The Green Bay Packers’ Family Night scrimmage is sold out, with 70,000 fans expected for the glorified practice.
Coach Mike McCarthy hopes his team puts on a better show than it did during parts of Thursday's practice at Ray Nitschke Field.
“I thought the energy to start practice was poor through the special teams, and I thought the pre-snap penalties in the last three team periods were not good at all. So, we had an up-and-down night,” McCarthy said.
The energy got better as the night went on. During a special-teams period, undrafted rookie Otis Merrill blocked M.D. Jennings onto the rubber track alongside the field, with the two almost tumbling into the side of the Don Hutson Center. Later, during a blitz period, Diondre Borel caught a short pass and was fighting for extra yards against Davon House when guard T.J. Lang slammed into House in hopes of springing Borel free. A couple defensive players took exception, and fellow guard Josh Sitton rushed in to help his teammate. Order was restored and it didn’t appear any punches were thrown. Late in practice, Lang and nose tackle B.J. Raji exchanged words after a goal-line play.
Still, McCarthy was annoyed by too many false starts by the offense and offsides by the defense. Last season, Green Bay and Indianapolis were tied for the fewest penalties in the league (76) and the Packers have the second-fewest penalties in the last two years (154; Atlanta has 151).
“I thought the offense was extremely productive,” McCarthy said. “The defensive pre-snap penalties was totally out of balance. A number of big plays off of those opportunities.”
New injuries: S Sean Richardson (thumb); FB Jon Hoese (hamstring); OLB Brad Jones (knee); G Ray Dominguez (ankle); TE D.J. Williams (back).
Active PUP list: OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring), DL Johnny Jones (knee), G Jaymes Brooks (hamstring), T Derek Sherrod (leg) and TE Andrew Quarless (knee).
Old injuries: RB Marc Tyler (shoulder), TE Eric Lair (knee), T Mike McCabe (hip), DL Mike Daniels (knee and groin), WR Tori Gurley (groin).
Returning: WR Curenski Gilleylen (quad), DL Ryan Pickett (knee).
The week ahead
Family Night starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. After an off day on Saturday, the team will practice at 7 p.m. on Sunday and Monday and 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Practice is closed to the public and media on Wednesday, with the first preseason game at 7 p.m. on Thursday at San Diego.
— Linebacker Desmond Bishop (calf) and fullback John Kuhn (knee) dressed in shells and took part in individual drills. More than likely, they will be held out of Family Night, with their first padded practice coming on Sunday.
— Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings with an 18-yard touchdown to cap a two-minute drill. Of note, rookie Jerel Worthy made one of his first big plays of training camp by slicing into the backfield to drop Brandon Saine. On the next play, however, Worthy jumped offside and was pulled in favor of Jarius Wynn.
— The toast of training camp, Davon House, is no longer the No. 3 cornerback. Jarrett Bush was back in that role, with House the No. 4 corner and Sam Shields still No. 5. There’s probably not to read into that move, other than it’s a wide-open competition for that slot.
— Earlier in the week, general manager Ted Thompson said the fireworks were his favorite part of Family Night because he doesn’t like watching the Packers play the Packers. McCarthy got a kick out of that comment. “I find it humorous that he enjoys the fireworks because I think he’s in bed before they even start. ... We need live action. It’s historically been a good game, good scrimmage. It’s good preparation to get us ready for our first preseason game. It’s needed. Especially coming off tonight’s practice.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.