August 3, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers center Jeff Saturday (63) blocks during the family night scrimmage at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
This past practice stood out to me in ways that had nothing to do with the practice itself. Rather it had everything to do with the kindness of strangers, and so I feel a need to give a couple of unique shout outs.
First of all I have to give a big thank you to the ladies running the Visit Green Bay booth. My pen died in the middle of practice and they let me take one of the pens they had there. This allowed me to get the majority of the nice notes that I am going to share with all of you. So if you are by practice stop by and give the organization some love, or if you want you can stop by their website, request a visitor's guide and at the same time thank them for lending me a pen.
Second, and even more surprising, I have to give a shout out to Tony. Tony was the first person to stop me at camp and say hi. As regular readers know I often say that I attend practice with a cap that looks like a Packers helmet and frequently remind people to give me a shout if you see me. Well after practice tonight as I was packing up my stuff and collecting my thoughts when he came up and asked me "Are you this guy?" After a brief moment of wondering which embarrassing college picture went viral, I looked at his phone and saw APC pulled up on his phone. We had a nice chat about the site, where Kevin, Tex, and I are from, and I got to hear many complements about the site. I just got to say thanks Tony, getting recognized at camp made my night.
Now, on to more Packer notes. After the jump you'll find PA still wringing his hands about the offensive line, missing veterans, Worthy shows that he may be worthy of his draft status (sorry couldn't help myself), things get "Psycho", and a fight breaks out.
Biggest surprise of the day - The practice gets chippy. There was more jawing, pushing, and shoving going on in camp tonight. I'm not sure what exactly it was all tied to, but it was there. It even boiled over into a pretty good sized fight early on in camp. From what I saw it started between Jarius Wynn took exception to what an offensive lineman (I didn't quite catch the number) was doing. John Kuhn went to support the lineman and then suddenly everything became a blur of green and white jerseys in a large scrum on the field. After the fight things tended to cool down a little, but this was probably the most chippy practice I've seen thus far this year.
Pleasant surprise of the night - Diondre Borel has a good night. Borel didn't make any great splashy receptions tonight. There wasn't a punt or kick return for a TD. He really hasn't done anything to put him head and shoulders a head of Tori Gurley to be honest. That said, I think I'm starting to see why he may be slightly ahead of Gurley at the moment. Borel gets an interesting amount of touches and lines up in many similar ways as Randall Cobb. He's Cobb's back up returner. Borel and Cobb get the lionshare of reverses and I have seen each of them line up in the backfield out of the shotgun and then go in motion to the slot. It's interesting. Tonight it even took a step further with Borel getting a reverse option pass tonight. Like I said, Borel didn't so anything eye popping, but it's interesting to watch Borel's role grow along with Cobb's so far in camp.
Disappointment of the night - Offensive line play. From this point on one of the reoccurring things you are going to read in this report is the fact that a number of veterans had the night off. That meant no Aaron Rodgers, no Donald Driver, no Charles Woodson, and most specific for this particular portion of the post, no Jeff Saturday. This combined with the injuries to Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod meant that it was a little thin on the offensive line. The performance was easily the worst I've seen in camp. It doesn't help the matter that the defense also spent a large portion of the scrimmage time practicing their "Psycho" packages. Time and time again those pyscho packages would cut throw the line quickly. To me it wasn't Newhouse being out, Clay Matthews didn't really have a career night, it was the middle that was penetrated early and often. I don't know if Saturday is just that much better than Evan Dietrich-Smith; EDS just had a bad night; or that Saturday is just that much better at making line calls than EDS at this point, but something was very off with the OL.
Offensive performance of the night - Jordy Nelson cleans up. Nelson made simple catches and circus grabs tonight. It was a pretty performance. By my unofficial count (with the help of the gentleman sitting next to me) he dropped only one ball. This is pretty impressive since he was getting passes that were a bit all over the place due to the pressure coming on Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman (who both looked a little out of sorts tonight).
Defense performance of the night - Jerel Worthy makes some noise. There are a few players that most Packer fans really want to to succeed. Without a doubt, Worthy is one of them this year. At least every day I come across a couple fans who sit down, find Worthy, point him out to their buddy, and then sit back and wait for him to amaze them. He hasn't done this often so far. Now this isn't his fault and he's having a generally okay camp, but so far it's been more even keel rather than dynamic. Tonight was different. Worthy did pretty well in one on one drill winning some battles there. He registered at least one sack (maybe more depending on how they are counted in practice), he was able to collapse the pocket and flush the passer on more than one occasion, and deflected a pass. Great night for him.
PA pay attention! How Mike Neal is looking. The long and short of this is pretty okay. He is looking fine in one on one drills. He was getting good pressure tonight with the OL seemingly out of whack. The times I've watched him he's quick off the ball and is able to get good push. He's not getting a ton of opportunities due to the suspension, but that's understandable. He's not necessarily looking like a starter at the point either. I think the best thing for Neal right now is that expectations are lower for him this year. He's not expected to be a starter and the replacement for Cullen Jenkins anymore. In that way he can go out, do what he does, and hopefully contribute.
Fan interaction of the day - The Faux Driver. I mentioned earlier that DD had the night off tonight, but that didn't stop the legions of his fans to try and find him on the field. At one point he was misidentified by someone who thought (what I imagine was a coach) was Driver just not in uniform. This was spread around a bit until a little girl yelled "Hey Driver!" loud and continuously until the guy turned around wondering if the girl was talking to him. At this point people realized it wasn't him....and then just continued to search in vain.
PA's controversial call - Jeff Saturday may be the most important move of the offseason. Forget the trade for Worthy. Forget the trade for Casey Hayward. Forget all the other offseason signings. The Saturday acquisition is probably going to be the one yielding the most reward. He may only be a short term solution, but the line has played better with him in there. Having a wily and respected veteran anchoring the line is just what this team needs. The fact that he is respected in the locker room and hunger for another championship before he retires is even better.
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