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Woodson steps into safety position

Posted Jul 26, 2012

By all appearances, Charles Woodson is a safety.

The veteran star cornerback, in the 15th season of a career that will almost certainly take him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was at safety on the first team-type play of training camp on Thursday morning, and he spent the remainder of practice as either a safety or a nickel back. Late in practice, Woodson intercepted a pass off a deflection by linebacker D.J. Smith.

“Charles has played that position. Now he’s just lined up in Okie playing strong safety,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.

“Throughout his career he’s been a playmaker. We feel he’s a lot more valuable the closer he is to the ball,” McCarthy added, explaining that the intent is to “get (Woodson) closer to the ball and more involved.”

All of a sudden, or maybe not so all of a sudden, a spot opens up for one of the Packers’ young, ascending cornerbacks. Second-year man Davon House was a standout in the spring and, of course, the team selected Casey Hayward in the second round of this year’s draft. On day one, however, it was veteran reserve Jarrett Bush that was the star.

“We need as many playmakers, as many defensive backs as possible,” McCarthy said.

The Packers waived veteran safety Charlie Peprah on Wednesday. The move would suggest the Packers are confident in the young talent they have at safety, and it also tipped their hand as to Woodson’s role in 2012.

“We have some young players we’re excited about, players we had a chance to watch throughout the spring. It’s a lot of competition,” McCarthy said when asked to explain the decision to waive Peprah.

McCarthy mentioned second-year man M.D. Jennings as being one of those young safeties.

“M.D. showed things last year, especially on special teams. He has that body of work combined with a good offseason,” McCarthy said.

Seven players did not pass their physicals and began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Those players are: fullback John Kuhn (knee), linebackers Desmond Bishop (calf strain) and Frank Zombo (hamstring), defensive end Johnny Jones (knee), guard Jaymes Brooks (hamstring), tackle Derek Sherrod (leg) and tight end Andrew Quarless (knee). Those players may be activated at any time during the preseason.

McCarthy praised his team’s work on a hot and humid morning at Ray Nitschke Field. Players were outfitted in shells; the first full-pads practice is set for Saturday.

“It’s going to ramp up. That’s the responsibility of the coaching staff. We finished plus-six (minutes). That’s pretty damn good for the first day,” McCarthy said. “It was a fast-tempo practice. If they weren’t in shape, I think it would stand out more. That was a pretty sharp practice. I feel pretty good about our start.”

On a positive note, running back Alex Green was cleared to practice. Green is in a comeback from knee-reconstruction surgery at midseason last year. McCarthy spoke of Green’s explosiveness, “how fast he plays in the hole. He’s at top speed when he sees the opportunity for it to split.”

Rookie defensive lineman Mike Daniels, a fourth-round pick from Iowa, was also cleared to practice after sitting out the spring following shoulder surgery in January.

“He looks good in a uniform. That’s about all I have in the way of evaluation for you,” McCarthy said, reserving judgment until the pads go on.

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