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Defensive rookies will help, but aren't 'saviors'

Sep 01, 2012 -- 3:35pm
 
Photo/Associated Press via ESPN.com

GREEN BAY – During his annual Football Report at this summer’s shareholders meeting, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson issued something of a warning to the vast ownership group about expecting too much from the team’s draft class.

“Every year it’s like this, the drafted guys get a lot of attention, but it’ll be the veterans who determine our fate, will decide how we do,” Thompson said that morning. “And that’s the way it is every year. It’s up to the veterans, the leadership, their skill levels, their focus, all that sort of thing.”

That’s not to say that rookies won’t be part of the solution on defense, where the Packers ranked 32nd in the NFL last season and used their first six draft picks this spring. Those six draft picks were the six who made the team Friday: Outside linebacker Nick Perry, defensive end Jerel Worthy, cornerback Casey Hayward, safety Jerron McMillian, defensive lineman Mike Daniels and inside linebacker Terrell Manning.

The team’s two offensive draft picks were both seventh-rounders – quarterback B.J. Coleman and left tackle Andrew Datko – and both were released. Both reportedly signed with the team’s practice squad Saturday.

In all, the Packers kept 10 rookies, eight of whom are on defense as undrafted outside linebackers Dezman Moses and undrafted safety Sean Richardson also made the 53. Perry is projected to start at left outside linebacker, McMillian figures to be the nickel safety and Worthy and Daniels will likely rotate on the defensive line, especially in sub packages.

“I think they’ll be part of the group,” Thompson said Saturday when asked how much those rookies will help. “It’s like I said all along. Those guys aren’t going to come in and be saviors. They’ll come in and help the group out.” 

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