Overheard, one fan to another among the sponsors watching practice from along the sideline: “This sure was the wrong day to come to practice!”
Sure was, because if you were hoping to watch Donald Driver square off against Charles Woodson or check out Aaron Kampman’s transformation to linebacker, you were disappointed. Coach Mike McCarthy gave most of his five-plus-years veterans the morning off on Thursday.
The Packers didn’t practice on Wednesday, either, so the break will mean fresher legs for Driver, cornerbacks Woodson and Al Harris, defensive end Cullen Jenkins, nose tackle Ryan Pickett, left tackle Chad Clifton, and tight end Donald Lee.
“I think it is a combination of a couple of elements,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “No. 1, you look at how many games they have played, you look at how many years they have been in the league, you see what their bodies have been through, so from a medical standpoint it’s just being smart. The second part of it is you never have enough reps for your younger players. That’s really the design of it and I’ve been very pleased with the way it is worked in the past. Especially with us being as young as we were in the past, I think it really fits into our program here.”
Also absent were defensive end Johnny Jolly (ankle), center Scott Wells (one-a-day schedule after shoulder surgery), safeties Atari Bigby (one-a-day schedule after ankle surgery) and Jarrett Bush (abdominal), linebackers Nick Barnett (knee) and Brad Jones (knee), running back Brandon Jackson (shoulder) and receiver Patrick Williams (hamstring).
Safety Anthony Smith dropped out after aggravating a sore groin and first-round pick B.J. Raji remains a holdout. Daryn Colledge was back as the starting left guard after injuring a thigh on Monday night.
Punters slow to pick up the pace
A few nights ago, kicker Mason Crosby was cheered when he finally made a field goal after three consecutive misses. It was an ugly encore for the punters.
Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks went shank-for-shank during a drill in which the unit was backed up to its 1-yard line. When Brooks blasted a beauty after two awful mis-hits that almost sent the crowd running for cover, the fans cheered.
Fortunately, they got better as the drill went on. With one attempt apiece at the normal 15-yard center-to-punter distance, Brooks blasted a 57-yarder and Kapinos uncorked a 52-yarder. Both had great hang time.
Unofficially (because it was hard to judge the distance of the punters’ out-of-bounds shanks), Kapinos won the battle by about 4 yards per punt. Nonetheless, neither of them took a step toward winning the job.
Aaron Rodgers is 2-for-3 in 2-minute situations at camp.
With the offense trailing by six points with 1:22 on the clock, two timeouts and 65 yards away from the end zone, Rodgers directed an eight-play scoring drive. They key play was a 21-yard completion to Ruvell Martin to the 13-yard line, with Tony Moll picking up a blitz by Clay Matthews III. On the next play, Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for a touchdown against Tramon Williams.
Aaron Rouse made a great interception, running through Tory Humphrey to get the ball on a deep pass up the seam, but the defense was offsides.
The No. 2 offense moved the ball 64 of the necessary 65 yards before stalling. The big play was a long completion from Brian Brohm to tight end Evan Moore, who got deep against a busted coverage. An interference call set up first-and-goal at the 1, but Brohm was stopped on a quarterback draw by Cyril Obiozor on first down, Jake Allen landed just out of bounds after outjumping Brandon Underwood on a fade route on second down and Brohm threw it away on third down. On fourth down, Brohm tossed the ball to Kregg Lumpkin on what was supposed to be a run off right end, but he dropped it for a drive-killing fumble.
“I think so. I think I would have fell forward and got in,” Brohm said with a smile of his quarterback draw. “They’re giving the defense the benefit of the doubt. They’re not going to give the quarterback that.”
Later, the offenses went no-huddle but couldn’t score. Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley deep against Charlie Peprah for 32 yards — it looked like Finley pushed off — but the drive stalled when Ryan Grant was run over by a blitzing Brandon Chillar and flagged for holding and Rodgers was sacked when he got immediate pressure from Matthews and ran into Brady Poppinga.
The No. 2 offense failed to get a first down, with Brohm almost intercepted by Desmond Bishop on fourth down when he threw into triple coverage.
“I thought the 2-minute drill was good work,” McCarthy said. “You just cannot get enough work as far as the different types of situations, the mechanics and the substitutions and so forth. I was very pleased with the 2-minute work, very pleased with the no-huddle Just playing up tempo and you’ve just got to keep changing it up as much as you can because that’s really what gets our players ready to play in trying to cover all of the different situations that occur.”
— Tonight’s practice is at 6:30 p.m. There is one practice on Friday (2 p.m.) and the Family Night Scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
— Mason Crosby hit a pair of field goals from about 40 yards. On a designed “fire” drill, holder Matt Flynn rolled left and, with tight end Tory Humphrey double-covered, threw the ball to Crosby for the first down and more.
— Matthews was the starting right outside linebacker as he rotates with Jeremy Thompson. The starting defensive line was Justin Harrell and Michael Montgomery at ends and Anthony Toribio at nose.
— Thompson almost made a superb leaping interception of Brohm.
— Tony Moll replaced Clifton at left tackle, with the rest of the No. 1 line unchanged. The No. 2 line had Jamon Meredith at left tackle, T.J. Lang at left guard, Duke Preston at center, Evan Dietrich-Smith at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle. For most of camp, Dietrich-Smith had been at left guard with Lang at right guard.
— During individual drills, running backs were asked to run through the gauntlet and high-knee their way through ropes. Ryan Grant and DeShawn Wynn bit the dust.
— Right tackle Allen Barbre and Brady Poppinga got into a pushing match but it didn’t escalate.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.