Bay Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark (97) and guard Lane
Taylor ride bikes to NFL football training camp, Thursday, July
28, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY — Not
long after they were drafted this spring by the Green Bay Packers,
Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry got a call from the fiery leader of the
Mike Daniels was on
the phone, and he needed them to get ready quickly.
The Packers will be
down a veteran up front early in the season because of the four-game
suspension of Mike Pennell, so Clark and Lowry must be ready to play
right away. That means there is no time to waste in training camp for
"I'm not going
to lie to you," Daniels said. "We need them ready like
After Daniels and
Letroy Guion, the Packers will be short on experience up front to
start the season.
Veteran B.J. Raji is
on a one-year "hiatus" from football. Pennel emerged as a
competent backup in 2015, but the third-year player will miss the
first four games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Datone Jones has been moved to a hybrid pass-rushing role in which
he'll line up more like an outside linebacker.
Clark, the Packers'
first-round pick out of UCLA, could emerge as a starter right away.
Lowry, a fourth-round pick from Northwestern, could see significant
snaps as a backup.
Coach Mike McCarthy
doesn't seem concerned, at least this early in camp. He said he has
been satisfied with the progress of his rookies so far since the
offseason program. There are five preseason games and to get the young
guys in shape.
It's part of the
annual shuffling in Green Bay anyway, which surrounds a talented
veteran core with a healthy complement of younger players.
Two years ago, the
youth was concentrated in the receiving corps; last year, it was
This training camp,
the defensive line is front and center.
"Let's face it,
this game's about big men and the big men have to control the balance
of what (happens) on the field and frankly in the locker room,
too," McCarthy said. "So the consistency of our young
D-linemen will be critical to how that group grows."
In Daniels, McCarthy
has an ideal mentor for the rookies. A fourth-round pick in 2012,
Daniels has turned into a stabilizing and energetic presence up front.
The Packers held
their first practice with pads on Thursday. It had barely started when
a brief scuffle broke out during a drill. Not surprisingly, Daniels
was right in the middle, mixing things up with an offensive lineman.
aggressive like that," four-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton said.
"He's got that leadership quality too where he wants to get other
people going. Get other people fired up, too."
For Daniels, the
tutoring of Clark and Lowry started months ago, in phone calls to the
rookies a day or two after they were each drafted in late April.
putting any kind of pressure on me. They're just making sure, like,
'Man, you need to be solid by Game 1 and we want you to be
good,'" Clark said. "I'm taking all of that in. I'm excited
for it. I love it."
NOTES: House Speaker
Paul Ryan, a lifelong Packers fan, attended practice with his family.
The Wisconsin Republican talked football with team president Mark
Murphy; met his favorite player, quarterback Aaron Rodgers; and
addressed the team at midfield. "Look, I'm used to giving a lot
of speeches, I was actually pretty nervous talking to these
guys," Ryan said. As just a lifelong Packer fan, it was just a
pretty cool experience, just to meet the team." ... The Packers
signed WR Harvey Binford on Thursday. Binford played for the
Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League in 2015-16. ... The
team is off on Friday and returns to practice on Saturday.