Packers rookie S Kitan Oladapo will have to stay up to speed without practice reps

Green Bay Packers rookie safety Kitan Oladapo will have the challenge of staying up to speed while being sidelined with a toe injury.

While participating in the on-field drills at the NFL Combine, Oladapo suffered a broken toe. He had surgery on it a few weeks before the draft and the hope is that he will be good to go for training camp in August.

However, in the meantime, while Oladapo will still be involved in the team meetings, he’s not going to have the opportunity to apply what he’s learning in the practice field.

“Just staying in the training room, getting the swelling down, getting my range of motion back,” said Oladapo. “And then just staying locked in, mental reps on the sideline, and then meet with the coaches after, make sure I get the game plan.”

Not that Oladapo will have the same fate as Grant DuBose – Oladapo’s path to contributing as a rookie is much more clear – but we saw just last offseason how an injury during this time of the year derailed any sort of roster push DuBose was hoping to make. He didn’t return to the practice field until mid-August, and was playing catch up at that point.

At a minimum, Oladapo figures to be a core special teams player for the Packers. Defensively, while versatile like Javon Bullard and Evan Williams, Oladapo fills more of the traditional safety role, as GM Brian Gutekunst described it, able to fill both the “free and strong safety role,” who can also line up as the “big nickel Sam linebacker.”

“As we can move him around more,” said defensive backs coach Ryan Downard, “the walk throughs are going to become vital because these guys, you teach them what you can but until you go out and do it and walk through it, that’s to me where the real learning takes place.

“You can sit in a classroom and learn something but until you either have to teach it back or you take them out there physically let them walk through it, that’s I think where the growth takes place.”

Downard added that Oladapo’s intelligence and football IQ will help him stay up to speed throughout this process. Downard liked what he saw from him during rookie minicamp and made sure to fire questions Oladapo’s way to keep him engaged.

The addition of Oladapo – along with Bullard and Williams – provides that interchangability that GM Brian Gutekunst was looking for at the position. Increased versatility at the position opens up the playbook for Jeff Hafley from a game-planning perspective and makes it more difficult for opposing offenses pre-snap, not knowing who will have what responsibility.

Another element that these three players bring is speed and physicality. Along with finding the right players from a schematic standpoint, there is a certain play-style that the Packers want to have under Hafley.

“I’m comfortable anywhere on the field,” said Oladapo. “Whatever the team needs me to do: be in the box, be in the post, blitz, guard tight ends, guard slots. I can do it all. I feel comfortable just having my two feet on the grass.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire