Training Camp Observations 8-9, Full Pads
After the Green Bay Packers’ Family Night was cut short by thunderstorms and Monday night’s practice moved inside due to heavy rain, I’m back and on the job.
Absent from tonight’s practice were [intlink id="25" type="category"]Aaron Rodgers[/intlink], [intlink id="76" type="category"]Donald Driver[/intlink], [intlink id="225" type="category"]Chad Clifton[/intlink], [intlink id="162" type="category"]Nick Collins[/intlink], [intlink id="252" type="category"]Ryan Pickett[/intlink], [intlink id="1337" type="category"]Howard Green[/intlink], and [intlink id="143" type="category"]Charles Woodson[/intlink]. I’ve heard players with more than seven seasons accrued got the night off. While it was initially disappointing to see the Packers practice without some of their top guys, it gave us a chance to see which young guys would step up. [intlink id="1033" type="category"]Mike Neal[/intlink] may be in position to take the starting defensive end spot, but Jarius Wynn was the guy making plays on this night. Wynn was quick to get into the backfield and disrupt the rhythm of the offense. In Wynn’s most eye-catching moment of training camp so far, he shot through the hole on a running play to Brandon Saine and quickly wrapped him up, tossing him to the ground. Tori Gurley was also a player who made the most of his opportunity, catching the most passes on the night, including a 50-yard bomb from [intlink id="1102" type="category"]Graham Harrell[/intlink] after he got behind the defense.
The two players who benefitted most by the veterans’ day off were quarterbacks [intlink id="84" type="category"]Matt Flynn[/intlink] and Harrell. The absence of Rodgers thrust the backups into the spotlight and both players delivered what I consider their best performances of training camp so far. Each of them completed quick strikes down the seam with ease, while being able to handle the pressures of [intlink id="305" type="category"]Dom Capers[/intlink]‘ defense adequately. Both quarterbacks also threw a decent deep ball. While the Packers season would certainly be shot without Rodgers at the helm, on this night it appeared the team has a pair of capable backups who can make some impressive short throws.
And in this corner…
Practice is starting to get a little chippy, which is usually a sign of guys competing. Tonight’s practice had three scuffles, with one of them getting close to being an actual fight. First off, I saw [intlink id="209" type="category"]Jermichael Finley[/intlink] and [intlink id="1627" type="category"]Ricky Elmore[/intlink] take each other on long after the whistle in a one-on-one blocking drill. Next, I saw Robert Francois put [intlink id="1618" type="category"]Alex Green[/intlink] on skates and walk him through the end zone. The two had to be separated. I didn’t see what caused [intlink id="82" type="category"]Tramon Williams[/intlink] and Tori Gurley to start jawing after their individual drill, but Williams looked to finish it. After the play, Gurley jumped up and was in Williams’ face, there was a bit of shoving, and then Williams cracked Gurley in the jaw, knocking him down. Coaches immediately jumped in, putting an end to the scuffle before things got out of control. The coaches always say that they’re fine with fighting as long as nobody gets hurt because it’s a sign of effort. Gurley responded with his best night of practice so far, so maybe there’s some truth to that.
- [intlink id="204" type="category"]James Jones[/intlink] made a nice over-the-shoulder grab on a high pass from Harrell in the end zone. Maybe all the work Jones did in the offseason, specifically on over-the-shoulder catches, will pay off.
- [intlink id="1616" type="category"]Randall Cobb[/intlink] had a pass go off of his fingertips and dropped an easy catch the play after, which resulted in a [intlink id="1034" type="category"]Morgan Burnett[/intlink] interception. [intlink id="22" type="category"]Jordy Nelson[/intlink] ran over to Cobb and coached him up, providing what looked like route-running advice. You can see the respect the veterans receivers have for Cobb and his desire to learn from them.
- Keep an eye on Ray Dominguez, an undrafted rookie who plays at right tackle and guard. I’ve seen him hold his own fairly well so far and he has prototypical size at 6-4, 334 pounds.
- Finley may have tweaked his hamstring. He walked a little gingerly and looked to stretch out the back of his thigh. I didn’t notice him limp until after a late hit by Josh Gordy on a non-contact drill. Not a way to make the team, son.