Training Camp Observations 8-16, Full Pads

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Randall Cobb

Rookie Randall Cobb is making an impact in several ways.

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.

Wild-Cobb
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.

Quick observations

  • [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.

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.

23 Comments on "Training Camp Observations 8-16, Full Pads"

  1. Jason

    let us know how morgan burnett is looking now that hes pretty much been given the other starting safety position

    • Brady

      I’ve been very pleased with the development of Burnett. He typically seems to be in the right place and when he is not he has the range to cover himself a bit. He dropped an easy INT today but at least he put himself into position to do so.

  2. Could you also keep an eye on some of the other defensive linemen? With Neal’s injury problems, it will be interesting to see if any of them make a little more noise and make a case for the Packers to keep them on the 53 man roster.

    Continue to watch Pat Lee and the other corners like Josh Gordy. Gordy had a good performance against the Browns, and Lee is slipping. The spot will come down to those two. The back up safety spot behind Collins will be interesting to see too. Levine and Jennings are both interesting cases.

    Could you also look to see what’s happening with Ricky Elmore. The Packers drafted him in the sixth/seventh round, and I thought he may be a little more competitive like Zombo was last year. Haven’t heard from him.

    Continue to watch the running backs behind Alex Green. They look like they may be good practice squad material, as I see the Pack keeping only 3 halfbacks and Kuhn.

    • Brady

      So far in camp, the defensive lineman battling for the jenkins/neal absences that has stood out has been Jarius Wynn. Wynn has shown a nack for making plays in the backfield while Wilson has been consistent but not flashy. Jay Ross was making a little noise while Guy has shown flashes but he is dealing with concussion-like symptoms. The Packers won’t replace Jenkins, but the linemen have been occupying blocks and creating blitz lanes very well.

      Pat Lee has made good strides in camp and is usually giving tight coverage. He made a one-handed INT the other day so it looks like he is coming along but is still behind Bush on the depth chart. Levine looked to be the next man up behind Collins/Burnett/Peprah but took a shot the other day, running into Lee. I’m sure the MD Jennings INT from the Browns game opened some eyes.

      Elmore just hasn’t shown up to this point in camp. He has been surpassed by So’oto on the depth chart and doesn’t look physical enough yet. Loved how he outproduced Brooks Reed in college, but I haven’t seen him translate that production on the practice field.

      Nance and Saine look like decent enough but not flashy options for the Packers. I’m not sure if either guy provides enough to make a case for keeping them on the team. I still believe the Packers like Quinn Johnson enough to keep 3 running backs and 2 fullbacks.

  3. Great job man, keep it up. I think the log jam of talent at tight end likely affects the other skill positions, especially fullback and maybe halfback. Who’s been standing out there?

    • Brady

      In running backs, Starks has definitely shown the most of all of the group with great vision and power. Grant has his burst back and it is clear that he does his best work on the edges. Green has shown glimpses of good things but the injury has slowed that down. Nance looks decent and Saine is an effective “meat and potatoes” guy to churn out tough yards.

      We know about Kuhn being on the roster for sure but the decision may come down to keeping Quinn Johnson. I may be bias a bit but contrary to what a lot of local people want to believe, I firmly believe Johnson has a spot on the team. He doesn’t have the best hands and he doesn’t always make the right decision in his blocking, but he brings a physicality that gives McCarthy particular “looks” that he likes to surprise other teams with. And the Packers always run the ball better in games when he plays. But he looks like he always does in camp, imposing and occasionally cumbersome.

      Last year the Packers kept 4 TE’s and 3 FB’s… this year maybe 5-2?

    • Brady

      I thought I’ve heard this and I’ve been trying to officially find someplace to confirm it, but are they changing the final roster size to 56 because of the lockout? That would certainly make some choices a lot easier.

    • Brady

      Jones has looked good so far in camp. Had an impressive over-the-shoulder catch last week which was the type of pass he dropped often last year. Rodgers and Jones seem to hook up on back shoulder passes whenever they want to.

    • Brady

      I’m real excited for D.J. Smith as he has the look of a London Fletcher/Sam Mills clone and usually seems to be around a big play during second team drills. The guy has to have second team ILB on lockdown, probably with Francois on the other side.

      Newhouse is still playing either tackle position but less often than before. When Clifton was being rested, Newhouse usually lined up at LT in the first team but since Lang has made a push they have been rotating Lang/Sherrod at the LT/LG positions.

  4. James

    I’d love to see an inside report on who we can expect to haul in more receptions: Jordy, Jones or dare I say Cobb (probably a little premature with that last one)?

    • Brady

      I’d love to agree with you that Cobb will get the most touches but I’m sure that a lot of his play time will be an occasional play designed for him. He is a matchup nightmare in the slot though. I would say that we should expect Jordy to haul in the most receptions. He can make a tough catch over the middle and he owns the sidelines on the team right now. Jordy can make big catches vertically down the sides or use his large frame to work his way into jump balls. But with those 3 choices, is there even a bad one? Haha

    • Brady

      Clay is always the first guy to run from drill to drill and is can be guaranteed that he is a stud once again. Green has been slowed with an injury but he is looking intriguing and should certainly own the no. 3 running back spot. Elmore has really struggled and I would be surprised to see him make the final roster. Best case, I think he gets developed on the practice squad unless he makes a serious push late.

    • Brady

      Definitely kept a close eye on the BYU product. A raw talent who was a tight end that moved to linebacker that moved again to defensive end. You can see that he is swimming in all the information that is being thrown at him but he has a unique combination of size/speed that should help his chances to make the squad. Already moved ahead of Elmore and Lattimore, So’oto could also benefit if Brad Jones doesn’t start to make plays. Worst case for So’oto, his raw talent is developed on the practice squad.

  5. Ryan

    Last year, the Packers kickoff and punt teams (when the opponent receives) were huge liabilities! I’m wondering how they look so far?

    I know a lot of people aren’t happy with the new kickoff rules, but I think it is good news for the Packers. We were constantly giving up great field position on kickoffs; a few more touchbacks certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    • Brady

      I don’t think the coverage team for punts will be that poor because Masthay has been kicking the ball extremely well… distance, hangtime, and location along the sidelines. The kickoff coverage will probably be average at best but you’re right, the movement of kickoffs to the 35 should help a bit. It is hard to get an exact determination where the special teams coverage is at because they never tackle in those drills and that is an important part of it.

  6. Randy R

    Hey Brady…Question..After watching Newhouse and watching his play in dvr slo-mo. Does anyone seriously think he has a career in the NFL?…my personal thought…Horrible

    • Brady

      Newhouse definitely had a rough night against the Browns at right tackle. Early in camp when Clifton was sitting out many of the drills, Newhouse filled in with the no. 1 unit at left tackle and actually did fairly well. I think the guy can be decent but he will definitely need to work on his footwork, especially when it comes to mirroring speed rushers.

  7. Brady

    Sorry it took me so long to respond to you guys… this whole “real life” thing is a nuisance from time-to-time. I respect all the attention the blog has been getting and I’ll keep a close eye on all of your comments/suggestions.

    Duh dah dah, duh duh dah dah… GO PACK GO!

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