Here are some news from Packers training camp on Thursday:
First night practice: Under the lights and the watchful eyes of some 2,000 cheering fans, the Packers held their first night practice of camp Tuesday. It was a beautiful 80-degree evening, but the play on the field was significantly less attractive. Coach Mike McCarthy said the offense looked very good but he was less pleased with the defense and was downright peeved with the team's sluggishness and mental errors. “[It] wasn't our best practice,” McCarthy said. “The energy to start practice was poor … the number of pre-snap penalties is totally unacceptable.” The team plays its annual Family Night intra-squad scrimmage on Friday night.
Hold your horses: Let's start with the topic that had coach Mike McCarthy so vexed after practice: pre-snap penalties. Numerous times during team drills, defenders jumped early, a problem the coach was considerably vocal about last season, too. At one point during an 11-on-11 session, defensive end Mike Neal was flagged for offsides by one of the replacement practice officials. He was incensed, raising his arms and screaming his disagreement. His fellow defenders on the sideline concurred, loudly booing the poor referee. Rookie defensive end Jerel Worthy was whistled a couple of times, as well. The Packers like the vigor of their new defensive linemen, especially Worthy, Anthony Hargrove and Daniel Muir, but that enthusiasm spilled into overzealousness on Thursday.
Jennings is top dog: The Packers have five or six highly regarded wide receivers and some highly skilled tight ends. But Greg Jennings, who's a free agent after the season, reminded everyone on Thursday why he's still the No. 1 option in Green Bay. Jennings had a pair of touchdown catches and both were beauties. On the first, Jennings ran a fade route and went up high to snare a lob in the corner of the end zone with his defender draped all over him. It drew a huge reaction from the crowd. Shortly after, Jennings was thrown a back-shoulder bullet from Aaron Rodgers that he grabbed at the last instant.
Bushwhacked: Cornerback Jarrett Bush was back with the first team after a couple of days watching Davon House man the position. Bush is physical, but the knock on him has always been that he is not a great cover corner. That flaw was extremely apparent when wide receiver Jordy Nelson beat him on a double move and then burned him deep down the sideline for a long completion. Bush is a liability in coverage and it begs the question: How much fire can the Packers play with in the defensive backfield?
Players go at each other in drills: One of the most-watched drills at practice pits a pass rusher against a blocker. Some reporters put a lot of stock into it, even keeping individual win-loss records, but there's no denying it can provide a glimpse of a player's ability on a smaller level. With that in mind, some observations: presumptive starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse was robust, impressively stonewalling outside linebacker Clay Matthews; defensive end B.J. Raji won all three of his matchups and looked explosive; right tackle Bryan Bulaga stopped rookie linebacker Nick Perry in his tracks and was dominant; and undrafted rookie Dezman Moses continued to flash his natural pass-rushing talent.
Camp's first fight: The first skirmish of training camp went down Thursday night. Fights are not uncommon in August when temperatures and tempers run high, but this one hardly even counted as one. House, a second-year cornerback, was the instigator, somehow setting off right guard Josh Sitton, who has three inches and 120 pounds on him. Worthy got involved quickly and soon half the team was intervening and the fracas was dissolved before it ever really started.
Injury update: McCarthy announced five new injuries -- guard Ray Dominguez (ankle), safety Sean Richardson (thumb), tight end D.J. Williams (back), linebacker Brad Jones (knee) and fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring). Ten players were still sidelined -- wide receiver Tori Gurley (groin), linebacker Frank Zombo (hamstring), defensive lineman Johnny Jones (knee), guard Jaymes Brooks (hamstring), tackle Derek Sherrod (leg), tackle Mike McCabe (hip), tight end Andrew Quarless (knee), tight end Eric Lair (knee), running back Marc Tyler (shoulder), defensive end Mike Daniels (knee, groin). Wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen and defensive end Ryan Pickett returned to practice. McCarthy said it was unlikely linebacker Desmond Bishop or fullback John Kuhn would play Friday in the Family Night scrimmage.
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