GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy calls it “carrying your pads,” and the good news about the three highest-profile players in the Green Bay Packers draft class – first-round pick Datone Jones, second-round pick Eddie Lacy and fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin – all passed the coach’s eyeball test in Sunday’s first padded practice of training camp.
“That’s one thing I look for the first time we get in pads. Everybody’s different, everybody’s built differently as far as where players are in their careers and so forth,” McCarthy explained. “(But) you look at the way at they carry their pads and the way they move in pads (as compared to) when they’re running around in helmets. And I thought Datone looked very good, very comfortable. He’s in good shape and I thought he had a good first day just from what I saw.”
McCarthy said the same about his two rookie running backs, who’d flashed their talent during the first two days of camp. The bruising 230-pound Lacy was one of the players most observers wanted to see once the pads came on, and he definitely lived up to his billing, taking and dishing out contact during run plays and when blocking.
“I thought they both carried their pads well,” McCarthy said. “I thought Eddie and Johnathan were both very comfortable. Johnathan had a couple of big runs and a couple plays he was able to be very productive on the second level. I thought those guys were off to a good start.”
What was most impressive about Jones was watching him practice in full pads and not lose a trace of quickness. He had back-to-back 1-on-1 pass rushes where he exploded past Garth Gerhart and Andrew Datko for wins. Later, he beat T.J. Lang, the starting right guard.
“He’s so fast, man, it’s not even funny,” fellow defensive lineman Johnny Jolly said. “He’s looking good, man.”
Said Jones: “When you’re doing one-on-ones, it’s all about setting your pass-rush moves up. If I was always doing finesse moves, then guys won’t start biting on my moves anymore, so you’ve got to change it up.”
In team drills, Jones hasn’t gotten much time with the No. 1 defense in the base alignment, but he’s worked extensively in the No. 1 nickel group alongside B.J. Raji as one of the two down linemen.
“Putting me in nickel with him, we can get after it. He’s a guy that can rush the quarterback, I can rush the quarterback,” Jones said. “They drafted me in the first round for a reason.”
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