Larry McCarren: Training Camp in Name Only
The Packers are still working on blocking and tackling, but there's been some subtle changes in their routine worth noting. The players who have some place locally to move to, have moved back to wherever they call home. The team has also adopted a "regular season" practice schedule, and that means game-planning for an opponent from the start of the practice week, which was today. Competitive periods, where it's Packers offense vs. Packers defense, are at a minimum. They're still in the preseason to be sure, but actual training camp...that would be a stretch.
Sunday's session, which was eventually moved indoors due to lightning in the area, proved eventful none-the-less. Cedric Benson made his Packer debut in pads, and while it's hard to for yours truly to get a read on a running back unless it's "live" tackling, Benson certainly looked the part of a 3-time 1,000 yard rusher. He had a burst, some shake and he caught the ball. So far, so good.
The best news, however, may be all the players the Packers got off the sick list. John Kuhn, Sam Shields, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley all returned to work in full pads. Of the group, Shields is the one who needs to catch up and make an impression over the next 2 games. He said it himself in the locker room after practice, he's got to tackle and regain the trust of the coaching staff in his ability to produce in that end of the game. I would suspect he'll get plenty of chances to do so in Cincinnati. Shields was running with the first "dime" defense this morning.
While we're in the neighborhood, the Packers have come full circle at right cornerback. Jarrett Bush was #1 when camp began, then it was Davon House, and after that Casey Hayward. Today, Bush was back lining up as the right corner with the starting defense. Bush may not be the most natural "cover" guy on the roster, but he does play every play like it was his last.
No question, if Graham Harrell is going to be the Packers backup QB, he's got to play better in games but in the meantime, completing a tough pass in practice is never a bad idea. Harrell did so today when he threaded the needle to Jennings over the middle despite tight coverage by D.J. Smith. It was one of those plays where you say, "Who threw that?"
Post practice note: Mike McCarthy said in a general sense, his starters would play a half against the Cincinnati Bengals.