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Friday, May 30, 2014
Seen and heard at Packers OTAs

By Rob Demovsky

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here is a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' first open OTA session of the offseason:

1. Coach Mike McCarthy is not handing any starting jobs to the rookies this year. There wasn't a single draft pick who worked with the starters on offense or defense, not even first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. That is a change in philosophy, especially at safety. In 2010, when the Packers filled a glaring hole at safety by drafting Morgan Burnett in the third round, Burnett worked with the starters from Day 1.

Hyde
2. Part of the reason for easing Clinton-Dix into the lineup is Micah Hyde. The coaches want to take a long look at Hyde in the safety position after he played mostly the nickel or dime (slot cornerback) position last season, so it should not have been a major surprise to see Hyde get the first shot with the starters.

3. Bryan Bulaga's return from the ACL reconstruction that kept him out all of last season appears to be on schedule. He was back on the practice field and working as the No. 1 right tackle a little more than 10 months after he blew out his left knee during the annual Family Night scrimmage last August. Bulaga wore a large brace but did not appear to be limited.

4. Speaking of offensive tackles, former first-round pick Derek Sherrod is going through the full offseason program, which began April 22, for the first time in his four-year NFL career. The broken leg he suffered as a rookie kept him out at this time of the year in both 2012 and 2013. He worked mostly as the No. 2 left tackle.

5. We know the Packers liked what they saw from linebacker Jamari Lattimore in a backup role last season. Otherwise, they would not have made him a $1.431 million restricted free agent offer (which he has yet to sign). Now, it appears they want him on the field more. He played a variety of roles in practice and appears to have slimmed down.

6. The two early candidates for newest fan favorites are receiver Jared Abbrederis and tight end Colt Lyerla. They drew some of the loudest cheers from the crowd that watched practice. It should be no surprise that Abbrederis was well received given that he grew up in Wisconsin and played for the Badgers. But the response to Lyerla, the troubled former Oregon tight end who went undrafted because of off-the-field concerns, was a bit more surprising.

7. Rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis showed off his speed (he ran a 4.42 40 at the combine) when he caught a deep ball during a team (11-on-11) period.

8. Five players were present but did not practice. They were: running back Johnathan Franklin, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and tight end Brandon Bostick. Franklin (neck), Matthews (thumb) and Bostick (foot) all were coming of injuries that kept them out late last season.

9. Three players were not present. They were: receiver Davante Adams, defensive tackle Khyri Thornton and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Adams and Thornton were in Los Angeles to take part in the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event. No reason was given for Worthy's absence, although according to a Dayton, Ohio television report, Worthy's grandmother was in critical condition after being accidentally shot.

10. There were two new elements to practice. The first was a new drill called "team takeaway" in which defensive players practiced intercepting the ball with an offensive player in the vicinity. It's likely a direct response to the fact that the Packers forced only 22 turnovers -- fewer than all but six teams last season. Also, music was played during some team periods. Last year, music was played only during what were called "TV timeouts" for water breaks.

The next OTA session open to fans (weather permitting) and reporters (rain or shine) is Tuesday.