Packers rookies ready for speed test
GREEN BAY – Johnathan Franklin smiled and laughed at the question.
When was the last time you were surprised you took a handoff or caught a pass and that open space closed quicker than you thought?
"It's all about patience, you're never going to hit the hole too fast," he said. "But – they do close a little faster. These big boys can move up here. It's a lot different. You definitely got to get adjusted to it."
The rookie running back out of UCLA has seen how quick his teammates move through training camp thus far, but he will see his first "real" NFL action tonight at Lambeau Field as the preseason begins against the Arizona Cardinals.
True, it's not the regular season. True, starters for both teams may not be on the field for more than a few plays. But for the rookies on the Green Bay Packers' roster, this will give them a glimpse into just how fast the fastest play.
"I won't say I have a handle on it because I'm pretty sure it's a different speed," said rookie linebacker Nate Palmer, who played his college ball at the Football Championship Subdivision level at Illinois State University. "I'm just anxious, not anxious, but ready to get out there so I can see, to know what to expect."
The Packers coaching staff has prepped the first year players by saying there are three types of speed in the NFL: Practice, regular season, and playoff.
For the 27 uninitiated members currently on the roster (though not all will play tonight), they know what's coming – but there isn't really much they can do to prepare for it until the ball is in the air at 7 p.m.
"You prepare like it's a playoff game, I guess," cornerback Micah Hyde, who played at the University of Iowa last year. "When they hit playoff speed, you go up another notch because if you don't win you're going home so you just gotta prepare like it's a playoff game and from there on it's just regular season or whatever you can go out there and make plays. You're already prepared for that."
While Franklin admitted "the game is always different than practice," Palmer seemed to think his offensive counterparts in the locker room have a little more of an advantage in making the adjustment. A little.
"As an offensive player, they can rely on their athleticism to get them out of tough spots if that hole were to close," Palmer said. "Defensive players, you've got to rely on your technique and fundamentals more so than anything. It's going to be a learning curve for both sides of the ball."
Hyde felt that what adds to the quicker pace of the game is the knowledge the player's possess – whether they're entering their second year or their sixth. If a player knows where he's going, knows his assignments, that additional half step of anticipation can be all the difference in a play.
A rookie, at this juncture of the preseason, won't be that level.
"Some of it stuck with you real fast and other things are just like, brushing up on it, like I remember it but I don't really remember it but we get to go over it again," admitted rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who may not play tonight due to a hamstring pull. "It's just going over it again and being able to play fast."
Play fast. Everyone does in the NFL. For the rookies, now they get to see it.
Hyde smiled a little bit as he finished up his work Thursday.
"You just prepare for the fastest."
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.