The Packers put on the pads for the first time since the Super Bowl tonight, and not surprisingly, they looked like a team in pads for the first time since the Super Bowl. Just not real sharp as yet, in execution or tempo. There may be some lockout hangover at work here too, as they haven't played football in quite a while, let alone in pads.
Still, the rough stuff is what separates the men from the boys during camp, and 1 on 1 run blocking / run defense showed that Clay Matthews is a tough customer, be it rushing the passer or taking on a blocker in the running game.
There was also an 11 on 11 period that emphasized the running game and the back who stood out most was James Starks. Planted his foot and found the hole nicely on a couple of occasions. I've been anxious to see rookie Alex Green in this type of situation but came away a little disappointed. Didn't do much, but from my sideline view, it's difficult to tell if there were any holes for him.
Mike McCarthy doesn't mess around and his team is already working on third down blitz situations. Besides a Charles Woodson interception, the thing that stood out during this drill was rookie Randall Cobb catching the ball in traffic. Now that the pads are on, most catches are going to come with at least a courtesy shot from a defender, but Cobb wouldn't be distracted.
The Packers do 1 on 1 pass protection / rush even without pads, but with them, it gets a lot more physical. Of note tonight, Bryan Bulaga continues to impress. Thought he was good as a rookie, but he should be even better this season. Handled Matthews 1 on 1, which is very tough to do. I'm also hoping beyond hope that the coaches leave him at right tackle. He can play it and play it well, why mess with a good thing? On the other side at LT, Marshall Newhouse is still looking like a player on the rise. Good hands and feet, and he's using both well. One other thing about 1 on 1 pass block / rush: if you're going against Erik Walden, buckle it up. He's going to try to come right over the top, and he does so with authority.
Moving to special teams, kickoffs are going to look different this season and not just because the ball is being moved up to the 35 yard line. Cover people have to be within 5 yards of the 35, so rather than standing and getting a running start as we're accustomed to seeing, the Packers were practicing out of a 3-point stance tonight. Makes sense for best acceleration in shorter distance.
One other thing. Yours truly mentioned the dropping of the jog-through as part of practice yesterday, thinking it might help the players get "into" the task at hand quicker. Tonight, yours truly belatedly figured out it also gives Mike McCarthy and his staff more time for real practice. Dah. Tonight, The Packers had 2 hours and 25 minutes of "real" practice, in pads.