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Training Camp Notebook: Manning Masters Multiple Positions


Versatile Rookie

One of the surprises of camp, Roy Manning, took snaps with the first unit at weakside linebacker during practice. The undrafted free agent's performance continues to push for more playing time.

"Manning is a making a move," Bates said.

The coaching staff plans to take an extensive look at him versus the Buffalo Bills during Saturday's preseason game. His speed and change-of-direction ability have impressed them during camp.

"He's been pretty steady since he's been here," head coach Mike Sherman said. "He's a bright kid. He responds well to coaching."

Manning, a middle linebacker during most of camp, started at outside linebacker in the spot vacated by Na'il Diggs. Such a position change could throw off most rookies, but for Manning it's a return to his comfort zone. He played outside linebacker at the University of Michigan.

"It's easy for me," he said. "It's the same basic principle [as college]. So I don't think it won't be that hard of a transition at all."

He welcomes the position change for another reason. He admitted he needs to become better at recognizing plays. But if he can demonstrate the ability to play more than one spot, he increases his chances of making the team.

"The more positions I play, the more value I can have to this team," he said. "Wherever the coaches want to line me up, that's where I'll go."


Halftime Adjustments

After the special teams segment and after completing an hour and fifteen minutes of practice, Sherman called his team together on Monday morning. He chewed them out for their mediocre performance and energy.

"You can't be average in Green Bay, Wisconsin," he told reporters afterward. "That doesn't work."

The players seemed to respond to his speech, displaying more energy in the last hour of the morning session.

"We finished better," Sherman said. "We had a better second half than first half."


A Secondary With Teeth

If there's one thing defensive coordinator Jim Bates' scheme calls for, it's a physical secondary.

"We want to get that mentality that we're very aggressive with the receivers, and we're not going to give up anything," he said.

The rookie defensive backs showed signs of that during the morning session. Mike Hawkins jumped a throw from Craig Nall. He forced an incompletion but dropped the pass. Marviel Underwood leveled rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy, and Nick Collins broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Antonio Chatman.

The rookies have displayed their playmaking skills but need to work on mastering their techniques and reads.

"The biggest thing any rookie has to do for us is to be sharp in the checks, sharp in the communication and playing technique," Bates said.

Collins continued to work with the first team during the morning session. When Mark Roman left practice to have his hamstring iced down, Collins played with Underwood on the starting unit.

"He's looked good," Bates said of Collins. "But he still has a long ways to go as do all the rookies."


Defensive Line Has Talent, Seeks Consistency

With Cletidus Hunt (knees and shoulder) and Grady Jackson (knee) nursing injuries, defensive tackle Donnell Washington took snaps with the first team for the second consecutive day.

Washington has the talent and frame to become a difference maker on the interior, but the 2004 third round draft pick faces a learning curve. A foot injury suffered during training camp last year forced him to miss the season.

"He's a true rookie coming into this season," Sherman said.

The 6-6, 328-pounder had one of his best practices on Sunday, but in order for him to land the starting spot for good, he must perform that way through the rest of camp.

"Consistency is the name of the game," Bates said. "I need to see it day after day."

Consistency is a weakness Bates cited when asked for the area that requires the greatest improvement from his defense.

"We as coaches are anxious to see them to get the system down better and practice better on a daily basis," he said.


Quick Hits: Cornerback Jason Horton picked off quarterback Brett Favre during the morning session. ... Wide receiver Javon Walker caught two touchdowns from Favre. ... The starting guard rotation continues. Matt O'Dwyer played with the first team on Monday. ... The best thing about the Packers defense? "The players have bought into the system," Bates said. ... Running back Tony Fisher threw a touchdown pass to tight end David Martin during team drills. ... The Packers waived cornerback Charles Byrd on Monday. ... Cornerback Joey Thomas suffered a hip flexor and did not participate in Monday's practices. ... Although not 100 percent, Murphy said he could go full speed for the first time since suffering a hip flexor early in training camp: "Today I turned it on, and you got to see my 4.3 speed." ... Former general manager Ron Wolf has visited training camp the last two days. "Ron's a huge part of the Green Bay Packers and the success we've had," Sherman said.

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