Family Night Scrimmage Recap
(Somehow Packers kicker Mason Crosby, their worst player last year and the worst kicker in the league last year, doesn’t get thumbs down from Wilde…. Packer fans with tickets last night may beg to differ)
By Jason Wilde, ESPN Wisconsin
~August 4th, 2013
Thumbs up: The plan from the start was for Aaron Rodgers to play only one series, and the Green Bay Packers star quarterback made it a good one. Rodgers drove the No. 1 offense 80 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown in his only series of the Family Night Scrimmage, an event where he has struggled in in the past. Rodgers got the drive going with a third-and-6 completion to Randall Cobb, who gained 14 yards, then moved the chains again with a 16-yard completion to James Jones. Another Cobb catch, this time for 26 yards, set up Rodgers for a third-and-goal 7-yard touchdown to tight end D.J. Williams. Rodgers donned a baseball cap thereafter.
“It was Family Night, and I haven’t had the best Family Nights. So it was nice to go down and get a touchdown and let the other guys get in there and get some work,” said Rodgers, who struggled in his first Family Night (2005), was distracted in his first scrimmage as the starting quarterback (when his predecessor, Brett Favre, made a surprise appearance and watched from a private box) and even in 2011, when he threw a pick-six interception to unknown cornerback Brandan Ross.
“I don’t think it was the cleanest series we’ve had but some guys made some plays. James had some nice runs after the catch, as did Randall, and D.J. did a nice job of staying in a spot there on the scramble touchdown. It’s a work in progress, it’s Family Night, we have four preseason games, those will be judged as preseason games. There’s a lot of guys fighting for spots. It’ll be exciting to see who steps their game up when we’re playing other teams.”
Thumbs down: If B.J. Coleman is going to have a legitimate shot at being the top backup behind Rodgers, he simply cannot keep playing this poorly. He threw a pair of interceptions on Thursday morning, and then, given the first-string offensive line and other starters to work with on Saturday night, he threw two more INTs, including one that James Nixon returned 66 yards for a touchdown. Although his intended receiver, Jeremy Ross, slipped on the play, the throw was bad enough that it didn’t matter. The second pick, on a jump ball to Ross, was snagged by cornerback Brandon Smith.
“I thought the first one was poor,” McCarthy said. “. I had a chance to talk to him. The second one was a jump ball and really didn’t give him a chance. He did some good things, but the two turnovers was obviously the black eye for B.J. Coleman.”
Coleman said Rodgers reminded him of his own poor Family Night performances, although it sounded as though Coleman didn’t think he did that poorly.
“All in all, I really felt good – I actually settled in there on the field,” Coleman said. “Both balls that were intercepted, good plays by the defensive back. You tip your hat to where credit is due. At the same time, I felt comfortable with the decision (on the pick-six) – maybe could have made it a split-second quicker. The second one, I felt very good with – felt comfortable with my feet, ball came out of my hand and the defensive back made a great play.”
Play of the day: Again, the caveat that it’s only a glorified practice rules. Nevertheless, cornerback James Nixon’s 66-yard interception return for a touchdown was the night’s most memorable moment. Coleman was throwing an out to Ross, and Nixon simply jumped it and was off to the races. “I’m still a bit shocked by it,” Nixon confessed afterward. “Once I caught it, I just knew I had to get to the end zone to open the coaches’ eyes and open my teammates’ eyes and let them know what I’m capable of doing.”
Camp confidential: The tale of what a wonderful illustration of Packers’ fans loyalty is well-worn. Yes, they come in droves to sell out the stadium to watch a practice and some fireworks. Yes, it is amazing to see. But when you’re around it on an annual basis, it can also be easily taken for granted. That’s why Rodgers and offensive coordinator Tom Clements made sure they didn’t on Saturday night, staring at the newly completed south end zone addition and marveling at the energy the crowd of 63,047 – a Family Night record, beating the 2006 record of 62,701 – delivered.
“We’ve got incredible fans; it’s exciting being in the stadium,” Rodgers said. “I was just spending a moment with Tom Clements there at the end of the scrimmage, looking around and just amazed at how much has been done in my nine years here to the stadium, how the fans are so dedicated coming out to family night, the noise they made was incredible. It just makes you feel really privileged to be part of this organization because they put our players in great position to be successful and we’ve got incredible fans who really care about us and us winning.”
Odds and ends:
· The right tackle competition is officially on, and it now looks like a two-man race between Marshall Newhouse and rookie David Bakhtiari. While Newhouse started the scrimmage and saw the most action with the starters, Bakhtiari also worked there and appeared to fare OK. Don Barclay, who started the final six games of last season (including playoffs) at right tackle, saw action at center and right guard and appears ticketed for a utility role. “I don’t want to rule out Don Barclay, but we’re also trying to do more with Don and it’s one of those things where you have to give Don a lot of credit, because (he’s doing) what’s best for the team and it’s what’s best for the offensive line unit that he’s versatile,” McCarthy said. Newhouse also worked a lot at left tackle with the backups.
· Defensive end Mike Daniels had an eventful night and day. His fiancée gave birth to the couple’s second son on Saturday morning after going into labor around midnight. Daniels was at the dorms at St. Norbert College when he got the call that son Kaydence was arriving to join Michael III. “I’m all right,” said Daniels, who didn’t sleep at all overnight and was headed back to the hospital after the scrimmage. “It’s football. I’ve been playing this game my whole life. I can do it in my sleep – which I kind of did today.”
· It had been 3 1/2 years since Johnny Jolly had run out of the tunnel at Lambeau Field, and he got a bit emotional about it when he did so with the rest of the defensive linemen during pre-scrimmage introductions. After a three-year suspension, Jolly continues to fight for a roster spot, and the Family Night Scrimmage was an important milestone for him. “It was great to be back in front of 70,000 fans. It’s a blessing to be back out there,” Jolly said. “I had fun. I’m going to continue to work. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling to come out here again.”
Injury report: Tight end Ryan Taylor left the scrimmage with a knee injury after appearing to get rolled up on during a punt.
McCarthy said he was being evaluated. Inside linebacker Brad Jones, who left practice with a finger injury on Friday night, was back on Saturday and appeared no worse for wear. Meanwhile, the Packers played without 16 players: Wide receiver Sederrick Cunningham (wrist); wide receiver Charles Johnson (knee); wide receiver Kevin Dorsey (hamstring); running back DuJuan Harris (knee), safety Sean Richardson (neck), cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring), cornerback Tramon Williams (knee), safety David Fulton (knee), outside linebacker Dezman Moses (toe), inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore (illness), offensive lineman JC Tretter (ankle), tackle Derek Sherrod (leg), tight end Andrew Quarless (quadriceps), wide receiver Jordy Nelson (knee), defensive end/outside linebacker Mike Neal (abdominal) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (knee),.
Practice schedule: The Packers are off Sunday. They will practice Monday but the practice is closed to the public. The team’s next public practice is Tuesday morning at 8:20 a.m. in pads at Ray Nitschke Field, weather permitting.
Original story HERE