Some players and coaches might get annoyed at all the hooting and hollering Jerel Worthy does during practice.
Not Mike McCarthy.
“I love his energy,” McCarthy said after Friday’s no-pads practice, one in which Worthy could be heard vocally celebrating a backfield “stop” of running back James Starks. He even yelled playfully at the media to put their cameras down when a small skirmish broke out after one play.
“He jumps around, he’s excited. He brings a lot of energy.”
The Packers are counting on Worthy to bring that and more to their defense, having traded up in the second round to draft him at 51st overall. The former Michigan State star is lining up alongside B.J. Raji as an inside rusher with the No. 1 nickel defense, which is the package the Packers generally employ more than any other.
He hasn’t practiced in pads yet – an offensive lineman may be waiting for the pads to go on to remind Worthy that rookies should be seen more often than heard – but all indications through the first two days of training camp are that Worthy will be playing a significant role during the 2012 campaign.
Worthy and his defensive linemates got a few extra snaps on Friday with Anthony Hargrove excused for an out-of-town personal matter. McCarthy expects Hargrove back on Saturday.
McCarthy also said he saw Worthy making adjustments at the line of scrimmage based on the defense’s pass-rush call, and the head coach noted after watching the film of Thursday’s opening practice that Worthy and fellow draft pick Mike Daniels both “showed up.”
“I think he’s going to be in position to make an impact for us,” McCarthy said. “He seems confident in his assignments and is doing well.”
For that, Worthy credits the coaching staff for helping him adjust quickly to the pro game. He left college with a year of eligibility left, and even though he wasn’t drafted in the first round as some projected, it appears he made the right call.
“I’m trying to get into a little bit of a comfort zone,” he said. “The speed and the tempo of everything is something you have to get adjusted to. But you’re out there with big-time players, so at this stage you have to step up.”
As for all the vocal antics, Worthy said that’s simply his way of making the game more fun. Playing quietly with the head down is not his style.
“I’m just excited,” he said. “You’ve got to make the best out of camp. We’ve got long days, a lot of hours we put in at the facility and a lot of hours we put in on the field. If you’re going to be out there, you might as well have fun with it.”
On the other side of the ball, second-year tight end D.J. Williams is having some fun, too. He made a diving catch of an Aaron Rodgers throw during seven-on-seven Friday, one of a handful of notable grabs he’s made thus far. He also joked with reporters about “wrestling cows” in the offseason in Arkansas to stay in shape.
More seriously, Williams said the start of camp is like “night and day” compared to last year, when as a rookie he was locked out of any offseason activities. He’s getting more reps in camp early on due to Andrew Quarless’ ongoing recovery from knee reconstruction and Jermichael Finley’s absence Friday due to a mild concussion. McCarthy said Finley would be out a couple of days.
But what Williams termed an “unfortunate opportunity,” referring to his teammates’ injuries, is one he’s determined not to waste.
“He’s stronger,” McCarthy said. “He’s playing with much more balance and strength, and that’s one of the things you see when a younger player is starting to develop. They’re not off their feet very often.”
McCarthy added that while Williams has stood out over the first two days, he’s interested in seeing his in-line blocking skills when the pads go on Saturday. An accomplished route-runner and pass-catcher in college, Williams knows doing a tight end’s dirty work is what will earn him a bigger role as a pro.
“That’s huge,” Williams said of the blocking assignments, both in the run game and pass protection. “It’s not necessarily who’s going to run in there with their hair on fire and just hit somebody and see what happens. It’s technique, and it took me a while to understand that. It’s something I worked on in the offseason.” Related links