-year starter for the Pirates but has taken to the Packers’ mostly-man scheme. Obviously, he’s learning, giving up touchdown passes of about 10 yards to Jamel Johnson on Wednesday night and 15 yards to Geronimo Allison on Thursday night. His height (5-10 ½) can be an issue against tall receivers like them. But Hawkins is a competitive player, and with his speed you never know how far that might take him.

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In an extremely crowded field at outside linebacker, Jayrone Elliott should be expected to rush more effectively than he has in the first eight practices. There were no one-on-one’s Thursday night so Elliott’s next chance will be the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday. Two years ago, Elliott led the NFL in exhibition-game sacks with five. In that rookie season, his record of 4-4-2 (.500) in the one-on-one drill tied for the best among nine outside linebackers. Last year, he went 3-9-3 (.300) to tie for sixth among nine players. This year, Elliott is lagging the field with an 0-9 mark. He’s 0-6 against rookie tackle Kyle Murphy, a sixth-round draft choice. Elliott finished last season at 245 pounds because he hoped to improve his speed covering kickoffs. He reported at 255 this summer in an effort to stop the run and help with some pass-rush techniques. It’s important for him to start beating people again.

Injury report

RB Eddie Lacy whiffed against inside linebacker Beniquez Brown on Wednesday in the first one-on-one blitz drill of camp. It might have been one of his last snaps in practice because of an ankle injury that caused him to sit out Thursday as well.

New to the injury list was nose tackle Demetris Anderson (ankle). Tackle Bryan Bulaga was back after being rested Wednesday. Quarterback AaronRodgers was given Thursday off. Defensive end Mike Daniels returned.

Bits and pieces

The Packers released a roster with two No. 45s: Inside linebackers Derrick Mathews and Manoa Pikula. It’s likely they’re making a roster move with Pikula, who suffered a hamstring injury July 28 and hasn’t returned.

When the rest of the defensive linemen departed Wednesday night after an abbreviated 2-hour practice, defensive end Mike Pennel stayed around and ran a pair of gassers across the field and back. Facing a four-game suspension, the 335-pound Pennel is working on his conditioning.

Quarterback Joe Callahan scrambled effectively Thursday night, threw a couple touchdown passes and found Williams for one of his first long completions of camp.

Julius Peppers probably has taken more snaps at tackle in the four-man sub rush than at any other position and in any other defense this summer. The No. 1 rush line on passing downs throughout camp has been Clay Matthews and Nick Perry outside with Daniels joining Peppers inside.

Cornerback Demetri Goodson played a pair of take-off routes extremely well in the one-on-one’s Wednesday. Two of the fastest wide receivers, Jeff Janis and Harvey Binford, weren’t able to pull away from Goodson and the long passes fell incomplete.

Quote of the day 

“Obviously, he’s our leader out there.  He’s our best special teams player. Always comes with an attitude. He’s like a coach on the field.” Special teams coach Ron Zook, on safety Chris Banjo.


Friday, no practice. Saturday, practice closed.

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