TRAINING CAMP REPORT WEDNESDAY 8/16 2:00by Jerry Gilbert
This day's only practice opened on a sunny summer day. On Thursday, a young man told me that A.J Hawk had refused to give a pre-practice autograph on Wednesday. Hawk said: "Sorry, I have to go." I told the young fan that Hawk was being truthful, because well before this practice started, all the linebackers were on the field with their coaches listening to instructions and walking through game situations. It was very good to see Brady Poppinga out there. He was mostly watching, but he is in pads and on the field.
Tight end Zac Alcorn and receiver Chris Francies ran routes to warm up the three backup quarterbacks. Favre arrived later.
As the actual practice began, it was a very low key affair as offense and defense separately walked through plays. "Low key' was the term I used in my notes at the field to differentiate this practice form others I had seen. I have since read that McCarthy thought it was too lackadaisical, and called the team over and demanded more intensity.
I positioned myself at this practice to watch the defense and offensive linemen. It appears that Colin Cole and Ryan Pickett are the starting defensive tackles. The offense, during this drill was featuring short passes particularly to tight ends. The team next got together for exercises. Charles Woodson was right in front of me. Like most veterans, he does not do every exercise, but as he easily stretched out his body, he looked very fit. In general, veteran Packers, not including free agents brought in this year, seem to be at the front of the group when they do group stretching. Coaches and trainers work with individual players to stretch them out.
Punters took the opportunity to work with long snappers. Jon Ryan, who has been criticized for being a line drive kicker, was working on and achieving nice altitude on his kicks. Thomas Gafford joined Rob Davis as a long snapper.
Offensive line drills are not crowd pleasers. The injured players and the unit not doing the drill play defense, and the linemen walk though various situations. They worked on stunts, twists, and blitzes and also practiced firing out to find linebackers to block.
The Packers' new zone blocking system seems to be similar to a read and react defense. A key part of the drill is that the blocker does not necessarily hit the man in front of him. That attacker may be about to leave his zone, and he waits for someone to fill it, or he looks to find a linebacker or to execute a double team, depending on the play that is called. A blocker who does not wait for his man may hit the wrong man and leave someone unblocked. This is what happened against San Diego. Through the entire practice, the offensive line kept going back to drills to simulate problems that defenders may cause.
Meanwhile centers and quarterbacks were working on dropbacks. Coaches watched footwork. Pete Traynor was the third center and Jason Spitz was the fourth along with Scott Wells and Chris White. Wide receivers were practicing quick reaction passes. They all drop some. Tight ends were doing blocking drills similar to what the linemen were doing. I got a close look at the new tight ends coach, Ben McAdoo who, at 29, is one of the younger coaches in the league, and he looks like a college kid. He seemed organized and decisive and the players responded well. He is a first year coach. Tight ends than joined the linemen to do the same drill together.
At the other end, QB and WR worked on long passes without a defense. Then they spread out receivers to catch passes from three quarterbacks at once. I had just written in my notes that there had been no drops, when Mark Boerigter dropped one. He will need to be perfect in games to overcome his drops in practice.
Eleven on Eleven Drills Began. I was far away and missed some details.
Favre and 1st Offense against 2d Defense. Receivers and backs shuttle in and out Green made a few yards running right. Davenport ran hard over right guar d. Favre overthrew an open Greg Jennings on a fly pattern up the middle. Rodgers began with a busted play and then handed off to Beach up the middle. Arliss Beach runs well and also appears to have pretty good hands.
Favre hit Boerigter on a 15 yard crossing pattern. Then on the highlight film play of the day, Favre connected with Jennings on a bomb up the let side. With Rodgers under center, the line blocked well for a Davenport sweep left. Rodgers then connected with Ben Brown in stride for a good gain. Arliss Beach broke through the middle. The ref called an illegal motion penalty on the play. On the next play, Favre was intercepted by cornerback Jerron Wishom. Wishom has been victimized on many completions and he got a little payback. Marc Boerigter was the intended receiver.
Rodgers handed off to Davenport over the left side for little gain. Brian Wrobel came on. He handed off to Herron for about six yards and again to Herron on a delay for the first down. He then passed to Driver for another first down. Ingle Martin followed with Herron left, Beach left and a swing pass to Ben Brown.
Working as he often does against the second defense, Favre hit Gardner on a nice over the middle for about 10 yards. He then hit Donald Lee who made a nice catch of a high pass. Rodgers passed to Vonta Leach on the left side, and he followed with a stop pass to tight end Tory Humphrey. Passes to backs and tight ends seem to be a big part of the strategy.
Overall, the tight ends are looking fairly strong. Both Bubba Franks and David Martin have been consistently good but not spectacular. The long patterns for tight ends seem to go to Lee and Humphrey and an acceptable percentage are completed. Zac Alcorn is willing and seems to catch what is thrown to him, but he has little chance to crack the roster. I was particularly impressed with the way David Martin ran out his motion plays. He was doing it as he would in a game and held nothing back. His blocking also seems to be effective. Returning to the live action, Ingle Martin had a weak series against the first defense. On one play Zac Alcorn and Nick Collins got their feet tangled and Alcorn went down. The Ref said it was a non call. Brian Wrobel suffered the same fate. Wrobel missed Alcorn and on that play one of the linebackers jumped high in an effort to knock down the pass.
Favre returned against what was basically the third team defense and shredded it with a crossing pattern to Driver and a pass to Ruvell Martin on which Martin adjusted to where the ball was thrown and made a nice catch. Ruvell Martin had a strong three days of practice when I was there.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked. He then hit Gardner over the middle. Ingle Martin handed off three straight times over the right side and then completed a pass to Ruvell Martin over the middle. Brian Wrobel threw a long out pattern to Ruvell Martin. It was a nice catch but out of bounds.
The units then separated to all parts of the field. QBs Martin and Wrobel received more chances to complete passes in a seven on seven situation. Special teams were working on fake field goals. Jon Ryan rolled right, and on his second try, he and passed to Henderson for a touchdown. He also ran up under center and passed from that formation. The drill appeared to be mostly for the defense. Meanwhile offensive linemen were doing more zone blocking work.
The next major activity was offensive lineman in full contact one on one's against defensive linemen. Rookie tackle Josh Bourke whiffed against KGB on an outside rush.
Daryn Colledge fought Colin Cole to a draw. On his next try, Bourke redirected KGB around the QB. Rookie pass rusher Jason Hunter got home. Tony Moll held up well against Ryan Pickett. Mookie Moore held up against Colin Cole. Hunter again beat a second team lineman. End Mike Montgomery and tackle Jerome Nichols also had success.
More Eleven on Eleven.
Favre missed a well covered Ruvell Martin. Davenport ran left and Herron ran right. Rodgers completed a pass to Gardner on the right side. New cornerback Antonio Malone defended a pass to Lucas on a post pattern. Rodgers Martina and Wrobel also had minimal success. There were a couple of successful running plays.
Favre came in smoking. He hit Driver for about 10 over the middle and completed a fly pattern to Ruvell Martin on the right side. He then completed a pass to Chris Francies on the right followed by a quick slant to Rod Gardner. Rodgers completed a crossing pattern to Vince Butler and achieved a big gain on a shovel pass to Arliss Beach. Ingle Martin had one pass blocked in the line, but completed two other passes including a big gain. Wrobel suffered a pass break up by Al Harris and was sacked by A.J. Hawk. Harris dropped an interception on the next pass.
The remaining drills featured special teams again working on fake punts. Meanwhile the second team offensive linemen received more coaching on reacting to what the defense is doing.
It was a long and very interesting practice as the Packers worked on correcting the problems displayed in the first preseason game.