Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Observations of a Railbird, July 30, 2014

Observations of a Railbird, July 30, 2014
-Ted Verges

Remember this...... "Are you ready for some football?" Well, I am so today I just had to attend Packer practice. There's a number of players I wanted to watch and a number of questions I'd like to answer. I'm interested in the tight end and center positions. The offense looks strong everywhere else so, if these two positions can be developed, things look good.
Brandon Bostick got most of the work at tight end with the first group today and seemed to respond. He caught a number of passes including a TD in the red zone. Lacy scored a touchdown on a sweep left behind the blocking of Bostick. Bostick also looked good in the receiving drills. He has quick feet and good hands to go along with his size.
The other tight end I wanted to watch was Richard Rodgers. I was very unimpressed with him during the OTA's. He lumbered rather than ran, didn't appear light on his feet and looked like he should be an offensive tackle if he put on another twenty pounds. . But, recently there's been lots of positive press on him. Well, today he began to change my mind. He's running better and making quick cuts. He is a very good hands catcher. I don't think he had a single drop all day, including drills and scrimmage. He did score a touchdown in the red zone drill. If he can block, he could be good.
Quarless is Quarless. You know what you're going to get. He's a body catcher and not as quick with his cuts as some of the other tight ends. He does have the benefit of experience. It's my opinion that the tight end that plays the most is the one who blocks the best. McCarthy wants to run Lacy and, to do so, we need a decent blocking tight end.
I had a good chance to watch the offensive linemen today as most of their drill work was quite close to me. They did a lot of run and pass game work against defensive fronts that were angling and blitzing. I was impressed with Bryan Bulaga's strength, balance, and overall technique. If appears that he's well recovered from his injury. T.J. Lang did some drill work only; nothing live. He has impressive foot quickness. All those linemen are quick, but Lang stands out. Barclay got lots of scrimmage work at right guard and looked good.
The highlight of the practice for me was the one on one live pass blocking drill. It was held close to where I was so I got a good look at the guys. Both centers, Tretter and Linsley, did a good job. Tretter got knocked off balance once but quickly recovered to save the block. Linsley had an even better day. He's a strong guy who handled the bull rush very well. I think he won all his reps. Gerhart also had a good day. He's short but uses leverage to his advantage. Other guys who had good efforts were Barclay and Sherrod. Sherrod has really good technique and, frankly, today he looked like a first round draft choice. Bakhtari only got one rep but he totally stoned a guy who tried to bull rush him. But, the guys who really stood out in the drill were defensive linemen Mike Daniels and BJ Raji. Daniels looked like an all-pro. He had three reps and won all three and they were really quick victories. Yes, they were against rookies but his effort was impressive. Raji was awesome. He was really quick off the ball with good moves. He won all his reps but again he was going against rookies. Datone Jones also impressed with his pass rush. Most of the young guys have the same problem... they lose their balance after the initial hit. They bend at the waist, not at the knee's.
Some random observations are as follows:
* Sam Barrington made two nice plays at inside linebacker. On the red zone drill he stepped up into the hole, took on the lead blocker and leveled the ball carrier for a loss. In the 7 on 7 drill he reached in with the correct hand to knock a pass away from a receiver in the flat.
* DuJuan Harris made another one of those plays that sort of take your breath away He caught a pass over the middle and eluded the tackler by coming to a complete stop to make the tackler fly past him. He then instantly accelerated up the field. My description doesn't do the play much justice.
* Abbrederis had a great day. He worked Jarrett Bush for a touchdown and had a number of other great receptions. He's small but he belongs.
* A rookie linebacker by the name of Hubbard stood out a couple of times. He's a big, tall linebacker from Alabama.
* It seemed as though Aaron Rodgers missed more passes than usual and he had some that were not right on the money. Perhaps it was because he was often throwing to young receivers. While watching the quarterback drills, I couldn't help notice a young quarterback by the name of Rettig, He's got plenty of arm and can move.He's much better than those back-ups we had last year! He appears to be a good candidate for the taxi squad.
One last observation.... I think I observed a little more aggression than I usually see at practice. It seemed that, quite often, things were just on the edge. The defensive guys seem to play with a chip on their shoulders. For example, the red zone drills had a lot of hooting and hollering. They were quite competitive.

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