"Saturday" Night Lights
The Packers returned to the practice field tonight and they returned by taking the next step in the training camp progression. In the early stages of camp, practice is an end in and of itself. The intensity, the competition between offense and defense, it's all there in spades. Once a game has been played however, practice becomes a means to an end. Now it's about getting ready for the next opponent and getting yourself ready to play your best when game time rolls around. The change in tone was evident tonight.
No 2 hour and 45 minute marathon, but a brisk 1 hour and 35 minute session. It was conducted in full pads, but the team drills were against a scout team lining up and running Cleveland schemes. When the Packer offense is on the field, it's supposed to do well, and usually does. Same goes for the defense. The scout teams are a far cry from the Washington Generals, but I'm sure you get my drift. That's the general lowdown on tonight's work, as for the specifics:
-The biggest story was who wasn't there. Desmond Bishop is facing potentially season-ending surgery on his hamstring. As a physical, tough guy who's also a play maker, Bishop will certainly be missed.
-Next man up, D.J. Smith. He doesn't have the size to be the hammer that Bishop is, but he too is a play maker. Started 3 games last season, was the Packers leading tackler during that stretch and the coaches named him defensive player of the week twice. Things could be worse.
-Newly signed offensive lineman Reggie Wells made his Packer debut. He was limited to work in "shells" per league rule, but when practicing pass sets against air, he was practicing as a left tackle. The depth issue there may be much ado about nothing, as long as Marshall Newhouse is healthy. He, however, was out again tonight as he recovers from a concussion and Derek Sherrod has yet to practice at all. That left Herb Taylor to start vs. the Chargers and the results weren't pretty. He ran #1 again tonight but 7th rounder Andrew Datko did get some reps with the starters.
-Davon House is supposed to be out for 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. He started and played well in San Diego. In his absence, 2nd rounder Craig Hayward gets his crack at right corner and that could make for a very competitive situation down the road. Both players have the tools to be good NFL corners.
-All the Cedric Benson talk didn't seem to affect Alex Green, or perhaps it did. With James Starks out with a turf toe, Green got most of the carries tonight and really looked the part. Hasn't had many "wow" plays this camp but hasn't had many opportunities either. (3 carries, no balls thrown his way vs. the Chargers.
-Progress. Saw B.J. Coleman "look off" the coverage during a red zone period. He was rewarded with a completion.
-Same drill, 5th rounder Terrell Manning showed excellent range getting back to bat away a pass intended for D.J Williams. The far majority of the time, the inside backer gets beaten for a TD in that type of coverage.