GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -A 21-year-old who just got drafted by an NFL team is handed a ``get out of minicamp free'' card, then turned loose for a weekend in Los Angeles.
Party time, right?
But when the NFL told Packers rookie running back Brandon Jackson that he was essentially being forced to accept an invitation to a photo shoot in Los Angeles instead of attending the Packers' minicamp two weeks ago, Jackson went kicking and screaming.
And he brought his playbook.
``We had plenty of time to go back to the room and do whatever,'' Jackson said. ``During that time, I was studying.''
OK, Jackson admits he did have some fun in L.A. But for the most part, he was frustrated that he lost out on a chance to make a good first impression on teammates, coaches and fans.
``I was real frustrated,'' Jackson said. ``But knowing what you got to do, I really didn't care after that. I had to go, so ... I went, did that. That's done and over with. I'm back out here, I'm happy, and I'm just ready to go.''
Jackson was back in Green Bay this week for the team's voluntary workouts, and got a few repetitions with the No. 1 offense in practice on Thursday.
Granted, it was one practice without pads in May, but Jackson showed some of the ability that convinced the Packers to take the Nebraska running back in the second round last month.
Jackson showed some speed and bounced off a few tackles.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he showed a good basic understanding of the offense.
``I think he looked like a normal rookie,'' McCarthy said. ``I think he's feeling his way on some things, but he understands what he's doing. He's picked it up very clean.''
McCarthy said that while neither of the two running backs with the most likely shot at replacing Ahman Green as the Packers' starter this season is particularly big - both Jackson and Vernand Morency are listed at 5-foot-10 and 212 pounds - they're both powerful runners.
``It's really kind of the way we've gone with the running back group,'' McCarthy said. ``They're not the tallest individuals, but you look at every one of them, they have excellent lower body strength, and I think that'll be a characteristic as you look at that group that'll be a constant.''
Jackson and Morency, who was obtained from the Houston Texans in the Samkon Gado trade last season, are expected to compete for playing time in training camp after Green signed with the Texans as a free agent. It's likely both will get their share of carries as the Packers take a by-committee approach to the position.
Morency got an early leg up by attending minicamp while Jackson was in L.A., but Jackson isn't worried that missing one minicamp will hurt his long-term chances of winning the job.
``Coach told me, don't worry about that, as long as I get back in and get in with the pace that we're going at right now,'' Jackson said. ``So I'm good.''
McCarthy said Jackson has put in extra effort with Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett to make up for lost time.
``He's been excellent,'' McCarthy said. ``He's very willing. Edgar, there's not a day that goes by you don't see two or three or four of his players in his office. And I've talked about this in prior engagements, that's what you're looking for - one-on-one attention that these guys are taking full advantage of. We schedule it in our weekly schedules for coaches to be available to players, and more importantly, take full advantage of it. And Brandon is definitely one of those guys.''
Jackson said he didn't feel too far behind during practice on Thursday.
``At first, I felt like it put me behind,'' Jackson said. ``But after getting in here and going through these plays, basically I know what to do when I first look at the play. So I feel like I'm caught up, and everything is going well.''
Now he's trying to win the starting job.
``That's every guy's outlook, to become the No. 1 guy at his position,'' Jackson said. ``Yes, I want to be the No. 1 guy. Can I say I'm the No. 1 guy right now? No. But I want to, and I know it's going to take a lot of hard work because we've got four or five other running backs that are great and they want to do the same thing - they want to start. I know it's going to be a lot of competition out there.''

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