Trigger man Aaron Rodgers has been receptive to the no-huddle offense employed by head coach Mike McCarthy in the first two preseason games.
"It's something that we can use," Rodgers said after the Packers' 28-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night. "It's been in the plan for a while."
Given the freedom to make the play calls, Rodgers has been impeccable in running two series of the no-huddle. He has completed all 10 of his passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
A week after completing a seven-play, 73-yard drive in four minutes with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings in the exhibition loss at Cleveland, Rodgers capped a seven-play, 78-yard excursion in 3 1/2 minutes with a 20-yard touchdown throw to Jennings late in the first half Friday.
Both scoring plays between Rodgers and Jennings were similar back-shoulder throws made at the front pylon of the end zone.
"That's definitely good offense beating good defense," McCarthy said after Friday's game. "You see that when the quarterback and the receiver are definitely on the same page. They've done it two weeks in a row. You're looking at two big-time throws and catches in back-to-back weeks."
McCarthy has resorted to the no-huddle for the final series in which Rodgers and most of the first-string offense have played in each of the two games after sluggish starts in both. Jennings' touchdown grab Friday put the Packers ahead 7-6 after three possessions by the offense.
"I just like the fact that it's a tempo series, and we can call plays quickly or we can try to figure out what they're trying to do on defense," said Rodgers, who went 9-of-12 for 97 yards and the touchdown Friday. "It keeps the defense kind of on their toes a little bit."
Rodgers acknowledged the no-huddle could become a change-of-pace fixture for the offense during the season, especially if things sputter out of a conventional set on occasion.
"It's really Mike's call and what he wants do with that," Rodgers said.
McCarthy likes the production from the up-tempo diversion.
"I think it's a reflection of the maturity of our offense, particularly Aaron Rodgers," he said. "Aaron does an excellent job handling the calls at the line of scrimmage. We're 2-for-2. I'm very pleased with the no-huddle so far."
--The latest no-huddle splash featured plenty of Jermichael Finley, the talented tight end who made his preseason debut Friday after missing the opener because of a glute injury.
"It was good to have him back. He is a difference maker for us," Rodgers said. "He is a tough matchup problem ... (and is) going to have a big role for us this season."
Finley, who hadn't played since sustaining a season-ending knee injury Oct. 10 last year, was targeted a co-team-high five times Friday and had four receptions for 33 yards.
Three of Finley's catches came in succession in the no-huddle drive. Rodgers checked down to him for short completions of six and seven yards, then connected with Finley for a 17-yard play to get the Packers inside the Cardinals' 30-yard line. The touchdown pass to Jennings came two plays later.
"That is big right there," Finley said of his involvement in the offense. "If your quarterback has confidence to throw you a ball and you get five yards and then throw it again down the field for 15, that's confidence in the player that you are.
"Oh, yeah, I'm back," Finley happily added. "It was nice to get back in sync with my team and get the ball thrown to me from 12 (Rodgers). It's awesome. I'm ready to go."
Besides Finley, two other Packers starters played for the first time in the preseason Friday: cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. Woodson, a 14th-year veteran, was rested in the game against Cleveland, while Shields was sidelined with a hip injury.
--T.J. Lang has been named the Packers' starting left guard. He replaces Daryn Colledge, a five-year starter who signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.
Lang brings an alley-fighter's mentality to the line whereas Colledge was dependent on his athleticism, technique and taking the best angles to win one-on-one battles.
Lang beat out first-round pick Derek Sherrod. Sherrod had a poor performance at guard in each of the first two games of the preseason and has never played an interior line position. He's likely to remain at offensive tackle for the Packers.
Lang, 6 feet 4 inches, 316 pounds, has raw power and weight-room strength. He played offensive tackle at Eastern Michigan and was a fourth-round pick in 2009.
--Rookie halfback Alex Green made up for a week of lost time in camp with an eye-opening preseason debut.
The third-round draft pick out of Hawaii replaced starter Ryan Grant as the featured back with Flynn at quarterback late in the second quarter. The powerful and elusive Green gained 25 yards on a screen pass from Flynn to the Arizona 2 and then barreled into the end zone behind fullback Quinn Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown two plays later.
"(He) jumped out at me on the screen," McCarthy said of Green, who was sidelined with a thigh injury. "It looks like he's moving well from his quad strain. I thought he made a good first impression."
If he can stay healthy, Green is the front-runner to return kickoffs at the start of the season and also could be the team's third-down back. Coach Mike McCarthy said the 6-foot, 225-pound Green, who played in a spread offense at Hawaii, has "seamlessly" handled the third-down responsibilities, although Green did err on a blitz pickup in the second half Friday.
The only other knock on Green on an otherwise auspicious first night of action was he needed Lang to tell him to do a Lambeau Leap into the stands after the rookie stood in the end zone for five seconds following his touchdown plunge.
"I thought about it before the game, but then once I got in, I kind of froze up a little bit and got a little nervous and I didn't know what to do," Green said.
--Chastin West spent the entire 2010 season on Green Bay's practice squad. The first-year receiver is making a serious bid to finally graduate to the 53-man roster this summer.
A 97-yard touchdown catch on a throw from Matt Flynn for the game-winner Friday should bolster his prospects of sticking with the team.
"I'm proud of Chastin," Aaron Rodgers said. "I think everybody (on the team) saw towards the end of last year what kind of player he was becoming. He makes a strong case to be on this team. He's been making it since last year. I'm very happy for him.
"It's nice when you've got a guy like him making those big-time plays. He ran away from that guy."
The big scoring play, which put the Packers ahead 21-20, came at the start of the fourth quarter with Green Bay backed up at its 3 following a punt and a holding penalty.
The 6-1, 216-pound West sprinted past rookie cornerback Desia Dunn, incidentally a former teammate at Fresno State, on a go route down the right side and caught Flynn's throw in stride at the Packers' 29. West outran Dunn by a few yards the rest of the way.
"I told (Dunn) after the game, 'Sorry I had to run away from you,'" West said. "I've never had a chance to run out in the open field like that before. So, I told him my speed kicks in after the 40-yard dash."
West led the Packers on Friday with five catches for 134 yards. He has a team-high six receptions in the preseason and seemingly has the edge on third-year incumbent Brett Swain, who has missed both games because of a hamstring injury, should Green Bay keep six receivers on the roster.
"I think Chastin's having a good camp," McCarthy said. "He was in the league last year, so I wouldn't have any reason to think he wouldn't be in this year. That'll definitely help him."
--The quarterback trio of Rodgers, Flynn and Graham Harrell compiled a stellar passer rating of 152.9 on Friday. They were a combined 21-of-27 passing for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
Flynn, who relieved Rodgers in the second quarter, posted a perfect rating of 158.3. He was 5-of-6 for 141 yards and the touchdown before giving way to Harrell in the final quarter.
Harrell, a developing player, bounced back from a rough preseason opener in which he was sacked three times and fumbled three times (one lost) by producing a passer rating of 141.2. He went 7-of-9 for 81 yards, didn't absorb a sack and completed the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Kerry Taylor with five minutes left.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"In Pop Warner, I had a 99-yarder, but that wasn't as exciting. That might have been in front of six people. They had a gated fence (at that field), so I might have gotten some lacerations if I would've done the Lambeau Leap there." - Wide receiver Chastin West, who had a 97-yard touchdown catch in the 28-20 preseason win over Arizona on Aug. 19.
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