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Rookie Class Gets Ample Playing Time

Last year, the Green Bay Packers didn't get much sudden impact from their rookies. That was a different story on Sunday and will continue to be going forward.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – In last year’s season-opening victory against Minnesota, the Green Bay Packers’ rookie class contributed 79 snaps from scrimmage.

In Sunday’s season-opening loss to New Orleans, the Packers’ rookies played 167 snaps. That not only was more than double last year’s season average of 73 but it was the seventh-most in the NFL, according to Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.

Of course, most of Sunday’s snaps came from the offensive line duo of second-round center Josh Myers and fourth-round guard Royce Newman. Both players lined up for all 57 offensive snaps. According to PFF, Myers gave up one pressure and Newman gave up two. One allowed by Newman was particularly damaging, with Pro Bowler Cam Jordan blowing past him and forcing the red-zone interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers.

“They played hard,” right tackle Billy Turner said on Tuesday. “You watch them snap in, snap out, that’s the one thing I was very impressed with. They went out there and they left it all on the field. They played very, very hard.”

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Playing hard and playing well, obviously, are two different things. After a strong preseason that allowed him to win the starting job, Newman struggled in both phases against the Saints’ talented front. But Sunday, the coaches hope, was a mere jumping-off point to his career.

Interestingly, of the six draft picks to get playing time, first-round cornerback Eric Stokes played the fewest with eight. Stokes played only two snaps of coverage, according to PFF. The only time he was targeted was his breakup of a third-down pass in the third quarter. (Note: That play is referenced by linebacker Krys Barnes in the associated video.) With Kevin King giving up a long touchdown to close the scoring, it will be interesting to see if Stokes gets more playing time on Monday night vs. Detroit.

By round and snaps, here’s the breakdown: First-round cornerback Stokes, 8; second-round center Myers, 57; third-round receiver Amari Rodgers, 15; fourth-round guard Newman, 57; fifth-round defensive tackle TJ Slaton, 16; fifth-round cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles, inactive; sixth-round linebacker Isaiah McDuffie; inactive; seventh-round running back Kylin Hill, 14.

Last season, the Packers drafted nine players but it was undrafted linebacker Krys Barnes who played the most snaps with 421, or 36.0 percent of the rookie total. Of the draft picks, linebacker Kamal Martin played the most with 190 and offensive lineman Jon Runyan was next with 160. This year, Martin was released during training camp and Runyan played one snap on special teams.