GREEN BAY – After drafting Darnell Savage Jr. in the first round of the NFL draft in late April, and even after claiming Mike Tyson off waivers from Houston in early May, the Green Bay Packers remained relatively thin at the safety position through the spring workouts and into the first half of training camp.
Natrell Jamerson and Will Redmond, traditional corners, were being cross-trained to work in the back end of the secondary along with Adrian Amos, Josh Jones and Raven Greene.
While the Packers went about their business within 1265 Lombardi Ave., Ibraheim Campbell was never far from the club – quite literally. The 27-year-old, fifth-year safety tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 13 last year against Arizona and the Packers’ team doctors performed the surgery. He remained in Green Bay until the regular season ended and then as part of his rehab he had been back to several times in the offseason.
So when it became clear he was close to returning to football shape, the Packers signed him.
“Definitely comfort level knowing what you’re stepping into,” Campbell said of his return. “That was definitely working in their favor. It’s kind of an easy decision.”
Campbell, who was drafted by Cleveland in 2015 when Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the head coach, is coming up on nine months out of surgery and is on the team’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list, so he has not yet been cleared to practice.
“Right now, I say I’m waiting on science,” Campbell said. “Just the longer I wait at this point, the lower the statistical rate of re-tear.”
Packers claim a cornerback
Even with linebacker Oren Burks (chest) and fullback Danny Vitale (calf) being sidelined with injuries and the team releasing wide receiver/kick returner Jawill Davis in the past week, the Packers claimed yet another cornerback on waivers Sunday.
The club picked up Derrick Jones from the New York Jets, who are slowly ridding themselves of former general manager Mike Maccagnan’s 2017 draft picks. A sixth-round selection that year, Jones is a converted wide receiver from the University of Mississippi. According to a report on his release from the New York Post, Jones had slipped to third string on the Jets’ depth chart and had been dealing with a knee issue in camp. Jones, listed at 6-2 and 188 pounds, appeared in one game for the Jets last season.
Jones made the switch to corner while at Mississippi and during his pro day in 2017 he ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and posted a 41-inch vertical and 11-foot, 8-inch broad jump. He caught 11 passes in his college career while making 27 total tackles and two interceptions.
There now 10 corners listed on the roster, though Kevin King and Kabion Ento are dealing with hamstring injuries and Josh Jackson just returned from a foot ailment.
Taylor responds to challenge
In the preseason opener, Lane Taylor was conspicuously the only starting offensive lineman to play against the Texans. He logged just 16 snaps, but afterward head coach Matt LaFleur said the seventh-year guard was in a competition for his job.
Following fully padded practices Saturday and Sunday, LaFleur felt the 29-year-old has responded.
“I thought he had a really good game,” LaFleur said. “He didn't play a whole bunch, but I thought he had a really good game, just how he's come out and practiced. He's definitely answered that bell and he's done a nice job.”
Pankey working into tackle rotation
In 2017, Adam Pankey came out of West Virginia at 324 pounds, having played games at left tackle and inside at guard – and well enough to be an All-Big 12 second-team pick at right guard. Since signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent that year, the 25-year-old has been on the practice squad with a couple cups of coffee on the active roster at the end of the last two seasons.
Heading into this year, with a new coaching staff and blocking scheme, Pankey is down to 310 pounds and has been getting extended looks at left and right tackle.
“I feel great, moving really well, I’m more balanced,” he said. “I feel good. Just working on that technique, keeping the leaning out of there, trying to fine-tune some stuff. Watching Dave (Bakhtiari) and Bryan (Bulaga) and just trying to take a third-year step here.”
With Jason Spriggs on injured reserve, the backup tackle position is down to Alex Light, Gerhard de Beer and Pankey.
“It’s kind of just got me going a little bit more knowing it’s something we’re needing,” Pankey said. “I’m just up for any position on the team. I’m learning my guard stuff still, I’m trying to get my technique at guard down and I just want to be ready to go wherever.”
Amos headed home
Nothing will top Adrian Amos’ first homecoming to Baltimore in 2017 when he scored his first NFL touchdown as a member of the Chicago Bears. But, Thursday night’s game at M&T Stadium in Maryland will be special nonetheless for Amos, who will have family and friends in attendance.
His “I’m Still Here Foundation” is also based in Baltimore.
“It’s just always exciting to get back, to go home and play,” said the Packers safety.
Amos was one of many defensive starters who will be seeing his first action of the preseason.
“It’s a different feeling out on the field and get under the lights against a different team and start to build what we want for this season,” he said.