If you believe in omens, how's this one. As practice started tonight, a beautiful rainbow appeared over Ray Nitschke Field. Super Bowl here we come.
The story of the actual workout was two-fold. One, a half dozen or so established vets who've earned their stripes, were given the night off. That's pretty much SOP for a Mike McCarthy camp, but for the first time that group included Aaron Rodgers, and that leads us to the other headline, which was Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell running the show. As McCarthy said afterwards, it's like getting the keys to the car.
Both handled the increased workload and responsibility well, and that's especially good news in Harrell's case. He was hardly a lock to make the team last summer, and as #3, even his in-season practice reps were limited. Yours truly sees all the practices and yours truly didn't have a clue on what Harrell could do. All I knew was that he was one of those guys the other guys liked being around. Always smiling, good sense of humor, that kind of person. If tonight is any indication, he also has a chance to play quarterback in the NFL. As a matter of fact, the biggest play of the night was a Harrell bomb to Tori Gurley, an undrafted free agent wide receiver. Dom Capers didn't cut either of the young QB's any slack either. He even dialed up his "psycho" package a number of times, so Flynn and Harrell had plenty to cope with.
The friskiest drill of the night was 1 on 1 blitz pickup between the running backs and inside linebackers. Think cat-quick fairly large person with a 5 yard run at a somewhat smaller person who has to hold his ground. 263 pound fullback Quinn Johnson is best-suited for that kind of duty and he stopped rookie linebacker Elijah Joseph cold. 225 pound Alex Green got steamrolled pretty good by Robert Francois, but Green gets points for not giving an inch when the two got into a brief scuffle. There was an edge to the whole practice that way, and that's not a bad thing during training camp. Even Tramon Williams and Jermichael Finley exchanged hostilities at one point. It was that competitive.
On tonight's rookie watch, Ryan Taylor (TE / 7th Rd) will be interesting to watch on special teams this preseason. In one drill, his job was to get a cover man blocked. Totally abused him, put him on the ground and kept him there. Football is a game where it helps to be a little bit of a jerk. You know, rub the guy's nose in it if you can and that's just what the 6'3" 254 pound Taylor did.
6th Rounder Caleb Schlauderaff, an offensive guard, is struggling. His good reps at 1 on 1 pass protection (the acid test for offensive linemen) have been few and far between. He'll battle but his set and hand placement are all over the map.
2nd Rounder Randall Cobb, you can't tell he's rookie. He's so smooth he looks like he's been a Packer for years.