For a host of rookies, the road to a spot on the Green Bay Packers’ roster began on Friday. While what they did during the first of two post-draft rookie orientation camp practices won’t decide their fates, coach Mike McCarthy believes a good start is vital for them all.
All eyes were on the team’s top two draft pick, Jaire Alexander, a cornerback from Louisville, nfl nike jersey cheap and Josh Jackson, a cornerback from Iowa. The practices included 11 draft picks, 14 undrafted free-agent signees, a handful of players who spent time on the practice squad last season and about a dozen tryout players.
”This is a great opportunity for these guys – and they realize it. It’s a unique opportunity, if you just look at the statistics in the National Football League,” said McCarthy, whose draft-and-develop team has long relied on rookies. ”This is a very important two days, because you have an opportunity to make your roster better. And the better your 90-man roster is, the more competitive offseason program (is). Going into training camp, that’s the goal.”
Alexander, Jackson and third-round pick Oren Burks, a linebacker from Vanderbilt, are joining a defense that finished last season ranked 26th in scoring defense (24.0 points allowed per game) and 22nd in yards allowed (348.9). Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was replaced after nine seasons by Mike Pettine.
While overwhelmed at times with the sliver of the playbook they learned earlier in the day, all three were excited.
”It was quite an experience. It was like, ‘Man, I’m finally here. I’m at Green Bay,”’ Alexander said. ”There was a lot of hard work put into it, I can tell you that much.”
Added Jackson: ”This is what you came here to do. This is what you went through the whole process for, to play football. For me, I’m happy for football again.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale I love the game and I’m just excited to be here.”
After finishing last season 23rd against the pass (236.8), 28th in third-down defense (allowing a 42.8 percent conversion rate) and 31st in red-zone defense (allowing a 65.2 percent touchdown rate), the Packers are counting on Alexander and Jackson to be ready.
The team brought back veteran cornerbacks Tramon Williams, who played for Pettine in Cleveland after spending his first eight NFL seasons in Green Bay, and Davon House, but McCarthy and Pettine want a deep, faster rotation at corner. Alexander and Jackson, along with 2017 second-round pick Kevin King, should provide that.