July 26, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers helmets during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, WI. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
A bit of advice to any who are planning on attending a training camp session; when you sense a perfect storm brewing for attendance go early. In fact, pick out a time that you think you should be able to get a seat and then arrive at least 15 minutes before that. Seriously, follow that advice and then thank me later.
Today was a beautiful Saturday in Green Bay, not too hot with a nice breeze and no rain. It was also the first day in pads. The day of the week, weather, and first padded practice came together for a pretty high attendance at practice today. Practice was suppose to start at 8:15 AM. By the time I parked and made it down to the bleachers it was about five to eight. They were already full and practice was already starting. After about fifteen minutes the event staff started to fill in spaces where people had saved seats. Being alone today it wasn't hard for me to get seated then, but I watched the event staff work for the next hour and half to two hours trying to seat everyone. This was in addition to all the people standing by the fence on both sides of the field and just the general public milling around.
Overall it was a good practice today. Some interesting developments in the much vaunted CB battle as well as some answers as to what the Packers are going doing with Randall Cobb. Specific thoughts after the jump.
Biggest surprise of the day - The use of Randall Cobb. Today I saw Cobb line up at WR and RB. He was in the slot, he was out wide, he was returning kicks and punts, he was the single back in the short gun, he was the in the "I." They ran him up the middle, gave him a couple tosses, ran him on reverses, he caught screen passes (both out of the backfield and out wide) as well as the traditional down the field routes and receptions. Heck I even saw him as the backup holder on Thursday. If this continues in camp then we may be in store for a Percy Harvin or Darren Sproles type role for Cobb this coming year.
Pleasant surprise of the day - Tori Gurley getting reps with the first team punt squad. I know there are lots of people in Packer nation who are hopeful that Gurley can become a productive member of the team. He has the size and ability that not many of the WR's do, which makes him an interesting red zone threat as well as a guy who has a knack for blocking kicks and punts. Seeing him with the first team punt fielding squad is further evidence that Gurley is not just trying to shine in 7 on 7 drills. If he can become a core special teams player than that's not just a way to the final 53, but also the game day active 46....great news for all the Gurley-men out there (sorry couldn't help myself).
Disappointment of the day - Sam Shields. One of the reoccuring lines of camp thus far has been that Shields needs to step up after losing his starting spot to Jarrett Bush. Well, today that didn't happen. Shields was burnt by Gurley, Cobb, James Jones, Donald Driver, and Dale Moss today by my informal count. The Driver one was bad too, Shields was juked out of his jock by DD. Furthering the bad news for Shields is that it looks like Davon House has now passed him up for the Packers dimeback spot. Long story short, not a good day for Shields.
Defensive performance of the day - Casey Hayward gets a pick. Hayward is starting to show those ball skills that had some draft gurus so high on him. Today Hayward jumped a slant from Graham Harrell to Diondre Borel. He got it pretty well interrupted and was able to keep the ball alive and pull it in for the interception. It was a good play. Nice to see him and House showing some positive signs early in camp.
Offensive performance of the day - Gurley makes some tough grabs. The offense was not quite as sharp as it was on Thursday, but still looks mighty good considering it's the third practice. There were a few dropped balls, but also some nice deep passes. Really there was nothing super fantastic about the performances, but one play by Gurley gets the nod for this honor. Gurley made a tough catch over the middle which was followed up by a big hit from Tramon Williams. Gurley hung on though and completed the reception. It was good see that toughness from Gurley. It was better to see that toughness from Williams whose shoulder must be feeling much better than last year.
PA's controversial call - Get excited about D.J. Williams. There have been countless times where a guy starts camp hot but then it trails off as the grind goes on. Maybe that will happen here, and maybe it won't, but right now D.J. Williams is stringing together a fine set of practices. Today he was making good catches over the middle and getting down the field and making some receptions deep. That's a good sign with Jermichael Finley still out and Andrew Quarless sidelined for the indefinite future.