It was another Chamber of Commerce day in Titletown. Ideal weather, tons of fans and the Green Bay Packers were back at it on Ray Nitschke Field. Head Coach Mike McCarthy continued the installation phase of camp. Install five was practiced and for the first, the entire compliment of outside linebackers were taking part. On Wednesday, Mike Neal was cleared to work after recovering from his core injury. Today, former number one pick Nick Perry finally shook off foot and knee injuries that bothered him nearly all of last season.
(Nick Perry working in one on one pass blocking-rush drills.)
Perry, Neal and free agent Julius Peppers are all being asked to play what's been termed the "elephant" position in the 3-4 system. All are former defensive ends who will line up in various places to either drop in coverage, or more often than not, get to the quarterback. All three are expected to see a lot of snaps this year as coordinator Dom Capers will deploy multiple formations and personnel combinations. Following his first practice of training camp, Perry held court in front of his locker. You can listen in...
Audio: Nick Perry.
The only two players who have yet to practice are Letroy Guion, the former Viking, and Jerel Worthy. Morgan Burnett sat out the full day after rolling his ankle at practice Wednesday. Jeff Janis, the 7th round wide receiver from Saginaw Valley State is still out with an undisclosed illness and free agent safety Tanner Miller was out with an ankle injury.
Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on a home run sideline bomb is expected, they connected again today over solid coverage from Casey Hayward, but Matt Flynn to Alex Gillett? Those two combined for the play of the day. Flynn let go a deep ball up the left sideline and 6th round corner Demetri Goodson had him blanketed. Gillett, the former quarterback turned receiver who spent the second half of the year on the practice squad, jumped up with Goodson. Both had their hands on the ball but Gillett wrestled it away as he tumbled to the ground for a circus catch. It was on the final play of a team period and the offense went wild. Mike McCarthy noticed it too and after practice talked about how he's emphasizing big plays. They are a major factor in the outcome on Sundays. In fact, the the old adage of football's three fundamentals of blocking, tackling and turnovers have been expanded on Lombardi Avenue. McCarthy says the team has five fundamentals and big plays are one of them. The last is pursuit and finish.
The Packers use local guys to don the stripes and officiate practices during the off-season and most of training camp but they gave way to the real zebras. An NFL crew, led by veteran referee Ed Hochuli arrived at camp today to work practices through Saturday night's Family Night at the stadium. They are also in town to present a seminar to the players on 2014 rule changes and officiating points of emphasis. They'll do the same with the media and I'll update the blog after class.