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Larry McCarren's Training Camp Report / 8-28-11

<P>Back to Work</P>

The first practice after a preseason game (which today's was) is always interesting because if anything of note is coming as a result of the game, it shows up.  Chad Clifton struggled against the Colts, and today he did a lot more practicing than he has previously this camp.  He didn't take or, more accurately, wasn't given near as many plays off.  This is a tough balancing act for the coaching staff - getting Clifton enough practice to be effective but at the same time not leaving his game on the practice field.   At least for today, it erred on the side of practice.

    With a couple of drops, Donald Driver was another veteran who didn't have the best of days at Indy, but he rebounded with a strong performance today, catching everything in sight.  On the flipside of that coin, it seemed like rookie corner Davon House was the defender victimized on a number of offensive completions.  He showed good ability in the early going but hasn't done much to catch the eye since returning from injury last week.

    The defense ran a lot of its "psycho" package today, the one with just 1 lineman, 4 linebackers and 6 defensive backs.  You may remember it from past seasons.  It's the defense that looks like mass confusion prior to the snap, but once the ball's in play, the confusion's over, at least on the defensive side of the ball.  Linebackers and defensive backs are blitzing from every way but it's clear they know which way they're supposed to go.  I couldn't help but think what great practice it is for the offense to have to deal with the Packers complex defensive scheme, not to mention its talent.  Of course there's two sides to that street.  The Packer defense is facing a handful in an offense that is talented, multiple, up tempo and led by Aaron Rodgers.  In some ways, the games may be a welcome relief.

    "Corner" oakie was another defense called by Dom Capers today.  In it, an extra corner comes in, (Sam Shields), and a safety leaves.  The real crux of the matter, however, is moving Charles Woodson to the vacant safety position.  That keeps him near the action, be it run or pass.  Think about it.  If you were one of the Packers' opponents, wouldn't you love to see Woodson outside running away from the action while covering a WR all game long?  

    The hit of the day belonged to Dimitri Nance.  In what had to be a refreshing change of pace, the running back took it to linebacker Elijah Joseph on the goal line.  It wasn't a "live" tackling drill, but trust me, Nance would have scored and scored in style.

    I've witnessed entire training camps where not a single punt gets blocked but Tori Gurley scored his third double-thud today.  He also came close against the Colts.  Gurley's secret is two-fold.  At 6'4" he's long, longer than most of the blocker/cover men on a punt team, and he uses pass rush moves on them.  He'll come in with a swim over the top and that's not something your typical rush man has in his arsenal.

    We'll finish with a couple of notes on personnel.  Randall Cobb returned to practice today (bruised knees) and he, and possibly Alex Green, may be the most game ready of the rookie class.  As for DE Mike Neal, (knee), he's still not practicing and that's not a good thing.  The Packers also released a couple of veterans today, Spencer Havner and Brett Swain.  Both missed some practice time with injuries when they really couldn't afford to, not with the talent pool at their respective positions.         

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