Thursday, August 6, 2009
Evening camp update
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some early impressions after an eventful night practice brought Day 1 in Green Bay to a close:
- The Packers suffered a number of injuries during the day. The most notable was tight end Tory Humphrey's fractured forearm, which occurred during a two-minute drill in the morning. Coach Mike McCarthy said Humphrey will have surgery Friday. McCarthy said he is not yet certain wjether Humphrey will miss the season. Meanwhile, cornerback Pat Lee was having his back tested Thursday evening and his status is unknown. Linebacker Clay Matthews tweaked his hamstring and did not practice much during the evening session. Fellow linebacker Jeremy Thompson strained a groin and was limited during the evening as well.
- One thing I'll say about the Packers' new defense: It is loud. Constant screaming from assistant coaches Mike Trgovac (defensive line) and Kevin Greene (outside linebackers) guarantees that. It adds a new level of intensity to the group, one I'll be exploring more next week. Thursday night, we had a couple of rounds of pushing and shoving but no all-out brawls.
- The Packers have talked often about adding more blitzes to their defensive scheme, and during one team period I was amazed to see a new player blitz on every down. I saw Charles Woodson streak in from the corner, Nick Collins come from the middle and every linebacker crash the pocket at one point or another. Then I realized it was a "blitz period" designed specifically to practice the blitz. Duh. But the point is still valid: In one 10-minute period I saw every kind of blitz you can imagine. How much the Packers use them in games is another issue. But I can tell you they have pretty much all of them in their playbook.
- Many of you have asked about place-kicker Mason Crosby. By my count, he made all but one of his eight attempts Thursday night. The last one was a 53-yarder that landed in the net behind the goalposts. Looked pretty sharp to me.
- We'll talk more about tight end Jermichael Finley in the next few days. But I'll share two snapshots from Thursday evening. First: I watched him drive linebacker Desmond Bishop five yards backwards during a running drill. On that play, at least, Finley appeared to be a pretty solid blocker. Second: Lined up as an H-back, he held his own when assigned to blitzing linebacker A.J. Hawk. We all know Finley can catch, but he'll be a total package if he can block like that consistently.
- Here's a sight I'm surprised you don't see more often in this division: During the morning practice, centers and quarterbacks worked on the ball exchange with footballs soaked in ice water. The balls were submerged in larger Gatorade canisters until just before the snap. I only saw one fumble.
Elsewhere Thursday in the NFC North ...
Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Thursday that defensive end Cliff Avril has "linebacker skills." But at this point, Avril is being used as a pass-rushing defensive end on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the Lions again practiced without tight end Brandon Pettigrew (thigh) and safety Louis Delmas (knee).
Minnesota coach Brad Childress didn't have much to say Thursday on the state of his team's passing game as Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels resume their competition.
Childress: "We have a long way to go in the passing game, a long way. The plan is to get there but I'm not going to say [I'm] pretty happy. I wouldn't classify it that way."
Childress said the team needs to work on all areas, including: Throwing, route-running, protection, blitz pickup, and approaches against man defense as compared to zone. It wouldn't be beyond an NFL coach to exaggerate the state of affairs to mislead opponents, but from what I saw earlier this week, Childress appeared to be providing an honest assessment.
Chicago signed center Donovan Raiola, the brother of Lions center Dominic Raiola, but at this point Donovan should be considered nothing more than a camp body.