The Packers began the third and final phase of their off-season program this week with the commencement of the organized team activities. After a fundamental focused practice Monday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy had the squad on Clark Hinkle Field for just over two hours mid-day Tuesday in front of a couple hundred rail birds peering through the Oneida Street fence. It was the first practice for the veterans with the incoming class of draft picks and rookie free agents. Afterward's McCarthy admitted it got a bit disjointed but overall, was happy with the tempo and enthusiasm. At one point, it got a bit overenthusiastic. During one of the final team drills, scuffles broke out on consecutive plays. I didn't see who was involved in the first dust-up, but on the second snap, Bryan Bulaga and number one pick Datone Jones got tangled up before being pulled apart.
Figured it wouldn't take long for bad injury news after the past couple of seasons and McCarthy announced offensive lineman J.C. Tretter, a 4th round pick, won't be available for the rest of the OTA's with an injury he declined to reveal. Several other players were in shorts and jersies but are either coming back from or still nursing injuries. That list included Davon House, Desmond Bishop, Ryan Pickett, Jerel Worthy, Dezmon Moses, Sean Richardson, Derrick Sherrod, DuJuan Harris and draft pick receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey.
We got our first look at the musical chairs offensive line. It was odd seeing Bulaga at left tackle, Josh Sitton at left guard, T.J. Lang at right guard and the right tackle job was being split between Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay. After practice, all of the principals were ready for the challenge of learning new positions. Newhouse told me the coaching staff wouldn't have made the drastic revolving changes without having confidence in the players' ability to pull it off. They all said they have spent extra time on the most basic fundamentals such as stance, hand placement and other techniques. Sitton admitted the blocking scheme calls are reversed, the recognition will be different but there'll be plenty of time to bring it all together.
The defense lined up in nickel and dime formations much of the day and here's how the unit looked. On the line, it was B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels, the linebackers were Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk and Nick Perry. The secondary consisted of Morgan Burnett, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush and M.D. Jennings. The unit obviously hasn't forgotten what happened at Candlestick Park last January. On a couple of plays, the offense lined up in the pistol formation and served up another taste of the read option. Colin Kaepernick's read option still has some playoff aftertaste. Matthews said with another game against the 49ers on the schedule this fall, not to mention RGIII with Washington and Chip Kelly likely to bring a variation to Philadelphia, the defense will spend a lot of time working against the newest NFL offensive trend.
Still no sign of Johnny Jolly. The Packers are willing to give the suspended defensive tackle another shot after serving time on drug charges. He hasn't played since the end of the 2010 season but McCarthy said Tuesday Jolly still hasn't completed unknown details clearing the way for his return after gaining league reinstatement earlier this year.
The team has two more public workouts over the next couple of weeks before the mandatory mini-camp in early June.