You know how there are some movies where things are just getting good, you start to get into it....and then it just ends? You look at your watch, double check it against the clock, maybe look at the case to double check the run time, and then say to yourself "Is that it?"
Yeah, that was practice on Thursday.
From the reports that I've seen, coach McCarthy cut practice short due to the mounting injuries. It makes a certain amount of sense. The players are getting a bit restless. There was another fight tonight and another notable injury. Sam Shields went down hard and injured his elbow. So with extra contact and injury list growing it was probably a wise call to pull the plug on things and prevent further harm.
The overarching thought I've had the last couple days is how much the defense seems to be catching up to the offense as of late. Yesterday the defense was able to prevent the offense from scoring in their two minute drills near the end of practice. Tonight seemed similar. It was another night filled with sacks, scrambling QB's, passes thrown high, and me puzzled who to highlight for the offensive performance of the night. It didn't help that I forged paying attention to 7-on-7 in order to watch the 1-on-1 blocking drills and then the scrimmages were cut short. It's clear to me that the improvement in the defense has been the pass rush coming along. However, I can't decide whether the pass rush is coming along because the offensive line is struggling (especially the backups at offensive line) or if the pass rush really is coming along.
Biggest surprise of the night - Defensive linemen rushing out of a two point stance. This is something I've noticed here and there, but really struck me tonight. On more than one occasion I watched Mike Neal work from a two point stance in the 1-on-1 pass protection drills. I'm not sure if this is part of plan as a part of a "Psycho" package, personal preference, or some weird and unknown injury, but there it was. I've also noticed Jerel Worthy do this a few times as well. All I know is that I'm planning on watching for this tendency in some preseason games to get a better context of what is going on with it.
Pleasant surprise of the night - Desmond Bishop making plays. He was going to be my original choice for defensive performance of the night, but there was another player who did a bit more. I also wanted to highlight someone other than a starter there tonight. Bishop though was still getting in the mix of things and got a pretty pick. Bishop jumped a Graham Harrell pass intended for Tom Crabtree. In the end though it's just good to see Bishop healthy and getting in the mix of things again. With Bishop, D.J. Smith, and Jamari Lattimore all having a good camp it will be interesting to see how the ILB position shakes out this year.
Disappointment of the night - Backup TE's dropping balls. It's not a good sign for Ryan Taylor if Tom Crabtree is consistently out performing him night after night. Taylor has graced this place before due to his drops and if he wasn't making the team more for his blocking and special teams I would say he's in danger of losing his spot. One guy not so lucky is Brandon Bostick. He's had some bad drops too, which continued tonight. If he is going to hold on much longer he needs to make some noise in San Diego.
Offensive performance of the night - Alex Green continues to impress me. Green is still looking good....or at least as good as you can when they aren't really tackling you. He has great speed and acceleration. He had the best run tonight in my opinion, showing some good cuts and wiggle (although again since they aren't tackling it's hard to know exactly how good a run it was). He also flashed why he was a third round pick with a great catch on a screen pass. The pass was thrown behind him which required him to make a twisting catch in traffic in order to get the ball, turn, and make it up the field.. He might be the main guy I'm going to be watching this Thursday.
Defensive performance of the night - Brandian Ross shines. He's not in the mix for #2 CB, but he does make some good plays here and there. Tonight there wasn't something as spectular as jumping a route, but he did keep very good coverage overall. On one particular play he kept good man coverage, but the receiver was able to secure the ball. Ross continued to fight through the play and was able to wrestle the ball out forcing the incompletion (almost got an interception out of the play as well). Later in the practice he was able to snag a pick of Harrell (although if it were an actual game the play itself would have probably been a sack).
PA pay attention! Rookies and special teams. Tonight was the first night in a while that I was able to get some good looks at special teams units in action. It was rather odd formations tonight, with lots of practices of safety punts and safety punt returns, but I'll give you the update as best I can. Right now the primary rookies working with the special team one units are Casey Hayward, Jerel Worthy, and Jerron McMillian. I'm not sure how much of this was due to injuries to players who might otherwise have this spot (for example Tori Gurley), but a rep with the ones is still a rep with the ones.
Fan interaction of the day - The Woo Girls. Fans at camp tend to be a pretty excitable bunch. People love the fact that football is back and appreciate anything that looks like hope for the Packers. Tonight there was a large group of the female persuasion that decided to give a "woo!" every time a receiver would catch a ball. It started with DD making plays, and continued when he decided to lift his shirt for them. Then it moved to Randal Cobb ("We love you too Cobb"). Finally it just occured anytime a WR caught a ball in practice.
Only at Packers camp - Gone in seconds. Heaven help me, but I love it when I see a lineman riding a little kid's bike. Now I'm not talking a teenager with a ten speed, but a young child. Tonight I was following who I believe was B.J. Raji, but I didn't get a good look at his face (you know being night and all) riding a bike of a five year old. The Packer could barely fit on it, and the kid couldn't carry his pads, but the child did walk proudly behind the Packer wearing a kid's helmet while the dad walked with carrying the players helmet and pads. The Packer just seemed to love the attention from the fans soaking in the sight. As I was one of those people I suddenly was passed by what I can only assume was a DB riding a teen's ten speed. Honestly all I saw was a blur and dreadlocks and felt the wind pass by me.....then I saw the poor teen struggling to keep up. Either that particular Packer had a hot date to get to or I think he missed the point of the bike thing.
PA's controversial call - I'm finding peace with the possibility of Jarrett Bush as the #2 CB. Don't get me wrong, I think Davon House is going to win it in the end (just a gut feeling I have); but if Bush is the starter week 1 I'm okay with it. Bush was in the #2 spot again tonight and had some pretty good coverage. He was still beaten here and there, but most of those were just great throws from Rodgers and great catches by the receivers. Hard to fault Bush for that. It could be that I'm just believing the lines that I'm giving out at practice in the stands and here on the site, but Bush should be okay if that's the way the team goes....especially if he earns the spot after a long preseason long battle for the job.
As always, please leave questions about what you would like to see followed up on in camp. Practice starts at 3:30 CST (4:30 EST), which means my final checks of the comments will be around 2 PM CST (3 PM EST). If you are at camp and want to give me a shout (or you know save a seat for me) I'm the guy with the legal pad and cap that looks like a Packers' helmet.
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