GREEN BAY – Kevin King did his best to stay up to speed during his first month as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
The rookie second-round pick made every second count during his FaceTime sessions with cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and stayed in touch with the players he met at rookie orientation.
King even followed the happenings at the Jordy Nelson softball game on Instagram. Next year, he hopes to challenge fellow cornerback Damarious Randall for the home run derby crown.
Still, he couldn’t be in Green Bay until this week due to league rules prohibiting rookies from joining their team until their college lets out for the summer.
Simulations can’t replace real-time experience, but King did what he could. He stayed in his playbook, trained independently in Oakland and waited.
Last Sunday night, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound cornerback finally made the trip to Green Bay in time for the Packers’ three minicamp practices, the final phase of the offseason program.
“I wanted to be here with everybody with the other guys going through OTAs and everything,” King said this week. “Of course, I want to be out there. The rules didn’t allow it. I did everything I could. I did my part.”
The Packers played it safe with King this week, holding him out of team periods. The 33rd overall pick in April’s NFL Draft spent most of his time doing fundamental work with Whitt in practice and learning the day-to-day routine.
The NFL allows position coaches to communicate with rookies who are away from the team to fulfill school requirements through phone calls and social-media devices such as FaceTime and Skype.
It was Whitt’s first exposure to coaching a player remotely. With practice film out of the question due to visibility problems, Whitt used a whiteboard in his office to teach King what the other rookies were learning during the eight installation practices of organized team activities.
“Once I realized I could get an angle (on my phone) where he could see me on the board, it was just like being in my meeting room,” Whitt said. “He had his iPad so we could discuss things through the PowerPoints that way.”
Whitt won’t make any bold proclamations about King’s potential yet, not until he sees him line up against an actual receiver. But he praised the job the Washington coaching staff did in developing King’s fundamentals and footwork.
The Packers had to go through a similar drill last year with defensive linemen Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, and offensive lineman Kyle Murphy. It was a significant hurdle, but Clark felt it wasn’t impossible to overcome.
Clark learned early on the key is to maximize your reps – in training camp and in-season. If you’re on the field, you make it count. The rest takes care of itself.
“The coaches are getting you straight with all that stuff,” Clark said. “He should be all right. Just come in and get straight to work and into the playbook. Just get as many walkthrough reps and as many practice reps as you can.”
While back in Green Bay, King has been leaning on the Packers’ trio of third-year cornerbacks – Randall, LaDarius Gunter and Quinten Rollins – for tips and support.
The competitor in King wanted to be on the field when the rest of his rookie class participated in team and no-huddle periods, but he understands there’s a bigger picture in play here.
Training camp is just around the corner. That’s when the real competition begins. Until then, King plans to take what he’s learned over the last week and use it to prepare himself.
“Being here is definitely an advantage – that just means I had to work extra hard to get the calls and installations,” King said. “I think Coach did a good job of keeping me up to speed. Whenever they choose to unleash me, I’ll be ready.”