Training Camp Observations 8-16, Full Pads
Will they keep them all?
I’m talking about the Green Bay Packers’ tight end group. There are locks like [intlink id="209" type="category"]Jermichael Finley[/intlink], who’s an all-around pass catching threat, and [intlink id="1236" type="category"]Tom Crabtree[/intlink], who’s the best blocking tight end in the group. The Packers drafted [intlink id="1624" type="category"]D.J. Williams[/intlink] in the fifth round and he’s been a camp sensation. Williams had a couple great catches on the day going across the middle. Things get real interesting when you add seventh-round pick [intlink id="1629" type="category"]Ryan Taylor[/intlink] to the mix. Taylor looks above average in all areas and is consistently on the No. 1 special teams units. Taylor has also shown soft hands, exemplified in a session of short kickoffs where he became the return man. Where does this leave injured players like [intlink id="1036" type="category"]Andrew Quarless[/intlink] and [intlink id="700" type="category"]Spencer Havner[/intlink]? Quarless has been a decent game-day player and a willing blocker, so I think he’ll make the team. Havner may have to be the odd man out in a very crowded group, which would already be five deep. It may sound crazy that the Packers could keep five tight ends, but they love the body type for special teams and could justify keeping one less fullback to hold onto another talented tight end.
No, the Packers have not introduced any wildcat plays with [intlink id="1616" type="category"]Randall Cobb[/intlink] yet, but he looks like he’ll make an impact in a variety of ways this season. My obligatory Cobb hype for the day comes from his impact and usage on special teams and offense. The Packers are looking to create confusion, hopefully for opposing teams, in the return game by running reverses and laterals with Cobb. In preparation for teams keying on the guy I’m already putting into the Packers Hall of Fame, Cobb caught the ball, made some moves, and pitched to [intlink id="1061" type="category"]Sam Shields[/intlink] or Anthony Levine for the return. When Cobb was actually returning kicks he looked great, with at least one return looking like it would have gone the distance. On offense, the Packers ran a reverse option with Cobb and he completed a pass to a tightly covered Chastin West. Cobb also had the catch of the day, one-handing a ball thrown high and behind him on a slant route. It appears the Packers have someone special in Cobb and they’re finding multiple options to get him involved.
In good company
Dennis Bishop, father of Packers’ linebacker [intlink id="492" type="category"]Desmond Bishop[/intlink], was sitting in front of me and flossing a pair of championship pinky rings. He earned one from his days in the USFL. The other was the [intlink id="1425" type="category"]Super Bowl XLV[/intlink] ring his son earned. Dennis was more than happy to oblige the not-so-subtle fans who wanted a picture of the ring, a picture with the ring on, or a picture with him. Yesterday I saw Dennis wearing a shirt that said “Papa Bishop” and had the number 55 on the back. He’s a proud father and it seems like the Bishop family are good people.
- [intlink id="1618" type="category"]Alex Green[/intlink] returned to practice today, which is important for the rookie. I’m becoming worried about [intlink id="1622" type="category"]Davon House[/intlink], who’s still out. House was making strides before his injury and this sets him back in the Packers’ defensive plans.
- [intlink id="1038" type="category"]James Starks[/intlink] sat out practice again with an injured ankle. I think [intlink id="64" type="category"]Ryan Grant[/intlink] will be productive this year, but the Packers need Starks’ inside running ability.
- I saw [intlink id="157" type="category"]Pat Lee[/intlink] and Anthony Levine get shaken up as they ran into each other trying to defend Cobb during seven-on-sevens. Levine looked to get the worst of it, but I haven’t heard if either injury was that serious.
- [intlink id="1613" type="category"]Derek Sherrod[/intlink] and [intlink id="583" type="category"]T.J. Lang[/intlink] are still sharing time with the No. 1 offense. Sherrod was the first guy to go in at left guard when [intlink id="225" type="category"]Chad Clifton[/intlink] was practicing, but both players seemed to get equal reps.
- The Packers sure seem to practice a lot of screen passes.
- Special teams spent some time practicing what to do in case an opposing team tries a fake punt, with the punter realigning and going behind center.
- [intlink id="25" type="category"]Aaron Rodgers[/intlink] began his day before practice by attempting to complete a couple passes to the guy in the video tower. The passes were close, but were not successful. Even less successful were his first two passes of the day. The first was intercepted by [intlink id="162" type="category"]Nick Collins[/intlink] and the second was closer to [intlink id="1058" type="category"]Frank Zombo[/intlink] than any receiver. Rodgers still showed his deft touch, dropping a beautiful pass in to [intlink id="138" type="category"]Greg Jennings[/intlink] over the reach of [intlink id="454" type="category"]Clay Matthews[/intlink], but in front of the safties. In his individual drills, he dropped a pass into a target net that was about 50 yards away.
My next visit to training camp won’t be until Monday. I’m in the business of working for Packers fans, so I appreciate any ideas and comments that you guys have. Are there any players you want me to keep an eye on? As you guys watch or look over the recap from the game this Friday, keep in mind any players that intrigue you and I’ll do my best to give you eyes on the situation.