Emptying most of my notebook after two days at Green Bay Packers minicamp:
Mike Neal is the biggest outside linebacker I've seen, an observation probably enhanced by his habit of rolling up jersey sleeves to expose his arms. In team drills, Neal was matched up a number of times on new left tackle Bryan Bulaga and looked comfortable rushing from a two-point stance. I don't think anyone knows if Neal can drop back in coverage and I'm not sure the Packers intend to find out. His role could settle as a designated pass-rusher in certain schemes. Asked for his impressions of Neal, outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said: "He's going to be a heck of a pass-rusher screaming off the corner, I know that. It just gives [defensive coordinator Dom Capers] more options as far as that goes."
Bulaga didn't look uncomfortable at left tackle, his college position at Iowa, but this week was a good reminder of the significance of what the Packers are attempting by flipping their guards and tackles this year. While Bulaga is the key to the changes, his presumably smooth transition won't matter if new left guard Josh Sitton, right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Marshall Newhouse can't follow suit. "It's going good," Sitton said, "but it's something that's going to take time. For me, it's going to take time." Newhouse got most of the first-team snaps at right tackle that I saw. I'll have more on Bulaga later this summer.
There is no evidence that a true competition will materialize for the No. 2 quarterback's job behind starter Aaron Rodgers. Third-stringer B.J. Coleman hasn't done anything to challenge incumbent Graham Harrell. Coach Mike McCarthy offered this polite assessment of Coleman: "Yeah, he's getting better. He's improved. I just want to see him play an actual game out. He needs to play."
It was a bit concerning to see outside linebacker Nick Perry still wearing a brace on the injured wrist that ended his rookie season. But McCarthy said: "I would think if training camp was tomorrow, he would be ready." Perry appeared to be a full participant regardless, and his spring performance has reinforced the Packers' belief that he will take a big pass-rushing leap in 2013. "He looks so much smoother and athletic than he did as a rookie," McCarthy said. "A lot of that is the transition he was making. Nick is a powerful man." I'll have more on Perry, with comments from Greene, later this summer.
Rookie Datone Jones was drafted as a 3-4 end, and at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, he looks like one. So it was interesting to see him lining up at tackle in the Packers' nickel. The Packers haven't had that big of an interior disruptor in a while. "That's one of my biggest attributes: being scheme versatile," Jones said. "When coaches put me in a position, I think I can make plays there."
Randall Cobb seems the likeliest candidate to be the Packers' top receiver in 2013, but he was still working in the return game this week as well. McCarthy has said he prefers to take Cobb off of special teams, but he said this week that the final decision rests with Cobb's teammates. Someone will have to step up to the role before Cobb is officially relieved of his duties.