Head coach Mike McCarthy said today that the Green Bay Packers will focus on running the ball more efficiently Saturday night in the 57th annual Midwest Shrine game at Lambeau Field against the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers struggled last Saturday against San Diego behind their young offensive line.
Green Bay averaged just 2.4 yards per rush in their new zone-blocking offense against the Chargers with 21 of their 44 total yards rushing coming on Aaron Rodgers’ scrambles. Najeh Davenport, Samkon Gado, Noah Herron and Arliss Beach combined for just 14 carries and 23 yards.
“We need to run the ball more in this game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said today. “We need to get going on offense and give our backs more of an opportunity. The most important statistic in running the football is attempts.
“That San Diego game told us where we are at as a football team and that’s obviously where we don’t want to be.”
Unlike last Saturday, the Packers will face a more conventional 4-3 defense, which the offensive line goes against in practices. The Chargers employ a 3-4 defense, which the Packers used only two practices to prepare for.
Overall, McCarthy is seeking improvement in a number of areas, but mainly the overall tone of the team.
“We need to improve,” McCarthy said. “We need to improve as far as our physical style of play. We need to improve as far as execution and game management, and all the personnel groupings and special teams. We need to improve all the way around.”
Samkon Gado, who had missed workouts earlier this week because of a groin injury, returned to practices on Thursday. His status for Saturday’s exhibition against Atlanta is 50-50, McCarthy said after the evening practice.
Players who did not participate in the evening practice and are not expected to play against the Falcons on Saturday include safety Atari Bigby (hand), cornerbacks Will Blackmon (foot), Mike Hawkins (knee) and Patrick Dendy (ankle), defensive end Dave Tollefson (rib), defensive lineman Kenny Petersen (ankle), offensive lineman Will Whitticker (hamstring), linebackers Kurt Campbell (hamstring) and Kevin Schimmelman (shoulder), and defensive lineman Kendrick Allen (abdominal).
A number of veterans sat out Thursday morning’s training camp workout, including quarterback Brett Favre, cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, running backs Ahman Green and William Henderson, offensive linemen Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, longsnapper Rob Davis, defensive ends Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, receivers Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson, and tight end Bubba Franks.
Cornerback Ahmad Carroll missed the morning practice with a hamstring injury that he sustained Wednesday in practice.
Fullback A.J. Cooper, who had missed a few practices this week with a shoulder injury, returned to practices today.
Manuel took part in the evening practice, but left early to ice down his sore right calf. He is expected to play on Saturday night, McCarthy said.
-- Ingle Martin completed a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ruvell Martin. Ingle Martin showed good arm strength as he rolled to his right and heaved the pass more than 50 yards in the air for the touchdown.
-- With Favre sitting out, Brian Wrobel got rare reps in the two-minute drill during the morning practice. “I think he’s done a real nice job. He’s gotten the least number of reps.”
-- McCarthy spoke with Woodson for about 10 minutes one-on-one after practice Thursday about his various roles on the team, including returning punts.
-- Next Tuesday's practice, scheduled for 9 a.m. in shells, has been closed to the public and media, the team announced Thursday night. The 6:30 p.m. practice later that day will be held in the Don Hutson Center and will be closed to the public, but not the media.