Pads revealing for Packers rookie Spriggs

Pete Dougherty
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Jason Spriggs went to school in his first NFL practice in pads Thursday.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Lerentee McCray (55) battles offensive lineman Jason Spriggs (78) during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field July 28, 2016.

As my colleague Tom Silverstein noted in another story, the Green Bay Packers’ second-round draft pick this year was schooled by Julius Peppers on a play in 11-on-11. Peppers would have sacked backup quarterback Brett Hundley if tackling were allowed.

Spriggs also had his first go in one-on-one pass-rushing drills, and though one-and-ones aren’t the be-all and end-all of pass rushing and blocking, it did illuminate his likely strengths and weaknesses at the start of his NFL career.

For background, after general manager Ted Thompson traded a fourth-round pick to move up nine places (No. 57 to No. 48) to select Spriggs in the second round this year, I called a couple of scouts in the league to get their assessment of Spriggs from his college career at Indiana. Both described him as athletic and long (6-5 5/8 at the NFL scouting combine), but in need of more strength (301 pounds) so he could anchor better against power rushes.

The first day of one-on-ones suggested they had it about right. Spriggs took four reps, and on two of them he was knocked off balance on the initial hit, enough that it looked like he was going to be beaten badly. But he recovered quickly enough to stay in the fray, and arguably won both reps.

“Getting beat initially showed the what-I-need-to-work-on side of it,” Spriggs said. “Being able to work on it, that’s something that I always prided myself on. The goal is to not have to recover.”

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Spriggs’ toughest one-on-one rep was against Nick Perry, who is a powerful bull rusher on the outside. Perry jolted him with his initial charge and might have let up some after the hit. Still, Spriggs’ recovery reminded me a little of center Corey Linsley, who in his first camp two years ago showed uncommonly quick recovery ability from Day 1 of padded work.

“My take on it is (Spriggs) is finding himself right now,” Perry said. “He can solid up when necessary, but I’ve got a lot of power, so it’s really hard to take that on (for any tackle) with me going in a bull rush setting. He’ll be fine.”

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