Training Camp Observations 8-1, Full Pads

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Tom Crabtree and Jermichael Finley

Crabtree and Finley both looked solid Monday night.

The Green Bay Packers put on full pads and went full contact for the first time Monday evening. It’s time to see where the players are really at.

Changing of the guard
When the Packers let [intlink id=”94″ type=”category”]Daryn Colledge[/intlink] walk in free agency it left the offense in need of a starter at left guard. The man currently set to take his position is first-round pick [intlink id=”1613″ type=”category”]Derek Sherrod[/intlink]. Now that the pads are finally on I got a chance to see how Sherrod looks and it was a mixed bag, to say the least. There were times where he held up very well and was stout at the point of attack and there were others where he over-extended and was easily pushed to the side. Sherrod plays a little too upright at times, but he has great footwork which is a real asset as an offensive lineman. I’m still not sure how Sherrod will do in the running game, but he mirrors defenders well and shows a good counter-punch. He committed a false start at one point, which promptly sent him to the sideline. Sherrod spent some time with the second team at left tackle while [intlink id=”583″ type=”category”]T.J. Lang[/intlink] lined up at left guard. During one-on-ones Sherrod was able to stone [intlink id=”454″ type=”category”]Clay Matthews[/intlink] once and drive him to the ground, but during full team drills he was beat quite often by the man they call….

“The Freezer”
[intlink id=”473″ type=”category”]B.J. Raji[/intlink] played at a Pro Bowl level last year and looked like a force in the middle Monday night. He’s consistently beating guys in one-on-one matchups and even showed some wheels, chasing Rodgers from sideline to sideline. Does anybody want to go back to the 2009 draft and take Michael Crabtree instead of Raji now? The scariest part is Raji looks like he’ll continue to get better. He’s developed a nice swim move to complement his outstanding power rush.

Quarterbacks still looking for rhythm
There have been a fair share of beautiful throws to start camp, but the timing for all of the quarterbacks isn’t quite what it needs to be. Yesterday had its fair share of throws behind receivers and today was no different. [intlink id=”162″ type=”category”]Nick Collins[/intlink] and [intlink id=”80″ type=”category”]A.J. Hawk[/intlink] dropped some fairly easy interceptions and [intlink id=”25″ type=”category”]Aaron Rodgers[/intlink] completed a beautifully thrown slant to [intlink id=”143″ type=”category”]Charles Woodson[/intlink]. We can typically expect the defense to be ahead of the offense at the start of training camp, so I don’t believe this is anything to worry about, but it’s worth noting. All the quarterbacks had a difficult time finding open receivers quickly due to excellent coverage. There would of been a lot of sacks if it weren’t for the red jerseys.

Odds and ends
The blazing hot start for [intlink id=”1624″ type=”category”]D.J. Williams[/intlink] cooled down a bit. He had difficulty lining up correctly and also drew a false start. [intlink id=”204″ type=”category”]James Jones[/intlink] could be seen walking the sidelines and received a loud cheer from the crowd. [intlink id=”1236″ type=”category”]Tom Crabtree[/intlink] had one drop, but caught a ton of passes and could be seen chatting with Aaron Rodgers between plays. [intlink id=”1616″ type=”category”]Randall Cobb[/intlink] was excellent again, making catches all over the field and looks to be locked in as the No. 1 punt returner.  The kickoff coverage unit looks like they’ll begin in a three-point stance, like a sprinter coming out of the blocks. [intlink id=”1038″ type=”category”]James Starks[/intlink] had some nifty runs finding his way through traffic. [intlink id=”1034″ type=”category”]Morgan Burnett[/intlink] accidentally hit [intlink id=”76″ type=”category”]Donald Driver[/intlink] hard on a drill to teach defensive backs to wrap up and Driver went to the ground, but was okay. [intlink id=”209″ type=”category”]Jermichael Finley[/intlink] participated in most drills and the seven-on-seven sessions and I believe he’ll be able to fully practice on Wednesday. He still looks as dominant as ever. Y8TT8!

I appreciate any comments you guys leave and I will try to answer any questions or concerns you have so keep them coming!

About The Author

Brady has lived in Green Bay for the majority of his life, mostly because the Packers also reside there. He decided to forgo city life and nice weather in favor of the smell of brats and the ramblings of a Packers armchair GM. To Brady, there is the big 3 -- Packers, beer, and more Packers.

29 Comments on "Training Camp Observations 8-1, Full Pads"

  1. TyKo Steamboat

    Optimistic stuff on Raji…i was so happy when we drafted him!!! Resisting the temptation to get M. Crabtree…
    Anxious to see what Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett can do!

    • Brady

      Howard Green looked to be in decent enough shape, though still very big, and he has been able to move well enough to get into throwing lanes and bat a couple balls. Green isn’t going to do much to wow you but he has the type of unselfish play you need to make this defense work. I mean, in watching the Super Bowl, it took until about the third time I saw the replay of the Nick Collins INT to really see the impact of Green hitting big ben’s arm. I’d say he looks on par with how he was last year which isn’t a bad thing.

  2. Nickthe quick

    How did driver look over all? and who is the starting outside backer on the other side of clay???

    GO PACK GOOOOO

    • Brady

      Driver still looks like he is in his 20’s and if he stays healthy you can expect the same ol’ excellent/consistent play. The only thing that may keep his numbers down are the amount of quality players that the Packers can put on the field at any given time… Cobb has been eye-popping to say the least.

      Looks like the rotation for OLB opposite of Clay is Zombo, Jones, Walden, Lattimore, So’oto. Funny that Lattimore tied Walden’s school record for sacks in a season (11.5) at Middle Tennessee State last year.

  3. Matt

    Do you think the Packers should leave Bulaga at RT? From all accounts, I heard he is looking rather sharp over there thus far and had a fair amount of success against Clay Matthews last night, no easy feat.

    • Brady

      Bulaga really looks like he is progressing from year 1 to 2. There was also a play last night where he leveled Erik Walden, putting him right into the turf. I would see the Packers keeping him at right tackle because he seems to fit the disposition of a right tackle being gritty and a mauler. I would see Derek Sherrod being the left tackle of the future as he is more of a technician with the ability to mirror speed rushers, though judgement on him will be made as we play actual games. I think the days are gone when your best tackle has to be on the left and in some ways it may even be more important for Rodgers to be able to escape to his right like he loves to do. The combination of Sitton and Bulaga on the right side could also create a solid strong side running game.

  4. Nate

    Brady,
    On a sidenote…do any of you have a list of Packers on Twitter? I’m following a bunch but am wondering who I might be missing. Do you have a good resource for that?

    Thanks,
    Nate

  5. Brady

    @rcobb18, @A_Green20, @CharliePeprah, @rajifreezer90, @dj45williams, @TJLang70, @jsitton71, @NMcDonald67, @FZombo58, @TCrabtree83, @GregJennings, @nickthepick36, @OfficialAJHawk, @HighRizer38, @Quinn_Johnson45, @stickyshields9, @MNewhouse74, @Desbishop55, @cjwilson95, @mneal96, @BBulaga, @RyanGrant25, @ClayMatthews52, @AaronRodgers12, @JermichaelF88

    That’s all I know of so far. Crabtree is probably the best of the bunch in his tweets (He let all of his followers know where they could meet him to check out his Super Bowl ring the day after he got his.)

  6. PutMeInCoach

    This may be a dumb question but if I were interested in attending a training camp practice how do I go about doing so? Do you need tickets? If so, should you purchase them in advance? How much do they cost? How can you tell if it will be packed or sold out? Thanks. Go Pack.

    • Brady

      Very simple… just walk up and grab a seat. It’s free!! The crowds usually get there an hour beforehand so I’d try to get there an hour and a half before when the gates open. It’s also worth checking out the players riding the bikes from the stadium to Nitschke either before or after practice. Expect most practices to be packed as almost all of them (14 of 19) are at 7pm. Interestingly enough, a lot of the stands clear out during the last hour of practice (probably due to soreness from the bleacher seats) and that is when a lot of the 7v7 and 11v11 drills take place which are easily the most interesting.

  7. Greg

    Anyone of the DE group making noise? I feel like letting Cullen Jenkins walk is going to force more of a trial by fire for this group. This is the defensive position I am most worried about, due to the lack of experience. I think Raji/ Green make an excellent combo in the middle, although I don’t know about Green being listed at 340 on the team page.

    p.s. This update doesn’t help my obsession with Randall Cobb. Can’t wait until the season opener…

    • Brady

      Pickett and Green look solid and Raji is special. C.J. Wilson has made some nice plays and Mike Neal certainly looks the part but he is being eased back into the fold to make sure he doesn’t re-injure his shoulder. It is sort of hard to make a solid determination of the D line during camp as there isn’t any live tackling so the real eye test may come on the 13th against the Browns. What I can say is that guys are moving down the line well and getting a decent push. I think it all comes down to Raji collapsing the pocket and letting the other D linemen clean up the mess. Letting Jenkins walk was unfortunate but you could argue that we wouldn’t of been able to sign Jones and Kuhn without that decision. Also, Jenkins has been wearing down and it’s better to get rid of a guy a year too early than too late.

      Just wait until you see Cobb fielding punts for the Green/Gold… it is a WORLD of difference with his natural catching ability and explosive acceleration. I’ve got to see it in an actual game for us but early indications are very strong.

  8. Ryan

    Great stuff Brady. How would you say the team looks overall compared to years past?

    A lot of talk was made about A-Rodg not organizing any type of team workouts during the lockout…I’m not really concerned about his timing being off at this point but I am curious to see if you feel he (and the rest of the crew) look any different than last year.

    Thanks.

    • Brady

      Due the the uniqueness of this offseason I don’t know if I can directly compare this years’ practice to the previous years but if I did, I would say that we look better across the board. I was able to attend OTA’s and Minicamp before finally checking out training camp last year but everything seems to look better at this point in the year. Now we have to wonder whether the lockout has given the players fresh legs that would normally be fatigued by now or the fact that the only injured players (of note) are Andrew Quarless and Mike Neal.

      The running back position looks stronger than in previous years with 2 guys that could be our number 1. The wide receiving group could be the best I’ve ever seen with 5 guys that could be legitimate starters and unproven guys like Chastin West and Shaky Smithson being intriguing. The tight end group has been discussed by some of the national media (Clark Judge) as “disgustingly deep” with upcoming guys like Crabtree showing hands and added bulk… D.J. Williams being the camp co-star… and Ryan Taylor showing great extension to catch balls away from his body to go along with his great blocking. The Packers secondary also looks filthy good…. or at least the starting 5/6 with Woodson, Tramon, Shields, Collins, and Burnett/Peprah. I still need to see live non-practice action of our offensive and defensive lines to get a better idea but it does not look all that concerning. In years past the punting was an issue but Masthay clearly has that locked down and he got off a towering kick yesterday that was easily 55 yards with a perfect spiral.

      We have to check our Super Bowl bias/excitement at the door a little, but the early indications are that we look much stronger at this point than in years’ past.

  9. Ryan

    That’s really encouraging. I have to admit with all the hoopla with the Eagles and Patriots signing and then hearing things like Rodgers missing passes and the like… It was a bit disconcerting. Really, that’s probably really stupid of me. I guess I just want to see this team do well. =)

    Thanks again. Great post and great response. I really appreciate it. Look forward to reading more of your thoughts in the coming weeks.

  10. DevilDon

    Thanks Brady,
    Any signs of Gurley? I know he’s a long shot, but you know how you like to dream big.

    • Brady

      So far, there isn’t any indication that I’ve seen that leads me to believe Gurley has a spot on the team. He has great size but I’ve already seen way too many drops. When you factor in how great D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor already look and couple that with the eventual return of Andrew Quarless, I think it would take something earth-shattering for him to find his on the team. But camp is still early and I’ll keep an eye out.

      • Brady

        Sorry for lumping him in with TEs… We’ve been splitting them out wide a lot and he kind of has the body type of Finley. Making the team at WR would likely be a longer shot.

        • TyKo Steamboat

          I had read somewhere that Mike Neal may be ‘pound-for-pound’ the strongest guy on our team…any signs to validate that??? I think he may fill jenkins shoes nicely

          • Brady

            He is definitely the strongest guy on our team. He was a weight room champion while at Purdue and I’ve heard that he can squat something like 500 pounds. Before he got hurt last season you could see how strong he was… but they are taking things slow with him now to make sure his shoulder heals properly.

    • Brady

      Woodson looks like the player he was pre injury. He has been active for the majority of team drills and doesn’t seem to show any signs of being hampered by the collarbone. The interception he had against Rodgers was vintage woodson… Being in a trail position but on the inside hip and jumping the slant.

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