McCarthy looks for ‘something special’ during rookie orientation

In addition to the Packers' nine drafted players, Green Bay had signed 13 undrafted players who were on the field for rookie orientation, as well as 28 players who were in on a tryout basis, hoping to impress head coach Mike McCarthy.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mike McCarthy didn’t expect to see any Aaron Rodgers-esque throws. He knew there wouldn’t be a dominating performance by an offensive or defensive lineman. This was rookie orientation, with the vast majority of the 58 players being wide-eyed newbies officially stepping on an NFL field for the first time.

Wearing shorts and no pads, players had few opportunities to be thoroughly evaluated by the Green Bay Packers coaching staff. But McCarthy and his assistants were looking for specific things that can be used to help determine which of these players deserves an invitation to training camp.

"You want them to come in and have something jump out at you," McCarthy said. "It’s not how many balls you catch, not how many completions you have, not how many balls you break up. You’re looking for movement ability, you’re looking for fit, you’re looking for someone that has something special or something you feel can add to the football team."

In addition to the Packers’ nine drafted players, Green Bay had signed 13 undrafted players who were on the field, as well as 28 players who were in on a tryout basis.

"There’s not a whole lot of difference between some of these tryout players and the guys that are here and have been drafted or have already signed a free-agent contract," McCarthy said. "Some guy may have run a bad 40, one guy may be a little bit shorter, but they’re all very good football players that are here for a reason."

The Packers have a good history with undrafted players not only making the team but having an impact. Starting cornerbacks Sam Shields (who signed a four-year, $39 million extension this offseason) and Tramon Williams lead that group of once-overlooked players who are now vital to Green Bay’s success.

"If you look at the history of our 90-man roster and look at the history of our 53-man roster, the percentage of how many undrafted free agents that have played here, everybody knows we had two start in the Super Bowl," McCarthy said. "Those are the kind of statistics that you put in front of these guys just to show them that they have such a unique opportunity to make our ball club and really how this is a young man’s league, and it has been for a number of years."

The level of inexperience present inside the Don Hutson Center on Friday, however, was immediately evident. But that didn’t bother McCarthy.

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"No one’s going to be extremely evaluated on the execution of the practice," McCarthy said. "Frankly, I thought the practice for the first day out was really good compared to prior years."

With the draft pushed back to May this year, two teams — the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals — didn’t even bother having a rookie minicamp.

This process is still too valuable to the Packers, though, to bypass it.

"I’m hopeful that there will be a couple of guys who come out of these two days that will jump up and make our team," McCarthy said. "It’s fun to have them here."

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