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Monday, August 15, 2005

My 1st Practice...My 1st Analysis

by bizarro
for PackerChatters

Training Camp 8-14-2005

Well, as I sit here at my laptop amid the mundane surroundings of the Green Bay Residence Inn I can’t help but worry about the status of Packer Chatters. I’m going on two days of zero access and I’m a bit worried.

However, I must persevere and continue with the Sunday TC report as if I were entering this valued information directly into the TC blog. Actually, the worry I express for the Chatters engine is very similar to the worry I had this morning at the apparent absence of Robert Ferguson.

This year’s visit is all about business…the allure of Lambeau and absolute awe of the surroundings has vanquished. Though still remotely present and always aware of the total overwhelming atmosphere that is the tradition of Green Bay, I am here to watch the players and get a feel for the team. So, when I arrived and noticed an absent Ferguson I couldn’t help but wonder where this Chatter favorite could be. My worries of a sudden trade to the Eagles (gulp) were assuaged when he showed up, though later than every other player, just before the drills began. (Big sigh from this gentleman)

The miracle of TC is the drill session really…though to the common fan they are but a routine bore, they are truly amazing. Each group is completely separate from the others and methodically working on the fundamentals of set pieces or simple positioning of hands.

Bates began his first focus on the LB’s as he tutored Barnett, initially, at proper leverage when attacking the single sled. A prime focus is placed on proper hand placement and opportune explosion into the chest of the mock blocker, and Nick’s first go around was a bit lackluster. Strangely, one player that stands out in the individual drills, Nick McNeil, somehow seems a bit lost or at least overwhelmed in the combined offense/defense drills ala 9 vs. 7 or 11 vs. 11. However, this certainly isn’t true of all the LB’s. Paris Lenon had a solid practice with good reads on running plays (one of the few LB making these reads) and Brady Poppinga had a heck of a first day back as he absolutely blew up two running plays to the right side while completely taking down the lead blocker (in this case the fullback) and subsequently knocking him into the RB. He received due praise from Batesy. Manning appeared to be very mobile and he was consistently interchanged with the 1st and 2nd teams (today at the WSLB). Woodfin shows very adept coverage ability but he may be a bit undersized…at least he was all over his assignments but appeared to get swallowed on the running plays.

This day was marked by several drops by the offense. Ben Steele dropped 2 absolutely “have to catch” balls.” One was dropped in a red zone session when Rodgers dropped a perfect pass into his hands which was subsequently dropped. It would have been a sure score. Mike Sherman was very frustrated with that play and called Steele back where he sat until the passing session immediately following the red zone where Steele dropped another pass that hit him square in the chest. On the day Steele finished 1 of 3 on easily catchable balls. On the other hand, David Martin looked very sharp. He is mobile, catches everything and is blocking better…without Bubba in he is by far the number one. If we can sign Bubba we have a very formidable duo (IF Martin actually stays healthy). The one good result of this current TE situation is that we are finding that Steele is no more than a 3 and Martin is getting much needed reps and is coming through when healthy.

Ahman Green is by far the best RB in the green and gold. It’s not even close. He looked very sure of himself out there and very solid. However, the RB’s also endured some drops. Jhonese dropped one in the flat, and William dropped one right at his chest and slapped his hands in frustration. However, more importantly William bounced up after being shaken up on a running play late in 9 vs. 7’s…collective sigh.

Some additional interesting tidbits from the practice:

1)Chris Johnson appeared for the first time…and actually immediately after I question the apparent absence of Arturo Freeman I notice he has been waived! Huh, who would have guessed this past March! Anyhow, Johnson still looks extremely fast…he looks bigger and actually looked like one of the better corners out there! None the less I am extremely pleased with this sudden progress, and I might point out that I stayed afterward to watch Chris perform some technique drills along with Joey Thomas, Horton and Torrance and he looked sure of himself while heaping praise from Lionel Washington. Once again I am excited about this turn of events.

2) *Donnell Washington lined up alongside Corey Williams with the number ones while
Cole was moved to Cletidus’ spot with the #2’s alongside Lee at Jackson NT
position. Seante Williams and Montgomery were the DE’s with the 2nd team. Again, however, even our RB’s were able to pound it toward the DT’s…continuing to be a sore thumb even though we have been getting excited.

*Whittaker still lined up with the number ones along with Klemm.
Scotty Wells was line up at LG alongside Reugamer at Center. (which means
Herrion was LG with the #3’s…however, Tauscher was also moved to RG at times
with Barry at RT. My opinion is that this battle is still completely open just as they

*Rodgers has a way to go in the passing game. The offense simply is so much more
fluid with Favre at the helm. This is entirely expected, however, given Favre’s
prowess in the offense and Rodgers unfamiliarity with it. (Rodgers didn’t look bad,
he just didn’t look “very good”)

*Nall and Sander each exchanged opportunities holding the ball. The FG unit also practiced some interesting fakes. One involving a pitch to Ben Steele (who held onto it) from an offset formation, another a rollout and run from Sander, and another involving a snub punt by Longwell. Sander continued to punt the ball very well with some absolute booming spiraling kicks that landed inside the 10.

NOW LET’S GET TO THE BEST MOMENT OF PRACTICE: Now, much has been made of the apparent disdain by GB players toward a cocky and immature Ahmad Carroll. Some people mentioned the nicknamed “highway 28” or PN and my favorite “the clap.” None the less, I though I saw an improved Ahmad in the first preseason game and he looks more mature.

Well, that may be the case…but late in the practice he and Javon Walker got jammed at the line of scrimmage and suddenly Javon and he were rolling on the ground. Mind you this occurred not five feet from where I was standing. Javon suddenly rolled on top, Ahmad’s helmet came off and Javon proceeded to clock Carroll twice in the head. Teammates soon rushed over and melee and small pile began. Nobody was injured. However, on the next play Ahmad and Javon were lined up again. Snap—Ahmad goes for jam—Walker cuts inside and totally cheap shots Ahmad straight to the head or neck (I couldn’t tell). Javon was then seen mouthing off with Carroll as the two were both sent back to their groups on the sideline. I then saw Flanny come over to Javon and give him “some skin,” as they say, as Driver was laughing beside him. Nobody was seen consoling or conversing with Carroll…though he was on the other sideline. It appears obvious who the favorite is in that battle.

Oddly enough, as the team huddled at the end of practice, Sherman brought both players to the front…he said a few things (completely inaudible to anyone on our side of the fence) and the two shook hands in a very insincere manner. Actually they didn’t even look at each other. Soon after Favre came flying from the background and jokingly pushed and laid a cheapshot on Al Harris from behind…both were smiling and laughing. Perhaps, at the ridiculous feud or some other factor of the tussle that none of us here know about.
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