ST. LOUIS—As the Packers reach the midpoint in their preseason schedule, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is confident in the progress of his centerpiece players, linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.
“He’s doing fine. When you take a free agent, everybody expects him to be Superman on every play. I feel good about where Julius is at,” Capers said.
“It’s been a good training camp for Clay. I feel good about both Clay and Julius getting to the things we have planned for them,” Capers added.
Those “things” Capers has planned for Peppers and Matthews will not be on display this afternoon when the Packers face the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. In game two of the preseason, the emphasis will remain on the distribution of playing time and the evaluation of young talent.
“I liked the distribution of reps (in Tennessee). We’ll probably up the reps of certain individuals. It’ll be a fast track. It’ll be a good challenge for us,” Capers said.
The Packers No. 1 defense will likely see its playing time increased over each of the next two games, before likely taking a seat for the final preseason game, which is traditionally reserved for bottom-of-the-roster players to make their last pitch for a spot on the team.
“You’re trying to get opportunities to show what you can do. We’re going to select the best football players. There’s nothing that makes you better than competition,” Capers said.
Special teams are a hot spot for competition, especially for the high-profile returner jobs. DuJuan Harris would seem to be in the lead to be the Packers’ kickoff returner, but punt returner is wide open.
Might we see rookie wide receiver Jeff Janis used as a returner?
“Jeff can do both. He can catch punts and kickoffs. I’m looking forward to seeing him play football,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said.
Rookie wide receiver Davante Adams was given a shot at returning punts in Tennessee, but fumbled two chances in the rain.
“It’s a tough position for him to be put in,” Slocum said.
Why put him in it?
“It’s a tough game played by tough men. He had to step up and respond. It’s the NFL. Guys have to step up and play,” Slocum said.
Clearly, the Packers coaching staff is challenging its young prospects to capitalize on the opportunities they are afforded.
“I’m not making predictions. I want to see them play,” Slocum added. “It’s fun to watch them go into these games and compete. It’s important to be very open-minded at this point.
“We’ll have a discussion about who should be our returners, and we’ll move on from that.”
Safety remains a position of intense competition. Micah Hyde, Morgan Burnett, first-round draft Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo are the main combatants.
“He had another interception (in practice),” Capers said of Richardson, who’s been one of the stars of training camp. “He’s shown the ability to find the ball in this camp.
“It’s an evaluation game and it’s a production game. Those that produce will play.”
The evaluation continues today. Additional pregame coverage -