Organized team activities for the Green Bay Packers started today and run through the weekend. These are the first four of 10 “voluntary” OTAs, with the other six coming on the following two weekends. Once those are complete, the Packers have a mandatory minicamp on the next weekend before everyone gets their month and a half break prior to the start of training camp in late July.
Ever since Mike McCarthy started conducting the train in 2006, a heavy emphasis has been placed on attending these OTAs. The fact that they are “voluntary” essentially just means that per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the team cannot fine players for missing them. However, nothing in the CBA prevents the team from dropping your ass down the depth chart or looking to trade you to Oakland or Jacksonville for skipping out on these voluntary OTAs.
So, all hands were on deck when the Packers’ first OTA began this morning. Since there is no contact allowed by the CBA, though of course it does happen — see the Dallas Cowboys’ Sean Lee, who already tore his ACL — the OTAs generally tell us little about how the team is going to look for the upcoming season. They’re also generally short of drama. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few things worth being interested in.
Here they are.
1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix — Same as Datone Jones last season, the status and appearance of the first pick in the preceding draft is always a top attention-getter when the OTAs open. Ha Ha has not signed yet, but few draft picks take the ballsy measure of not showing up to the voluntary camps. With the rookie caps currently in place, negotiations mostly just revolve around the payout of the signing bonus, and thus Clinton-Dix largely already knows what his contract is going to look like. Most rookies want to get off on the right foot with their new employer. Not Michael Crabtree, who actually did hold out as a rookie, but he is a mediocre receiver and a jerk according to Richard Sherman, who I generally consider a great judge of character.
Anyway, since he has already attended rookie orientation, there should be no surprises with Clinton-Dix. Datone Jones was a monster in OTAs last year and largely invisible during the season. Clinton-Dix could go with the opposite approach and we would much approve.
2. Eddie Lacy — Eddie Effin Lacy enters this year’s camp as a proven commodity. The only question we all have is how MUCH of Eddie is going to show up this time around. The Packers are hoping less than the 250-ish that showed up last year and looked like he was trying out for center. Still, there is plenty of time for Eddie to drop some weight if he needs to.
3. Colt Lyerla — I don’t think another undrafted free agent has ever gotten this kind of attention during the offseason. How long before Colt pulls an MIA or an 8-ball? No one knows.
4. The Secondary — This will be the No. 1 story through all of training camp and the preseason, and it all starts now. The only thing we know for sure about the 2014 Green Bay Packers secondary is that Sam Shields is going to be manning one outside corner spot. The rest is quite literally up for whoever wants it. Tramon Williams should have the other side locked down thanks to his performance at the end of last season, but Casey Hayward might have something to say about that. Morgan Burnett and Clinton-Dix are the favorites to start the season at the safety positions, but Micah Hyde might have something to say about that.
The Packers appear to have an abundance of riches here, at least before the scourge of injuries resumes, but my main concern might be — can we trust the embattled Darren Perry to figure this all out?