Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Final Observations of a Railbird

Observations of a Railbird, Tuesday, August 27, 2013
 by Ted Verges

I find it hard to believe but today’s Packer practice is the last one open to the public.  Because of the heat, it was a very short practice with almost all of the work focused on the kicking game and the reserves. What I’d like to do today is take you through the practice in chronological order.

Practice always starts with a team-stretching period. However, today only the defense stretched. The offensive players were inside the Don Hudson center, out of view from the public.  Just wondering, were they installing some new stuff for the 49ers?

The 2-minute drill was next on the agenda. Coleman and Young took all the snaps at QB.  The rest if the offense was made up of all reserves except for the running backs. They all rotated through the drill so it was hard to tell who would be the starter.  The offense did move the ball, but it was hard to determine the amount of effort from the defense.

The next drill was the half line running plays drill.  They do this every day in practice. The right side of the line runs plays to their side and the left side does as well. They both go against a defense that is pretty much live except for tackling. While one side is running a play, the other side huddles up for its next play.  They get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.  Alex Green was the most consistent of the running backs, but Jonathan Franklin made one eye-opening cut. Starks was criticized for “being too high”.  Rodgers and the starting line and receivers were not involved in this drill.

Team kicking was the next thing up.  Alex Green got most of the work as the kickoff return man and looked good.  They rotated the punt returners so it was hard to tell who will get the work on this in the Chief’s game.  While the kicking session was going on, the quarterbacks were working on an interesting drill that develops footwork and throwing accuracy while being on the move. The quarterbacks take a snap, drop back and then have to move left or right upon command and have to step over bags while doing so.  They then have to throw the ball into a target on a net about 20 yards away.  Rodgers was 3 for 3 hitting the target while Young and Coleman were each zero for three.

Field goal kicking against a 90 % rush was the next activity. Crosby was, by far, the most accurate kicker. If he missed any, it was only once. He gets the ball up quicker and has the strongest leg. I think he hit one from about 60 yards that was aided by a little wind. They also kicked into the wind. There is no question about Crosby being the better kicker. The job is his.  While that was going on, Nelson and Cobb were working with a coach on their routes and catching the ball.  That happened right in front of me. Both receivers were running full speed and made full speed cuts.  No problems.  They both looked good and will be fine for the 49ers.  On the other end of the field, the quarterbacks were working on their deep sideline throw.  They dropped back and had to throw at fishing net 50 yards down the field on the sideline. Young had a “maybe” that was a wobbly duck; Coleman had none; and Rodgers had a clean one in the net.  Just for information sake . . . Rodgers always used to beat Favre at this drill!

Team offense was next on the agenda.  Coleman and Young split all the snaps at quarterback.  Both moved the team.  I noticed a couple of things today that I’ve seen at other practices.  Coleman seldom looks off his receiver and almost never goes to a second receiver.  Rodgers does these things naturally.  Young is a much more accurate thrower when throwing across the middle than he is when throwing to the sideline.  He needs work on his throwing motion, as he tends to push the ball rather than throwing it. He really could have used McCarthy’s quarterback camp!

Team defense was the next drill. Would you believe Rodgers was quarterbacking the scout team?  While running Kansas City plays, Rodgers put some hurt on our secondary.  He passed for numerous touchdowns . . . particularly deep passes.  I just don’t think our secondary will see passes Thursday night that will be as accurate as what they saw today.

Following some more field goal competition, practice ended with the players going along the grandstand giving “high five’s” to the fans.  It was a nice thing.  I noticed that Raji and Pickett, in particular, seemed to enjoy it.  They both were full of smiles and were joking with the people.

Just a few more observations that have nothing to do with practice sequence . . . Ted Thompson was on the practice field, as he always is. However, today he wasn’t conversing with people except for a couple of comments to Eliot Wolf.  He didn’t talk with McCarthy, which is unusual.  I think he had things on his mind!  In a previous “Railbird Observation” I had commented on Sherrod favoring his right ankle as he watched practice.  He didn’t do so today.

Today’s practice only lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was hot and a little bit sticky. Perhaps that’s the reason why.  So that ends the “Railbird” practice observations for this year. I hope you enjoyed coming along to practice with me. It’s been fun for me; I hope it was for you too.  GO PACK!

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