It was a brisk, cold wind that greeted this Railbird as I took my perch at Packer OTA on June 3rd, 2014. The wind made it very difficult to work with my notes throughout practice. Perhaps the wind also impacted the quality of the practice, as things were unusually messy with unusual amounts of off side penalties. During the 11 on 11 portion of the practice they played some very loud music to distract the players. I’m not sure what the music was, but I do know, it was not 60’s rock and roll! It will be interesting to see MM’s assessment of this practice.
I tried to focus my attention on the offensive line play but there were so many explosive offensive plays that it was difficult to do so. Sitton did not practice today so Barclay got much work with the first O line at left guard. He performed well as he made no obvious mistakes. I thought perhaps they would use Sherrod at left guard as he played there some in his rookie year. However, Sherrod got a lot of work with the first O line as the left tackle. Tretter took most of the snaps with the starting group and Linsley and Gerhart split the remaining snaps. Barclay did a nice job on some combo blocks with the center. Most of the action involved passing the ball and his pass blocking was just fine. It was Sherrod, however, who was most impressive. He is a very large man, and he just engulfs people when he blocks them. He played with serious aggression and a physical nature. He showed no sign of previous injuries. When he was in there, Bulaga totally dominated his man in both the run and pass game. One of the positive things I took from today’s practice was the play of Barclay and Sherrod. If they are reserve O linemen, we are in pretty good shape!
Quite a few wide receiver back-ups had good practices. Chris Harper caught a number of passes including a nice post pass from Rodgers for a TD. This guy looks good and he is well put together. Ryan Taylor made the best catch I’ve ever seen him make throughout his career. It was a deep corner route on a pass from Rodgers in which Taylor had to work to keep his feet in bounds, and he did. The play resulted in some hooting and hollering. Boykin had perhaps the best practice of all the wide receivers. I think he caught the most passes although they were often shorter passes of a possession nature. Richard Rodgers, the rookie tight end, even caught a couple of passes. Although he didn’t get in much action, it was good to see Davante Adams on the field. He caught a couple of passes and has an impressive package of size and speed. Abbredaris and Janis again practiced well and, frankly, don’t look like rookies. The wide receiver group just looks good. I think we’ll have to see if there is some separation once the pads go on.
Another observation that is obvious is our quarterback group is so much better than the group that was in camp last year. Although there is some question about Flynn’s arm strength, the guy makes no mental errors and is effective. Tolzien has some serious arm strength and is good on the deep passes. An undrafted rookie from Boston College, Chase Rettig, even looked good. Things didn’t drop off when he was in there.
Defensively, the Packers showed some 4 – 3 defense today. Lattimore was in the starting linebacker group. He looks to be a tad undersized but he can really move. Capers reached down deep into his playbook to come up with a 2 – 7 – 2 defense! If that was not unusual enough, the 2 down linemen lined up next to each other on the same side of center! There were no down linemen on the other side of the center! However, people did blitz into that vacant area. There was a lot of substituting going on in the defensive secondary. House had an impressive interception along the sideline. Hayward made a great sideline play right in front of us. His quickness stood out even among the rest of the group who are all quick. He appeared to be totally recovered from his injury.
In summary, I’m beginning to feel good about our offensive line. Bulaga, Bakhtiari, and Sherrod all look good and are injury free. The center position will resolve itself once the pads go on. Barclay looks to be a competent reserve at a number of spots. The wide receiver group is frankly impressive. The top three running backs all look like they could really hurt some seven-man fronts. And, we haven’t seen Franklin in action yet. The quarterback depth will suffice and Rodgers will, of course, dominate.
I know the young guys are learning, but I think the guy who learned the most today was Davon House. After practice was completed he came over to the stands to talk to a couple of women, one young lady and the other was somewhat older. As he left the two women, he kissed the younger lady and then headed off the field. The older lady hollered, “Hey! You! Come here”. He did so and kissed the older lady on the cheek. She then said loudly, “If he’s going to go around kissing everybody, he can certainly kiss his mother!” Lesson learned!