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by Jerry Gilbert
The abbreviated practice session for Thursday Morning began slightly before 9:00 a.m. The crowd seemed a little smaller than afternoon and evening practices. The day was overcast and very comfortable. Most veterans on offense were missing from the practice including Favre, Driver, Franks, Green, Clifton, Tauscher, Henderson and probably some defensive players that I cannot confirm because they practiced at the other end of the field. The focus seemed to be on providing a walk through an some experience for the reserves and young starters.

Several players arrived early. One fun looking rookie is Guard Jason Spitz. He always seems to have a smile on his face and laughs and jokes with the other linemen. The practice had been advertised as no pads, but shells, which are padded vests worn under the shirt, were being passed out.

A coach was lofting punts from a machine and several players were catching them. As has been widely reported, draft choice Corey Rodgers has been displaying inconsistent hands as a returner. It is interesting that he did not participate in the extra work. Running back Noah Herron seemed the most comfortable. He seemed to track the ball well and even caught one despite a playful push in the back from Ruvell Martin. Martin dropped one and seemed less sure of himself. Another wide receiver, Chis Francies, also had a drop. Running back Arliss Beach was fairly solid.

The official practice began with the offensive team shuttling units in and out and running through various running and passing plays. Junius Coston was at right tackle and Jason Bourke was at left tackle. Todd Washington replaced Coston with the second unit, but there is no replacement for Bourke. Tony Moll and Jason Spitz were the first team guards. Daryn Colledge is second string at left guard along with Siitupe Peko. They join Bourke and Costen, and Chris White is the back up center. Chris Traynor, who plays center and left guard, joins Mookie Moore at right guard for the third unit. As a group they are of average size. Only Todd Willians is a big guy like the injured William Whitticker. Whitticker was watching the action, and I saw him let out a massive yawn, which is a fairly good comment on his professional career to date.

Injured players and lineman not currently running plays provided the defense. The defenders executed stunts and blitzes to give the offensive linemen something to handle. An interesting part of that drill was when a coach repeatedly yelled ˝Maydayţ, and the offense ran a hurry up set of plays.

After warm ups, Special Teams took up my end of the field, and practiced defending against on side kick. Abdul Hodge made a twisting athletic reception of a high bouncing ball. Veteran free agent Tracy White, who has been nearly invisible in preseason, also made a good play on the ball. The still injured Brady Poppinga was with the kicking team. He showed his love of contact by giving a freidly shove to one of the defenders.

Quarterbacks were on another part of the field trying to throw the ball into a trash can from 32 and 42 yards. Aaron Rodgers came very close, hitting the top of the front side from the 32 Ingle Martin was also quite close on one throw. Rodgers was closest from 42.

In 11 on 11 action the following occurred. Ingle Martin had most of the plays and Brian Wrobel; had a few. In what I have seen, Wrobel looks as good as Martin and today he was better. With Martin under center, his first pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by Jason Horton. Tra Boger broke up his next pass and Martin missed a back flaring out to the right.

On the next series, he connected with Beach on a 5 yard crossing pattern. He then over threw a fly pattern up the middle which Tyrone Culver should have intercepted. On a sprint right, he missed his receiver. Then he had a nice completion to Ruvell Martin. With Ingle, David and Ruvell mrtin all playing on offense, things could get confusing. The defense sacked Martin, and then the ref called illegal motion. Vonta Leach fell down and a swing pass was incomplete. Greg Jenning caught a quick slant. Alcorn could not pull in an errant pass.

Brian Wrobel got his chance. Leach ran right for little gain. Wroble was free on a quarterback draw for a big gain. He completed a slant to Ruvell Martin, and hit him again when faced with a blitz.

On the final series Rodgers played. He hit Noah Herron up the right sidelines. Then on the highlight film play of the day, his long pass was tipped by a safety, but Greg Jennings concentrated, and he pulled in the ball for a touchdown.

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