It’s not often that sixth-round draft picks get the head coach’s attention in the first week of training camp, but Packers rookie Ka’dar Hollman has done just that. After just six practices, Matt LaFleur was already impressed by the Toledo product’s in your face style of play at cornerback.
“Ka’dar has done a nice job,” LaFleur told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “He challenges our receivers each and every day. He’s not afraid to get up and bump them. He’s made some nice plays.”
At 6’0” and 196 pounds, Hollman has good size for a cornerback. His long arms also help him play an effective bump-and-run style of defense. The rookie likes to make contact with receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt their routes and take them off their game.
While rookies are supposed to be seen not heard, Hollman is not afraid to be aggressive on the football field. “Me being aggressive the way my style of play is, I’m not afraid to get in somebody’s face and just go out there and have confidence,” Hollman explained to reporters.
Hollman also knows that as a rookie, he will be picked on in practice and in games. But, he’s also ready for the challenge. “Being the new face out there, you know you’re going to get most of the targets because the other person on the other side has a little name for himself,” Hollman added. “Being the only one on the defense that doesn’t have a name yet, everything is going to come your way. When you’re out there, you have to earn every inch of respect. I already know out there you’re on an island you’re by yourself. The chances of getting help are slim to none. I go out there with that mindset, I’m out there by myself.”
Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams also likes what he has seen from Hollman thus far. “He’s a scrappy, strong individual,” Williams observed. “He wants to get up there and fight with these receivers and that’s a great thing in this league because nowadays that’s what the coaches want. They want to see you get in guy’s face and knock the receivers off their routes and challenge these guys and not give up easy completions. That’s the things that coaches like and that’s what they teach. That will definitely get him in the league, and he’ll be in the league a long time doing these things.”
Hollman has showed a positive attitude and a solid work ethic right out of the gate. “Being a rookie one of the hardest things to do is to come out there and be consistent and go out there with that same mentality each and every day just focus on the little details and go out there and doing the same thing day in and out,” he told reporters. Yet thus far, he has done just that.
Hollman’s route to the NFL was not a typical one. At 24, he’s older than most first-year players. He wasn’t recruited out of high school due to low grades and he had to work at a few manual jobs before finally enrolling at Toledo. Hollman eventually earned a football scholarship and became one of the team’s best players. His 4.39 40-yard dash time at Toledo’s pro day got him more attention from NFL scouts prior to the draft.
Although Hollman’s made a good early impression, both the player and his coach know this is just the first step in the process.
“He’s a young player,” LaFleur said. “It will be interesting once we get to real live game action and see how he responds but I’m real excited about him.”
Hollman agreed. “We didn’t have any preseason games yet and we didn’t play on Sundays yet,” he said. “When we do that, I’ll make a name for myself.”
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers