I'm going to warn you right now that there isn't much on Cedric Benson in this particular post. He really wasn't much of a factor in practice on Monday and so my notes and observations went elsewhere; though I must admit it was good to see him on the field and participating in a couple drills. I'm hoping to see more of him in the next couple days, but right now I don't have much to report there.
I'll say this though, his signing couldn't come at a better time. Right now the running back group is looking....well...sad. Alex Green is on a snap count in order to help his recovery (mostly because the Packers are paranoid about health at the moment and I can't blame them one bit), Marc Tyler is well...I'll get to that in a bit. Nic Cooper is there as well at fullback.
The rest? Well let's review the injuries at running back as of Tuesday. James Starks has his turf toe and is week to week. He wasn't at practice today as far as I could tell. Brandon Saine was there, but he didn't practice due to his hamstring issues. Du'ane Bennett is hurt with a knee injury. Also, John Kuhn came up injured in practice today with an ankle sprain. So now the Packers are down to two halfbacks (one a half really when you consider Green's snap count) and a fullback. Forget any potential upgrade that Benson might be, the Packers need him on the roster right now just so they can run adequate practices.
After the jump you'll find some good news about injuries for a change, PA worrying that he may have been wrong about Tyler, and Jordy Nelson is still good.
Biggest surprise of the day - The return of Marshall Newhouse and Tori Gurley. So I felt pretty smart in the stands today as I watched that big number 74 come out in full pads. I had just finished typing that I felt good about him coming back soon before I left for camp and then there he was, in pads and practicing. It was the first time that the full starting offensive line was together since Family Night, and they still look good. Newhouse wasn't alone in his return either, Tori Gurley returned to the practice field as well. Gurley had a few grabs, including a nice on in traffic. My favorite play for him today though was when he caught the ball and then just ran through Dion Turner, it was like in some of those old Madden games of a few years ago when they first put in the truck stick.
Pleasant surprise of the day - Casey Hayward continues to hang in there. Hayward does not come with the same reputation of the two guys drafted ahead of him this year, but like them, he's still making a strong run a starting job. Today he continued his reps with the #1 defense and turned in another generally strong day. He's a player who is getting more confident with each rep he gets and should work out to be a good corner for the Packers. I don't think that Davon House has been unseated by Hayward's play yet, but Hayward is turning into a nice insurance policy should House's injured shoulder turn out to be worse than reported.
Disappointment of the day - I may have been wrong about Marc Tyler. So the last couple days I have been interested to see more of Tyler, especially for his power running. Today's practice cause a bit of doubt on that end for me. Yesterday I mentioned how D.J. Smith came in and flattened him, well today that happened again....but it was Dion Turner who made the hit. The same Dion Turner who not too long later was rolled over by Gurley. His getting knocked to the ground this consistently makes me wonder about his ability to push piles like I thought he would. Mix this with a bad hand off exchange causing a fumble and a couple dropped passes and it wasn't a good day for Tyler. The good news for him? Since RB is so thin right now he's going to get plenty more opportunities to change my mind tomorrow and on Thursday.
Offensive player of the day - Jordy Nelson. Nelson made some great catches in traffic today. One in particular was reaching high to catch the ball between defenders in stride and then being able to pull everything down to get some yards after the catch. I still have lofty expectations for him.
Defensive player of the day - Sean Richardson shows some of his skills. This one shouldn't be read into too much since I spent a lot of time watching Richardson in particular today (trying to go through some of the PA pay attention questions still - and keep sending these by the way), but what I saw was pretty good. He was able to make smooth drop backs into his zone, react quickly to run plays and fill the hole, he even almost got an interception off a tipped ball. Richardson is an interesting prospect for the Packers right now, but he's got to shine in the games if he wants to be more than a PS body.
PA pay attention! Where is Mike McCarthy? One of the more interesting questions I've got was where MM is during camp. I decided to take some extra notes on that today to try and address this a bit better than I did when it was asked me in the comment section. As you can imagine McCarthy tends to hang around the offense a bit more than the defense, but he does wander back and forth. Often it depends on the drill being run at the time. For example, when the one of the QB's are working on timing with the WR's he is going to be there more often than not. He'll watch over special teams practices more than say some of the offensive line drills. He'll often stand back a bit during 11-on-11 or 7-on-7's and watch both units as a whole and let the assistants get the players up and ready to go for each particular play.
Fan interaction of the day - Is Nelson the new Donald Driver? I love Packer fans, but sometimes we can be irrationally attached to players...thinking that they can be better than they really are. One of the most awkward conversations I tend to find myself in while sitting in the stands tends to come up when a fan starts to talk about how great DD is, or how excited they are for Dezman Moses, and I just shoot them down like I'm writing a comment on here. I get this sort of odd look on their face like they don't know what to say next and the conversation kind of ends. Anyways, DD is 90% of the time the guy who gets this kind of love around camp. Fans going nuts for any catch he makes and that sort of thing...but I'm noticing more ground swelling for Nelson on this same angle. Not Jennings (when he's there), not Cobb (although that's starting too), and definitely not James Jones. My personification of this today was a small child wearing a Nelson jersey yelling his name over and over...even when Nelson wasn't on the field for the particular play.
Training camp tip - Make a plan to deal with the more dull parts of practice. No great stories out of practice today. Instead I'll give a tip for anyone coming to visit, especially if you have young children...plan for some dull points. It breaks my heart to watch people make room in their day to go down for camp, bring the whole family and then leave 15 minutes to half-hour into things. At this point they are still in unit drills and the good stuff hasn't really come around yet. What typically happens is the kids are just sitting there, it's hot, they are thirst/hungry and the food is expensive and then the parents just give up and go home. Today I sat next to a young family who had a plan. They had a one and a half year old but they made it through 2/3rds of practice. They had grapes, cheese crackers, and played with their son as much as watched practice but they were able to be there for some of the best parts of practice. So if you are taking the family out, or just have a short attention span yourself, find a plan on how to keep you or your loved ones engaged through the opening parts of practice. You'll thank yourself later for having done so and get more out of the experience.
PA controversial call - I am itching to watch the game on Thursday. I really try not to read too much into the preseason games on a macro level, rather just trying to get a feel for individual players, but there was just something unsettling about the game last Thursday. It's left me when a foul taste in my mouth as I watch practices and leaves me with a few twinges of doubt about the upcoming season. The rational part of my mind keeps reminding me that it's only preseason and things won't look that bad...but I know I will feel much better if they can look a bit sharper when they host the Browns in a couple days.
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