The June minicamp has been going on this month, but it is too hard to filter out who is actually playing well from the coaches quotes. However, you can definetly see there is a problem with CB Al Harris because he is sitting out for a new contract. Most of the article is about the release of disappointing NT Donnell Washington, who has been in the coaches' doghouse under Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy and his release should be no surprise. Buried deep in the article is that Harris is sitting out. It is early, but contract disputes haven't gone well for the Packers in recent seasons. Thanks to the Unofficial Salary Cap page, Harris will make $2.5 million in 2006 and received an initial signing bonus in 2004 of $4.375 million based on a 5 year contract. Any NFL player who signed before the big cap increase last March is probably underpaid for 2006, but it is more obvious for Harris since the Packers signed CB Charles Woodson. Woodson should be paid about $10.5 million in 2006; $4.6 million as a signing bonus, $1.5 million in base salary, and $4.4 million in easily reachable bonuses. Although Harris is the number 1 cornerback, he will be paid a lot less than Woodson in 2006 and beyond if Woodson remains with the Packers past 2006. It looks like the Packers will have to make some concession with Harris.
There is a little bit more about Harris in this article about the veterans who haven't shown up for the voluntary practices. I don't have high expectations for Woodson since no other NFL team believes he can play cornerback anymore, so his absense isn't a concern for me. NT Ryan Pickett isn't hurt by missing practices. What does a space clogging nose tackle have to learn? Hopefully this isn't a sign Pickett is not keeping in shape, but otherwise it isn't a problem.
G Jason Spitz has been getting some playing time with the first team at right guard. The 3rd round pick is most likely going to play at right guard over the nose tackle because of his size (310 lbs.) so this is his best opportunity for playing time. The top 3 players in consideration at right guard (Spitz, G Junius Coston, and G Will Whitticker) were all drafted by Ted Thompson, and after watching Whitticker during 2005, he is probably eager to see how both Spitz and Coston play this season.
LB Ben Taylor received playing time at the strong side linebacker position ahead of LB Roy Manning. Taylor and Manning appear to be similar players and there shouldn't be much of a difference between them. Both of them have to watch over their shoulders because LB Brady Poppinga (once returned from injury) and rookie LB Abdul Hodge might be ahead of them once Poppinga returns to practice and Hodge learns the defense.