Today was another day in shells. Since there is much less contact during these practices, expectations for the practice need to shift. Most of today was spent in walk through and preparation for the upcoming game against the Bengals. Lots of scout teams. Lots of players running around in number "18" and "84" jerseys (to simulate where A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham would be lining up. That mixed with the fact that the a good portion of the backups aren't running plays they should know causes me to lower expectations on a snap by snap basis.
That said, it was a good day for some guys who desperately needed it. After the jump you'll find two stories of players having big days after some previous struggles, curiosity in the special teams units, and Jarrett Boykin still making waves.
Biggest surprise of the day: The line up of the number 1 kick return unit. With the Packers healthier than they have been in a long time it was interesting to see the number one special teams units take shape. One player I have been keeping an eye on with these units is Tori Gurley. I figured if he is a core contirbutor in these units it might be his way on to the roster. Earlier in practice he had been working with the ones on many of the drills, but lately he went back down to the two's. My surprise today was seeing him out there with the ones on kick return. His best play of last week's game was a block on a kick return, and seeing him with that unit seems to give hope he may make the roster after all. In addition to Gurley, it was also interesting to see Daniel Muir and Vic So'oto running with the one kick return unit as well.
Pleasant surprise of the day: Jarrett Boykin continues to make plays. Boykin has really come on over the last couple weeks. He was at it again today, making a couple TD catches and being a reliable target underneath when the number two offense was on the field. I highly doubt he's going to make the roster, but he is a good candidate for the practice squad and possibly making the team when WR isn't quite as jammed in the future.
Disappointment of the day: Turnovers continue. Alex Green fumbled a handoff (which probably would of been attributed to Graham Harrell technically). Harrell and B.J. Coleman also each had an interception on the day as well. The interceptions I can live with, the fumbled handoff shouldn't happen.
Offensive player of the day: Ryan Taylor shows up. Taylor hasn't impressed me in camp so far. For all those people who swear that Tom Crabtree should be cut in favor of Taylor....well I understand where you are coming from but trust me when I say that Taylor has not put in the camp Crabtree has this year. Now that said, Taylor had some great grabs today. He caught a few TD passes, and made some impressive catches in traffic. I'm still ambivalent towards Taylor on the roster, but it's hard to deny that he showed up big time today.
Defensive player of the day: Sam Shields shows up. Shields has been dogged so far in camp. He had a slow start and some of the younger guys have had an impressive showing. It's also never a good sign in the eyes of many Packer fans if Jarrett Bush is out playing you consistently either. Today Shields was picked on by the backup QB's and Shields rose to the occasion. He kept good coverage, broke up plays, and managed to snag an interception off of B.J. Coleman, wrestling the ball out of the hands of Gurley. It should also be noted that another time keeping good coverage with Gurley and breaking up a similar pass he got called for pass interference.
PA's controversial call: I think the Packers keep five WR's. This is a thought that has been brewing in my head for a while now, and it's one that will get a full post some time in the next few days. Coming into the year the Packers were expected to be loaded at WR with seven NFL quality receivers ready to go and maybe more if there was some surprises in camp. Diondre Borel and Gurley were expected to take a big step forward in their development. As camp has gone on though, Borel and Gurley aren't quite as wonderful as they were made out to be. Each one has their place and their role, but it's not a critical role and neither player has done much to show they are needed on the squad. I keep asking myself the question why should the Packers keep more receivers when these two are under performing and extra help could be used along the defensive line? Especially when the talents of the D-line range so dramatically.