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Observation deck: O-line goes from weakness to strength

The Packers' offensive line has gone from being a weakness to a strength, writes John Clayton.

Originally Published: August 2, 2007
By John Clayton | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Five observations from Green Bay Packers training camp, gleaned from the team's practices:

1. Jackson hoping to be a thriller
Brandon Jackson is an interesting choice at running back. He had a relatively unknown career at Nebraska and finished the season as a backup. Now he has a chance to get a starting job with a Packers team that lost Ahman Green through free agency. He's not tall and he doesn't have blazing speed, but he's a tough runner and a hard worker. During his first Packers practice, he had trouble catching the ball, dropping two. Vernand Morency is expected to be the starter, but he banged his shoulder at the start of camp and missed a few practices. Morency, according to coach Mike McCarthy, fits the Packers' zone blocking scheme because he's good at making one cut and going. What the team is missing, though, is the explosiveness at the position. That's where Green spoiled the Packers. On any given snap, he could break off a long touchdown run. Plus, he was a leader and one of the hardest workers on the team. Jackson can get to the outside, and when he does, can give a linebacker a hip move that might free him. What he appears to lack is the speed to break the long ones.

2. Reality bites
The Packers received a serious reality check when camp opened and Donald Driver couldn't pass his physical because of a shoulder injury. Though it is only a minor problem that was expected to keep him out only a few days, Driver showed the Packers just how potentially thin they would be at wide receiver. Driver, 32, is coming off a Pro Bowl season, but he suffered a minor separation to his shoulder late in 2006. The injury didn't heal up enough for him to pass the physical, so this could be a nagging injury all season. Without Driver, who is the team's No. 1 receiver and a personal favorite of Brett Favre, the offense could be in trouble. Greg Jennings looked like one of the best rookie receivers in football last season until he suffered a high ankle sprain that nagged him the final six weeks. Jennings still runs smooth routes, but he admitted he didn't recognize himself in the final weeks of the season when he looked at the game tapes. Robert Ferguson is still around, but he might not make the team. That would mean James Jones, the Packers' third-round choice, would have to step up as the third receiver. Jones uses his hands well and grabs balls out of the air instead of waiting for them to get to his body. Still, the Packers can't afford a serious injury to Driver.

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