As the preseason games come and go the pace of practice has changed. The first part of camp was clearly about installing the offense and defense; teaching the scheme. Now, the scout teams are emerging and the game planning has begun. It's interesting because now some of the backup players play as much out of position as they do in their position for the team.
The other major note I have is that once again the offensive line worked out on the JUGS machines on Sunday. I personally think it's odd, but there were two explanations offered up by those sitting around me watching. The first is that the Packers intend to run more offensive linemen eligible to receive passes this coming year. I proposed something similar in the offseason, but I think I would be surprised if that would be the case this year. Why take talented skill players out of the game for more linemen if you are going to pass? Is the little surprise received worth more than some of the mismatches you would get by having guys like Jordy Nelson or Jermichael Finley out there? The other explanation given was that it teaches the lineman quick hands. If the lineman can have quick hands it means that they are going to be able to have a quick punch and improve their blocking. I don't know enough about blocking technique to say if it's true or not, but it's an interesting theory nonetheless.
In today's practice D.J. Smith still looks pretty good, Casey Hayward continues to get his sea legs (or NFL legs to be more accurate), and PA talks a whole lot about the offensive line.
Biggest surprise of the day - Andrew Datko isn't awful. You probably have seen reports that Datko got some reps with the ones in practice. In his time in there he didn't blow blocks and seemed to handle his assignments reasonably well. He's not dominating out there (he was still beaten a couple times in one-on-ones today by Daniel Muir and Lawrence Guy), but he didn't look too bad either. I know there are some Packer fans ready to cut him after he started slow in San Diego last week, but be patient. He's coming around slowly and he's going to need time to develop. He's looking about as good as Herb Taylor right now, and clearly knows the offense better than Reggie Wells (not saying much but it's true). If he can get his technique down a bit more and build some confidence he may still into the interesting prospect people were hoping for a month ago.
Pleasant surprise of the day - D.J. Smith is pretty good. I know many of us are hurting over the injury to Desmond Bishop, but the silver lining of that cloud is that D.J. Smith looks pretty darn good. Today he almost intercepted a pass, jumping to breaking it up and having it bounce of his shoulder pads. He also came in on run play to "thump" Marc Taylor, but came in with enough force to knock Taylor to the ground. Smith has had a strong camp so far and the defense shouldn't miss a beat with him in there.
Disappointment of the day - Tommie Draheim gets pushed around. Today I watched one-on-one instead of seven-on-seven. Generally the offensive line is coming around and was able to give about as good as they got yesterday; Draheim though seemed to struggle out there. Sure he won a few battles, most notably against Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove, but he was smoked by B.J. Raji. He was beat by Daniel Muir. At one point he was literally tossed around by Mike Daniels (who just pulled Draheim out of his way). Before the season I thought this kid had the potential to be the center of the future...now I'm not sure. He's not ready now and maybe a couple years on the PS can help.
Offensive player of the day - Reggie Wells works his way in. Today's offensive highlight isn't because he had a standout day in camp, but rather the hope that he brings. I got to see Wells in pads for the first time today and he looks okay. He's not blowing people out of the water and he's not beating Taylor and Datko at the moment, but he is doing okay. He's learning the ropes and figuring things out as he goes along, but he clearly has enough talent to be exactly what we need, offensive line depth. I know I feel a lot better with having a guy like that on the roster right now instead of just going to Taylor or hoping that Datko instantly turns better.
Defensive player of the day - Casey Hayward continues to grow. Hayward got another pick today, jumping a route. He is still a bit hit and miss in coverage, sometimes he bites hard for a double move or gets turned around, but then the next play he'll be shadowing the guy and making a good break up. He's coming along and should be a pretty darn good corner as he figures more things out. He also was able to get some reps with the ones today. It should be an interesting race when Davon House gets healthy to see who wraps this starting job up.
PA pay attention! Sean Richardson might be higher on the depth chart than I expected. I've been asked many questions about Richardson, and how he's doing. I'm still not quite ready to give a full breakdown of his game and where his weaknesses are, but a few notes to tide those curious about him while I continue to gather information. I'm convinced that Richardson is moving up the depth chart. Right now he's making appearances with the #1 special team units and is able to make some plays and break ups in practice. Right now I would describe him as adequate. Since he didn't stand out against the Chargers I don't know much about his tackling ability, and his coverage skills are pretty good but not good enough to start. I am starting to think he may make the team.
Only at Packer training camp - Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang goof around. If you were worried about chemistry on the team, and especially the offensive line, don't. You probably know the story of Lang and Sitton changing around their names in OTA's to Friday and Sunday. If you follow either one on Twitter you know that they frequently mention the other and take friendly jabs. Today it was fun to watch them play catch with a stray football during warm ups, even just snapping the ball to the other during some of the stretches. They are clearly friends and love spending time together and it's just fun to watch them relax on the field.
Fan interaction of the day - Jordy pedals for his life. One of the little routines of camp is calling my wife and letting her know I'm coming home as I walk out of practice. On Sunday as I was finishing the phone call I was startled by a woman yelling "JORDY!!!" at the top of her lungs. When I looked up I saw a middle aged woman chasing Jordy Nelson (who was on a bike) with her arms flailing about in the air. Jordy was, wisely, pedaling away as fast as he could. When Nelson got out of site the woman put her arms down walked back to her teenage daughters look at them with a smile and said "See what I do for you." It was....odd, and a bit cool at the same time.
PA's controversial call - Marshall Newhouse may get on the field soon. This may be hope more than anything else, but today he was at least on the field. After the injury I kept looking for him among the injured players and he just wasn't there. Greg Jennings (who also received a concussion in the Family Night scrimmage) wasn't there, and hasn't been seen by me since that family night. It was good to see Newhouse and something I'm attributing as a good sign...if only because I'm a sucker.
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