Packers Training Camp Observations: 7-31

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M.D. Jennings

Well another year is upon us and I’ll be back at camp, likely making it to most of the practices. I’m glad to be working with Total Packers once again and I’m willing to take suggestions on any players to keep an eye out for. Please feel free to leave your comments and I will do my best to keep up with reading through your posts before making it to practice.

Stepping up on defense
The first thing I noticed this training camp is the improved play of the defense. Whether it is Davon House stepping ahead of Jarrett Bush on the depth chart or Jerel Worthy giving life to the defensive line, it feels like the offense is having much more difficulty moving the ball than last year.

It has been interesting to see all of the positions that Charles Woodson is playing, as he goes from his traditional spot matching up against a slot receiver to a position that is similar to a “rover” where he is like an in-the-box safety, playing it like a linebacker. It looks as if Dom Capers is going to do all that he can to move Woodson around as much as possible to create the best matchups for an impact player. I saw one play today where Woodson, playing near the line of scrimmage, was sent on a “cross dogs” blitz up the middle as if he was an inside linebacker and he would have been quick to sack Rodgers on the play.

Business as usual
Practice has not been as polished for the offense as years past, but I do not believe there is any reason to believe in a drop off for their level of play. Donald Driver had a strong day, making a number of short-to-intermediate catches in traffic. D.J. Williams is having another strong camp and he seems to make a brilliant catch each practice. The greatest challenge for Williams will be continuing to make an impact, as he cooled off significantly last year after a very strong start.

Two of last year’s rookies that may make a significant impact on offense this year are Randall Cobb and Alex Green. Cobb has been his typical self during training camp, making spectacular catches and showing a feel for handling punts that nobody on the team outside of Woodson has. It also feels like the Packers are concentrating on using Cobb in as many ways as possible from slants and screens to end-arounds and running him out of the backfield, similar to the way the Vikings use Percy Harvin. Alex Green will likely be a change-of-pace back, as James Starks is set to be the starter. I see no ill signs of the injury that ended Green’s season last year and he looks to be effective on screen plays and dump-off passes. The largest hurdle for Green will likely be his blitz pick-up since everybody knows the Packers want to pass as often as possible.

Emphasizing special teams
Mike McCarthy has already expressed his desire to improve tackling, but it looks like the team is also trying to put more attention on special teams. Practices already last a long two and a half hours, but the team usually meets 15 minutes before practice to walk through different special teams operations. This could have something to do with the larger roster size since teams are carrying 90 players instead of 80, but it seems like there has been an active investment in improving the special teams play. Once we get closer to the end of preseason and training camp, I will keep a tally of who is working with the No. 1 special teams units to give you guys a better feel for the on-the-bubble guys who may make the team.

Quick observations:

  • Players worth mentioning that did not practice: Greg Jennings, Andrew Quarless, Desmond Bishop, and Ryan Pickett
  • Sam Shields needs to do some work if he wants to be a factor this year. I have heard that his performance was better yesterday, but he definitely needs to pick his game up. In my opinion, I do not believe this guy should be returning kicks of any kind. Shields still does not look comfortable fielding a kick and he usually runs into his blockers before falling down.
  • Jermichael Finley, now back at practice, makes a terrific one-handed catch on a pass to his back shoulder in traffic down the seam. The guy may run his mouth but he always brings it to practice.
  • As I noted earlier, Davon House is moving up the depth chart and is now in line to be No. 2 after Tramon Williams. The only time Jarrett Bush made the No. 1 unit today is when the defense went to dime. House had a pair of interceptions yesterday and I am sure that caught the eyes of the coaches.
  • Donald Driver seems to have more fun during practice than any other player. If he isn’t mixing it up with the crowd he is joking with the equipment staff.
  • In a humorous moment, the crowd yells out to Greg Jennings while he is talking to Ted Thompson and tells Thompson to “give Greg his money” to which Greg puts his arm around Ted, looks back at the crowd and gives a thumbs-up sign. I agree, pay the man.
  • NFL Network was at practice today, and Mike Mayock and Stacy Dales spent a decent amount of time right in front of me. Mayock even signed autographs for a couple fans while talking to them about the team.
  • The crowd kept yelling to Donald Driver, asking him to dance for them. Is it just me, or does that have too much of an “Uncle Tom” feel about it?

I should be able to make most of this years’ practices, with the next stop being Thursday night for me. Be sure to follow along with me and look for another post on Thursday night!

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.

13 Comments on "Packers Training Camp Observations: 7-31"

  1. StephanieZ

    Someone who just won Dancing with the Stars can’t be asked to show some dance moves? Was that necessary?

    • DevilDon

      No, but it was funny.
      Lighten up Steph. Would it have been funny if they h ad asked him to eat some watermelon and fried chicken?

  2. Jeff

    I was there today. House is running with the ones Bush is the nickel. Nick Perry looks completely lost. Datko is doing a great job as back up Left Tackle. DJ Smith was awesome all over the place. The safeties made some nice pass deflections. MD Jennings is pretty good. Worthy looks to be the real deal. Hayward covers excellent but can’t tackle a lick. Alex Green is a beast and Starks looks in great shape. I wouldn’t worry too much about Ryan Grant. Go pack

  3. Brady

    In my opinion, the Donald Driver fans should be more concerned with him finding a spot on the team then to have him dance on command. Taking a large pay cut has certainly helped Driver’s chances, but it should not be a guarantee that a veteran receiver who only plays special teams for the hand’s team makes it over younger guys with more availability. I’m not hating on Driver at all because he is a model Packer and will always be, but the end comes extremely quick for wide receivers and runningbacks.

    • Harry Hood

      You’re saying they won’t find a place for DD? If they can’t find a place for DD, they won’t find a place for either of the youngins. DD hasn’t lost a step yet.

  4. Shawn iltarion

    Actually, Brady, the end comes pretty damn slow for WRs.

    Randy Moss is still playing. Derrick Mason and Hines Ward both played last season. Some still talk about fricking TO playing yet.

    This team needs more than one slot WR, and as far as I know, DD and Cobb are the only WRs that regularly play that role.

    Very true though, that the end comes quick for RBs.

    Great camp report. Looking forward to Thursday.

    • Brady

      it is true that Moss, Mason, and Ward all played last year. Randall Cobb, in an extremely limited role, had a comparable or better year than any of those guys…. and two of those guys have already retired. Jennings is also money in the slot.

      I would say that it all depends on Gurley and how far he comes along in the offense because the guy has a knack for blocking punts and has a size advantage over most wide receivers. The coaches like Borel enough and I wouldn’t be surprised to see converted basketball player Dale Moss as a candidate to surprise. The point being, there is enough talent at wide receiver that everybody needs to step up if they want to ensure a spot on the team.

  5. Irish Dan

    Could you keep an eye out for Moses? Wondering if this early hype is still going on and how he’s doing. Also, is Vic So’oto still with the team or what? He was a great rusher in preseason last year, but haven’t heard anything this year.

  6. Joe Blackwell

    Just wondering your thoughts on Lawrence Guy. With Mike Daniels and Ryan Picketts injuries and Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove suspensions. Will Guy be able to play along with Raji, Wilson and possibly Merling. If Pickett’s injury is serious how does that affect Daniel Muir status.

  7. Jeff

    As far as Moses goes he has some rush moves but looks challenged in coverage like all of our linebackers except DJ Smith. Moses has potential but has holes in his game that will be exploited based on the two practices I saw. Lawrence Guy is a big dude. On tuesday he was spending lots of time with Anthony Hargrove in between plays. You will see lots of Worthy, Raji, Pickett. Also CJ Wilson looks in excellent shape. On the offensive side expect Randall Cobb to get lots more touches maybe in the backfield. He might turn into a fantasy football sleeper. I have no clue how teams will defense Finley, Jennings, Nelson, Cobb and our backs. Scary!

  8. wooly bully

    Great stuff. THANKS!

    Is Kuhn back or is he out?

    If he’s out what’s the fullback position looking like.

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