GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One name kept coming up over and over after the first week of organized team activity practices: Josh Jones.
From Aaron Rodgers, who said Jones "flashed" during the first OTA practices, to a member of the Green Bay Packers' personnel department, who picked Jones as the player who jumped out the most, the team already is noticing that Jones, a second-round pick from NC State, looks like a rookie who will warrant significant playing time from the get go.
"We like to reserve judgment when it's just helmets and shorts," Rodgers said. "But I think he looks the part, and we're excited to have him."
There were plenty of eyes on the Packers' defense, especially the secondary, when OTAs opened last week. As he has done throughout the years when the offseason work begins, coach Mike McCarthy gave the veterans most of the reps with the starting defense. That meant Davon House and LaDarius Gunter were the outside cornerbacks, while Damarious Randall got the first crack at the slot corner position with returning safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
The Packers' top pick, second-round cornerback Kevin King, won't get the chance to break into that group until the mid-June minicamp because his school, the University of Washington, is still in session. But don't be surprised if Jones gets sprinkled in somewhere with the starting defense soon, perhaps even Thursday when the media gets its second look at practice.
In the lone open practice last week, Jones broke up two passes, one each from a different position. At his traditional safety spot, he ripped the ball out of Randall Cobb's hands on a corner route. At linebacker in the nickel package, a role the Packers plan to experiment with Jones like they did with Burnett last season, he knocked away a pass intended for tight end Beau Sandland.
"If I can make plays, get on the field and help this team and help us get to a Super Bowl, I'll play linebacker," said Jones, who says he splits his time in meetings between the safety and linebacker groups. "I'm trying to learn both. I'm just trying to learn. It's only practice No. 2. By the time fall gets here, I'll be pretty settled."
Apparently, Jones delivered a similar performance the day before in a closed practice.
"I think he's flashed the last two days," Rodgers said.
If Jones continues at this rate, it would be hard to imagine defensive coordinator Dom Capers wouldn't have him on the field in some capacity, whether it's as a slot cover man or at inside linebacker in the nickel package, along with King when September rolls around.
"I feel like I'm playing fast, but I feel like I can get a little faster when I get more comfortable," Jones said. "I'm starting to get that feel for the defense, starting to get that sense of knowing my responsibilities more. It'll come. It'll definitely come."