Darnell Savage returns, Ka'Dar Hollman steps forward

Packers’ rookie DB draft picks have a presence at practice

S Darnell Savage and CB Ka'dar Hollman
S Darnell Savage and CB Ka'dar Hollman

GREEN BAY – The Packers' rookie draft picks in the defensive secondary were both in the spotlight Wednesday.

For one, first-round safety Darnell Savage suited up for the first time in training camp following a wisdom tooth extraction and was easing his way back in with very limited duty.

For another, sixth-round cornerback Ka'dar Hollman stepped in with the No. 1 defense during the two-minute drill while Kevin King rested, a sign he's making a strong early impression.

Savage did only individual drills on Wednesday after missing the first five practices of camp, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur said his workload will increase each day moving forward.

The dental procedure was a case of bad timing, something that "snuck up" on him but needed to get addressed. The speedster from Maryland doesn't know how long it'll take to get back to full participation in practice, but Savage said with help from veterans like fellow safety Adrian Amos, he's been keeping up mentally with everything going on.

The only real question is whether he'll soon be back as a starter with the No. 1 defense, where he lined up all spring, or if he'll have to earn the spot back from Raven Greene, who has been playing alongside Amos thus far in camp. However it goes, the rookie is taking nothing for granted.

"I'm always in the book, just taking mental reps, always watching film and stuff like that," Savage said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be a competition. We have a lot of guys that can play back there. It's going to be fun for all of us to be on the field and make plays and always be fresh, because everybody can play."

Meanwhile, Hollman is certainly showing he belongs, getting the call to take the field with the first-string defense in a two-minute drill against Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense.

King's reps are being monitored after sitting out the bulk of OTAs and second-year corner Josh Jackson hasn't practiced yet due to a foot injury, so Hollman got the nod and acquitted himself well.

"Ka'dar's done a nice job," LaFleur said. "He challenges our receivers each and every day. He's not afraid to get up and bump them. So he's made some nice plays. It'll be interesting once we get to real live game action to see how he responds, but I'm excited about him."

Rodgers and the offense won the drill on a deep ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on which the second-year receiver made a swift adjustment, shifting and reaching inside cornerback Jaire Alexander to make a diving catch in the end zone. The defense was claiming Valdes-Scantling pushed off, but either way, it was a whale of a play.

Earlier on the drive, Rodgers came at Hollman a couple of times on shorter passes to Davante Adams. Hollman didn't give up any explosive plays but said he learned some "little things" that will help slow the game down for him next time. As for the ball coming his direction, he fully expected it.

"Being like the new face out there, you know you're going to get most of the targets," said Hollman, a three-year starter at Toledo. "The other person on the other side has a name for himself. So being the only one on the defense that doesn't have a name yet, you know everything's going to come your way, and when you're out there, you want to earn every inch of respect."

Hollman is doing that while never shying away from duty, and showing he's in great shape. After the No. 2 offense and defense had their two-minute drill, he was back on the field with the No. 3 defense and running stride-for-stride with receiver Allen Lazard on a fade to the corner of the end zone.

Hollman's aggressive style of play has been his calling card thus far, and it has served him well. His teammates have definitely taken notice.

"He's a scrappy, strong individual," veteran corner Tramon Williams said. "He wants to get up there and fight with these receivers, and that's a great thing in this league. Because nowadays that's what coaches want, that's what they want to see.

"They want to see you get in the guy's face and knock the receivers off their routes and challenge these guys, not give up easy completions. That'll definitely get him in the league and he'll be in for a long time doing those type of things."

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