Five players have beaten the odds.
The Green Bay Packers had 27 players participate in their just-completed rookie orientation camp on a tryout basis. Five were signed to contracts, the team announced on Monday along with the release of outside linebacker Micah Johnson and fullback Ryan Roberson.
The most intriguing of the signings is cornerback Brandon Smith. At Arizona State, Smith (6-1, 205) played wide receiver. In an injury-plagued career, Smith caught 10 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns from 2006 through 2010. He had a big-time pro day, however, by running a 4.39 with a 40-inch vertical. He went undrafted in 2011 and was signed halfway through training camp by Seattle as a receiver but failed to make the team.
Joining seventh-round receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey will be Tyrone Walker. Walker was the favorite target of Packers undrafted rookie quarterback Matt Brown. Walker (5-10, 191) finished his career as Illinois State’s all-time leader in receptions (250), receiving yards (3,565) and receiving touchdowns (32). He led the Missouri Valley Conference with 90 receptions, 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. Walker (5-10, 191) ran in 4.59 with a 39-inch vertical at pro day.
Washington’s Jonathan Amosa (5-11, 247) will be the challenger to veteran John Kuhn after undrafted rookie Ryan Roberson was released. Amosa ran in 4.93 with 34 reps at pro day. Amosa started his career as a walk-on linebacker before playing the final two seasons at fullback. He caught three passes for 26 yards and one touchdown in 24 games.
With the release of Johnson, the Packers added two outside linebackers. New Mexico State's Donte Savage (6-1, 252) ran 4.80 at pro day with 20 reps on the bench and a 32.5-inch vertical. He had three sacks, seven tackles for losses and two blocked kicks as a senior. He missed 2011 for academic reasons.
The second outside linebacker was Jarvis Wilson of Prairie View A&M. Wilson (6-1, 245) had seven sacks as a junior and one-half sack and eight tackles for losses as a senior. He had a strong pro day with 4.64 in the 40, a 35-inch vertical and 24 reps on the bench.
In a surprise, the Packers didn’t draft a safety, didn’t sign anyone after the draft and didn’t sign either of the tryout safeties — Sacramento State’s Ryan McMahon and Stony Brook’s Cedrick Moore.
Moore, who played with the starters, stood out on Friday with an interception off a deflected pass. Moore (5-10, 204) ran a 4.41 at pro day, was Stony Brook’s leading tackler and a high school All-American.
That leaves holdovers Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian, along with Sean Richardson (five games; injured reserve) and Chaz Powell (practice squad). Rookie fifth-rounder Micah Hyde is a possibility, even though he was drafted to play cornerback.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.