Rookie cornerback Davon House really wanted to cut it loose in Tuesday’s practice, and it’s hard to fault him.
House was instructed by the coaching staff, though, to be careful on his first day back from a hamstring injury, and by all accounts he came through fine.
“I tried not to go full-throttle, but a couple of times the coaches told me to slow down a little bit,” House said. “It feels good to be back.”
The fourth-round draft pick from New Mexico State had made a strong early impression during the first week of training camp, only to pull his hamstring just before “Family Night.” He returned on Tuesday following a two-and-a-half-week absence and immediately resumed battling for the fourth cornerback spot behind the Packers’ top three of Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields.
House took snaps with both the scout team and regular defenses during practice inside the Don Hutson Center and, provided he has no setbacks with the hamstring this week, he’ll get his first preseason game action on Friday night in Indianapolis.
“(I need to) start making plays and, hopefully, I can get back in the position I was in before I got hurt,” House said. “It feels like I still need to get that one game underneath my belt, and this upcoming weekend is going to be the day.”
Considering he missed “Family Night” and the first two preseason games, House’s anxiety is understandable, but he needs to watch himself. At this point, staying healthy takes precedence over straining to make a splash play or two.
“The most important thing for Davon is to be out there every day, and if you’re not out there every day, you just get further and further behind,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It was great to see him out there. I thought he moved well. He just needs reps. He needs to play.”
With two preseason games to go, the competition amongst young players fighting for roster spots remains fierce, and McCarthy reiterated that a lot of those battles are going to come down to which players can contribute on special teams.
Several positions have multiple players in the early stages of their careers vying for roster spots, including receiver (Chastin West, Tori Gurley, Brett Swain and others), outside linebacker (Vic So’oto, Jamari Lattimore), tight end (Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor, D.J. Williams, Spencer Havner) and defensive back (Josh Gordy, Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood).
“That’s your vehicle onto the team, special teams, for sure,” said West, echoing a phrase all the young players have heard from McCarthy more than once. West is coming off a five-catch, 134-yard outing last Friday against Arizona, but like any player who’s not a starter, he has to prove he’s not one-dimensional.
“It’s all about your value,” McCarthy said. “Everybody has to try to increase their value with every opportunity they have. From that, it’s our responsibility to make tough decisions.”
The heat of competition showed itself momentarily during Tuesday’s workout, when after one particular snap a pair of second-year offensive linemen, Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse, got into a little shouting and shoving match after the whistle.
It’s unusual to see players in the same position group get after each other like that, but everyone involved insisted afterward it wasn’t a big deal.
“I grew up with two brothers, we fought all the time, we love each other, that’s how me and Marshall’s relationship is,” McDonald said. “We came in together last year. There’s no hard feelings. We got over it.”
Offensive line coach James Campen immediately pulled the two players to the sideline to talk things over and get cooler heads to prevail.
“He’s like the dad, taking the two kids aside and talking it out,” McDonald said of Campen. “Everything’s fine.”
Other notes from Tuesday:
Pleased with Monday’s practice, McCarthy said he was hoping to “stack two in a row” but was disappointed in the number of penalties on Tuesday. Most of the infractions appeared to occur on offense and special teams.
Linebacker K.C. Asiodu (chest) and center Sampson Genus (turf toe) were added to the injury list, while Havner and rookie first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod joined House in returning to practice.