Sunday, August 07, 2011

Quick takes on Packers' quick practice

For the third time in four years, the Packers' Family Night event at Lambeau was shortened due to stormy weather rolling through. In effect, the glorified practice before more than 43,000 fans amounted to three drives by the number one offense versus the number two defense. It lasted perhaps about 20 minutes. But at least after the storm cleared, fans were treated to the promised fireworks...not of the football variety...real fireworks.

So, what can we take from this all-too-brief team scrimmage?

Firstly, rookie T/G Derek Sherrod, at 6'5" and 321 lbs., looked huge playing left guard, where the Packers have been working him extensively the first week of camp. Looks as if he has good movement. Definitely has the size to play left tackle but that is still veteran Chad Clifton's job, although Marshall Newhouse filled in at that spot last evening.

Second-year running back James Starks looks a bit bigger -- supposedly he added about 15 pounds of muscle according to some reports -- and extremely quick. He had a couple runs last evening, one in particular, where he waited for the lane to open and with what seemed like two quick steps was through the defense. Very fast and explosive. Great to see veteran Ryan Grant back, as well. But if Starks continues to display this combination of explosive moves and speed it might be hard to keep the ball out of his hands. Combined with Grant and rookie Alex Green -- who the coaches are also high on -- defenses will be hard pressed to defend both the run and the Packers' passing game.

Speaking of the passing game, it was great to see James Jones back. Jordy Nelson made a nice catch on a fade route in the endzone for a TD. And rookie Randall Cobb -- another one the coaches are pleased with at this point -- made a nice move on an underthrown ball. He's going to add another element for defenders to worry about downfield.

QB Aaron Rodgers looked as if he was getting into rhythm with new receivers and never missed a beat with his long-time receivers.

Defensively, we didn't get a chance to see the number ones last night. So can't really say much on this side of the ball. Except that undrafted rookie free agent CB Brandian Ross made a nice read on Aaron Rodgers' first pass of the evening, jumped it, and wound up getting an interception return for a pick-6 TD. No Lambeau Leap, though...hey, he's a rookie. He said in post-scrimmage comments that Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and other veteran defensive backs had been helping him along. Appeared as if he was listening to whatever they were telling him. Given the logjam at cornerback, Ross might be a longshot to make the the team. But he's someone to keep your eye on. Seemed very thoughtful, respectful, and has instincts for the position. He'll have a job somewhere if not in Green Bay.

That's about all we could get out of last night's scrimmage. Unfortunately, especially for the rookies, they weren't able to get more repetitions. But Coach McCarthy and the Packers err on the side of keeping the players healthy and safe. The team is off today as, under the new collective bargaining agreement, they are only allowed to practice four days in a row. They'll be back to work Monday. Friday is an off day which will see the Super Bowl champs visiting the White House to be honored by the President (and Da Bearz fan). Saturday they'll be in Cleveland for the first preseason game of the new football year.

Football. You gotta love it. Glad it's back!

Go Pack Go!!!