Packers Camp Insider: Jaire Alexander turns heads with interception of Aaron Rodgers
» Jaire Alexander’s first interception of training camp, against Aaron Rodgers no less, brought to mind Sam Shields in his rookie training camp in 2010. Shields was an undrafted rookie in ‘10 when he turned heads early in camp with several interceptions on which he showed uncommon quickness breaking on the ball. This isn’t a prediction that Alexander will turn out be as good as Shields – Shields was in a class by himself in straight-line speed. But on a Rodgers throw to Randall Cobb over the middle, Alexander, the Packers’ first-round pick, showed the same kind of quickness when he cut in front of Cobb and made the interception.
“I’m pretty sure (Cobb) had some kind of option route, whether he’d go inside or outside, and I just had a pretty good break on it,” Alexander said after practice. “I’m pretty quick with my break, so I exploded out and I made a play on the ball.”
Alexander is in the running for a starting job in the Packers’ nickel defense, which they likely will play on at least two-thirds of their defensive snaps. Kevin King presumably will start at one cornerback, and there’s a good chance Tramon Williams be a starter in the nickel is well. The third spot figures to come down to Alexander, Davon House or second-round pick Josh Jackson. House worked in the top three in the offseason and the start of camp, but if Alexander makes a couple more plays like this in team drills, it would be tough to keep him off the field in the opener.
» Jason Spriggs is bigger than last season, but that hasn’t necessarily shown up in his play so far. Spriggs took the majority of snaps with the starters at right tackle in place of Bryan Bulaga (PUP) the first three days of camp, but after the first day of pads Saturday, Kyle Murphy and Byron Bell on Monday were working regularly in rotation with Spriggs with the No. 1 offense.
Coach Mike McCarthy said at the start of camp that he expects Bulaga to be ready to play by the opener. But finding an adequate backup is crucial in case Bulaga isn't ready for Week 1.
» Vince Biegel committed a big no-no when he hit No. 4 quarterback Tim Boyle’s arm as the undrafted rookie started his throwing motion. The play caused a fumble, but quarterbacks aren’t to be touched by defensive players because of the risk of injury, including to the hand or arm on that kind of play.
Biegel got a chewing out from McCarthy immediately after the play but said he didn’t intend to hit the ball or Boyle’s arm.
“Kind of instinctual, put my hand out,” Biegel said. “I always try to stay away from the quarterback, always want to practice smart, but it’s not something I was intentionally trying to do. … Got to be better there.”
The defensive backs got their hands on more Rodgers’ passes than usual Monday. It’s probably a sign that the Packers have improved their talent in the secondary with King’s return from a shoulder injury, the drafting of Alexander and Jackson in the first two rounds this year and signing Williams in the offseason. Besides Alexander’s interception, King had a breakup and near interception of a Rodgers back-shoulder throw to Davante Adams in a two-minute drill. Also, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted Rodgers twice, though one was on the final play of the two-minute, when Rodgers rolled left with the ball at the 22 as the clock ran out and fired a desperation pass to Cobb in the end zone that caromed off Cobb and safety Josh Jones to Clinton-Dix.
Bits and pieces
» McCarthy cut practice short because of lightning. Early camp practices generally run about 2 ½ hours, but after lightning flashed in the background late in Monday’s workout, the Packers ran one more play and then McCarthy called it quits, about 2 hours and 2 minutes in.
» Adams made the best catch of camp so far when matched against House in a one-on-one drill. Adams was about 20 yards downfield along the right sideline and a la Odell Beckham Jr., reached up and snagged the ball with one hand, which drew a roar from the crowd.
S Kentrell Brice and linebacker Jake Ryan were carted off the field with apparent serious injuries. DL Mike Daniels left in the middle of practice with an unidentified injury, returned to the field with his helmet but didn’t take any more snaps. RB Aaron Jones (hamstring tightness), OL Alex Light (ankle) and LB C.J. Johnson (hamstring) didn’t practice.
Quote of the day
Linebacker Oren Burks, a third-round draft pick, on his first NFL training camp: “Just the small details of the game, they mean so much more. When you realize the repercussions of not doing the little things, you realize there are no little things.”
The next practice is at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at Ray Nitschke Field.