Back in pads for the first time since the Pre-Season opener against the Cardinals, Mike McCarthy watched his team diligently move from drill to drill until a team run period midway through practice. The first couple of plays didn't quite go right, incomplete passes, no play side holes. When a bad snap rolled through the quarterback's hands, the coach blew a gasket. Decorum doesn't permit me to quote McCarthy verbatim, but needless to say the tempo and the execution both picked up considerably to the final whistle.
I spent much of the time focusing on the offensive line. With Bryan Bulaga down for the count and T.J. Lang temporarily incapacitated with a bad back, here's how the starting O-Line looked. Evan Dietrich-Smith at center, Josh Sitton and left guard and Marshall Newhouse holding down the right tackle spot. He's expected to be pushed harder by Don Barclay but he's busy starting at right guard for Lang. And of course there's David Bakhtiari, the rookie at left tackle. Lang may not play against the Rams but he should be fine and I have an inkling Barclay may well wind up supplanting Newhouse, relegating Marshall to the key swing tackle backup position. That would leave room for maybe three, at most four more linemen to stick. Approaching the midway point of camp, my best bets for the backup jobs are Greg Van Roten and Lane Taylor. Van Roten was a practice squadder last year and Taylor is an undrafted rookie free agent from Oklahoma State who played well against the Cardinals despite getting almost no sleep two days before the game as his wife delivered a brand new baby girl. It's a battle royale for the last spot on the depth chart but don't hold your breath it will be Derek Sherrod. Make way for another go 'round on the PUP list is my guess for the 2011 number one pick.
Now to the wide receivers. Kevin Dorsey finally got back onto the field. The 7th round pick got in I believe one camp practice and yanked his hamstring. This after not practicing at all during the spring OTA's because of injuries. The Packers have seen next to nothing from Dorsey and Charles Johnson, the other draft pick receiver because of injuries. They're seriously, but not hopelessly behind the likes of Tyrone Walker, Myles White, Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross. Then there's Randall Cobb. He injured a biceps muscle the other day, didn't play against Arizona but was back on the practice field today. He had and spider-striped tape job across the muscle and took part in every drill but by the end of the practice, it was obvious he was in distress. Letting the arm dangle or rubbing it down after every catch. He was medically cleared to take part but McCarthy admitted this is an injury that might linger. So why did Randall put it through such a vigorous test, when it's still the pre-season? That's Cobb being Cobb as he told reporters after practice.
The kickers had another duel on a breezy day today. The competition is bringing out the best of 'em. The first set of kicks came from the 33, 43, 48 and 50 yard lines and alternating from the right and left hashmarks. Round two the kicks were from 34, 39, 45 and finally 54 yards. Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio didn't miss, both were 8 for 8 with Ryan Longwell watching from the sidelines.
Finally, Sports Illustrated and NBC reporter Peter King rolled into town today. I've know Peter for quite a while and he's always been an extremely hard working NFL beat guy. He's taking that to a new extreme with his launch three weeks ago of his MMQB web site and mobile app. The Monday Morning Quarterback column has become such a hit that King is taking it fulltime. He's hired a staff of writers, including contributions from the likes of Don Banks, he's got a video team and he's got plenty of backing from SI. King arrived after attending the Minnesota Vikings camp on Monday, and it's off to Chicago tonight for a visit with the Bears on Wednesday. Throw in a Cubs game for fun at Wrigley Field tonight if he makes it. Peter's goal is to hit all 32 NFL teams before training camps end. They're riding in style though.....
Happy trails Peter and best of luck with MMQB.