After missing Friday and Saturday, tight end Jermichael Finley (concussion) and defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (personal/travel issue) returned to the field Monday for the Packers fourth training camp practice. Finley was in a helmet and sweats, and McCarthy said post-practice that he expects him in full pads for Tuesday. He caught passes early on but did not participate in any of the team drills.
Other tidbits from Day 4 of Packers camp:
Cornerback battle heats up
The Packers receiver group was the talk of the offseason, but it’s clear which position group is demanding the most attention during camp. After Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, the Packers’ cornerbacks are a jumbled mess of talented youngsters and one veteran not scared to hit someone.
Second-year cornerback Davon House was particularly impressive Monday, intercepting a pass from Graham Harrell in the red zone and breaking up several other attempts. He saw time in the dime packages, but so did Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush. McCarthy, as he’s done throughout this offseason, praised House following Monday’s practice. A year after missing most of camp last season because of a hamstring injury, House looks like a player who is starting to put it all together.
Shields had a bounce-back day after struggling mightily during the first couple of practices. He started as the team’s dime back, and then was impressive in the 1-on-1 portion. Shields needed a practice like Monday to regain his footing.
Hayward came back down to earth a little bit. He gave up a few scores in 11-on-11 drills and was also frozen solid by Donald Driver in the 1-on-1′s. Bush laid a few big hits, and even Brandian Ross—a 2011 undrafted free agent who has become a forgotten man in the cornerback group—caught the watchful eye of Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press Gazette as a potential sleeper.
The depth at cornerback is obviously there, with each guy having at least one good practice during the first four days. We’ll see how the young players perform when the lights come on and the preseason games start.
Tight ends shine
Finley remained on the sidelines Monday during team drills, but the team’s other tight ends made up for his absence. Tom Crabtree caught a pair of red-zone touchdowns, including the “game-winner” with 11 seconds left during the final two-minute drill of the practice. He’s had an impressive camp so far, especially receiving the football.
The cow-wrestling D.J. Williams continued his solid start with several more catches Monday. His day included a back-shoulder touchdown catch inside the red zone and a long completion in the two-minute drill. I pondered via Twitter whether Williams could catch 25 or more passes this season, and while I’m not confident he’ll go over that number, he’s shown enough early to think he could get the chance.
Masthay stays consistent
The Packers brought just one punter to camp, but Tim Masthay showed again Monday exactly why they only need him. According to Rob Demovsky, aka Professor Punt, Masthay hit seven-of-nine punts from midfield inside the 20-yard line Monday, including the final three all inside the 5-yard-line. He appears to be in mid-season form. For the first time in ages, the Packers need not worry about any of their four specialists.
TE Eric Lair (2011 UDFA, Minnesota) sustained the only injury of practice, limping off with a knee issue. McCarthy didn’t have an immediate diagnosis…OLB Dezman Moses, playing with the No. 2 defense, had a couple of impressive pass-rushes. He also jumped offside during the two-minute drill…WR Curenski Gilleylen has had a good camp catching the football…6-4 WR Tori Gurley outjumped Otis Merrill for a touchdown early on…FB Nic Cooper scored a short touchdown filling in for injured John Kuhn…RB coach Alex Van Pelt missed Monday’s practice while dealing with an undisclosed personal issue.