Cause for concern? It's not a "live" drill but the Packers have had 3 punts blocked in the past 2 practices. That fact wouldn't even be on our radar screen if each was a case of the punt return team working on a block, but that wasn't the case. The two blocks that came during today's workout caused a bit of a stir with the media, and there was a crowd around Tim Masthay's locker after practice, but the Bermuda Triangle was probably the result of poor blocking technique and decision making by players who are new to punt protection. When it happens in a game, then it's time to start losing sleep over it. As a matter of fact, when it happens in a game, you just bought yourself at least three weeks worth of headache. Once a team shows some vulnerability, the opposition is like sharks when there's blood in the water. It'll test that vulnerability until you've proven that it's been fixed, or until it's no longer on the tape it's looking at. (A minimum of 3 games, likely more.) Yours truly was once part of a punting team that allowed 3 blocks in 1 game. If memory serves me correctly, it was Bart Starr's first game as Head Coach. What a start. We didn't chase that ghost out of our special teams closet for months.
Back to the present and today's practice. For two days before the game, it was rather heavy duty - full pads, in the heat, no cutting back. More like a Thursday during the regular season and the team drills emphasized 2-minute offense/defense, the red zone and third down blitzes. All that in addition to normal down and distance.
Positive plays included Jermichael Finley going up and over a defender for a tough reception, rookie linebacker Cardia Jackson coming up with a pair of interceptions as well as knocking down another pass, and a beautiful touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to rookie WR Kerry Taylor. What made it especially noteworthy was the fact that it came during a defensive drill, when the defense is "supposed" to do well.
As for negative plays, Finley also had a drop and lost the battle for a 50-50 ball, not to mention a number of missed interceptions by a number of defensive players. They might have been tough catches, but this is a league of tough catches, and we already discussed the blocked punts.
Today's session was the last before the Colts' game, and a player worth watching Friday night is Davon House. The cornerback drafted in the 4th round out of New Mexico State flashed some real ability in the early going. A hamstring, however, put him on the sideline and he's yet to see game action. House should make his debut in Indianapolis. The contest will "not" be the typical dress rehearsal for the regular season that third preseason games normally are. Mike McCarthy plans to play his starters for about a half (usually, they'd go into the third quarter) as he still needs more time to evaluate the newcomers.
We'll finish with a bit of coaching wisdom from "the more things change, the more they stay the same" file. The defense was working goal line today and Mike Trgovac hollers to his linemen, "Come off the ball and knock 'em back." Didn't your high school coach say that a time or two?
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