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Green Bay Packers Training Camp: Notes, Thoughts, and Observations 8/20

Are these men the primary reason Graham Harrell has struggled in the preseason?  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Are these men the primary reason Graham Harrell has struggled in the preseason? Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Let's go all old school for a moment and simulate a flavor of two-a-days, two practice reports in one day! The talk among the crowd today was B.J. Coleman, with more than one voice asking why he wasn't the backup instead of Graham Harrell. Part of this was because Coleman happened to ride the bike of a little girl whose family was sitting near me, so he did have a soft spot in their heart today. Despite any bias formed by this family and confirmation bias of those watching practice when Coleman's play was highlighted consistently, part of this talk had to due with some good balls thrown by Coleman in practice today. Coleman being the backup is an interesting thought, but not necessarily one I would agree with right now. It's true I'm not the biggest Harrell supporter at the moment, but he does look better (or at least more comfortable) than Coleman and has throughout all of camp. Neither has excelled or truly outshined the other in camp, for example today each threw an interception in practice and each have their share of missed throws. Unless a move is made, Harrell is the backup and there is no competition for that position.

Otherwise another beautiful day at training camp. Hard to believe that there aren't many practices left. Soon the cuts will be coming down and then it's time for the final 53 to prepare for the San Francisco 49ers. Today's practice featured another familiar face returning to practice, Casey Hayward makes it tougher on Sam Shields, and Tommie Draheim takes pride in a little bike.

Biggest surprise of the day: Diondre Borel back in action. Number 19 was back in pads today and getting targets once again. Most of the targets tended to be short yardage plays, but targets are targets. It was good to see him healthy again. Hopefully we will get to see the Borel vs. Tori Gurley contest in earnest over the last two preseason games.

Pleasant surprise of the day: Jermichael Finley getting his groove back. I'm not sure I would say that Finley was the stand out best performer on offense, but it was great to see 88 catching passes and making plays. Today Finley was a key weapon in the red zone part of drills and was able to make some plays over the middle, turn and move the ball up the field quickly. Hopefully can stay loose on game day and let some of this transition to Sundays.

Disappointment of the day: Randall Cobb is just a step late. There were a few plays where Cobb was targeted and he was just a step behind where the ball was located. This happened with a different QB's, but also in a close enough period of time that I don't think it was just your garden variety overthrows. They could be, but my gut told me something more was happening. I still think that Cobb is going to be an exciting part of the offense, but his play has been a bit uneven as of late.....hopefully this will turn around soon.

Offensive performance of the day: The starting offensive line. There is a noticeable difference between what the starting O-line can do and what the backup o-line can do. I was going to highlight Cedric Benson or Alex Green here today, but really they were just running through some nice holes for the most part. For that I'm going to tip my hat to the big men up front.

Defensive performance of the day: Casey Hayward starts to even out his play. Hayward had his moments in camp today that were impressive. He had good coverage more than once forcing the incomplete pass. He also picked off Harrell on a jump ball pass intended for Gurley. Harrell threw the ball high intending for Gurley to go up and make a play. Hayward and Gurley both went up but Hayward was the one who came away with the ball. Most improtant though was the fact that Hayward didn't give up many give up many big plays. If Hayward can continue to minimize this bad play it may not be good news for Sam Shields who has some catching up to do if he wants to get that starting position. Today Hayward and Jarrett Bush got most of the work with the ones, but Shields did get some reps with the ones in dime situations.

PA pay attention! Zone and power running. Funny story, due to some appointments today and when the post for yesterday's practice went up I didn't have an opportunity to check for questions for today. My wife did though and she texted me this question while I was actually at practice. Stroh did a good job answering the question and my observations at camp really echo his statement. The Packers primarily block out of a zone concept and a fair amount of runs used demonstrate this, but there more traditional power running schemes mixed in as well. This was true today as they were practicing their runs as it you see in some of the preseason games. Perhaps the most interesting play to me that I saw against Cleveland, and in camp today, was an off tackle run to the left out of the shotgun. Typically I think the best opportunity to run block would be behind Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton, but there the Packers were gaining five yards and seeing some nice holes behind T.J. Lang and Marshall Newhouse. Anyways, this was not a one cut ZBS style play, rather it was an old school off tackle run, just out of the shotgun formation.

Only at Packer Training Camp: The flat tire. The offensive linemen have to line up to take the smallest bike they can find. That's the only explanation I can think of for how many times I see an extra large man on a bike that looks like it just lost the training wheels. Today that was the case for Tommie Draheim who had the bike's pint-sized owner in toe carrying a helmet about as big as he was while wearing a child's costume helmet. The best part though was the bike's flat tire as Draheim peddled along. Got to hand it to him though, he just held his head high with a big smile as he slowly made his way up to the locker room.

PA's controversial call: Harrell's chicken and egg conundrum continues. Last weekend a large part of APC was wrapped up in the question of whether Harrell looked bad because he was playing bad or whether he looked bad because the pieces around him were bad. I'm sorry to say that this question wasn't really answered today. Harrell had his share of missed passes, some poor decisions, and still does not throw a great deep ball (if he would have had a bit more distance on the pass to Gurley it wouldn't of been picked off). At the same time there were multiple times where Harrell would throw a pass on the money and it would be dropped, or the receiver just wasn't looking for the ball at all. Heck, at one point there was a botched snap from the center when Harrell was sitting in the shotgun. The buck has to stop with someone in an offense and that's typically the QB, so I'm inclined to heap most of the blame on Harrell, but there is a good argument to be had for the pieces around him failing him as well.

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