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O-Line Begins to Take Shape in First Padded Practice

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O-Line Begins to Take Shape in First Padded Practice

Finally. The pads are on, and the repetitions are live.

After months of underwear Olympics, walk-throughs and install periods, Saturday marked the first padded practice of training camp. Real football has returned, even if it’s just in practice for now.

And with the arrival of this landmark on the way to the 2018 season, Mike McCarthy fittingly spent much of his media availability Saturday morning discussing players and position groups that require live hitting in order for the coaching staff to perform a thorough evaluation, notably the offensive line.

The group that is tasked with protecting Aaron Rodgers has undergone plenty of change in recent seasons. The Packers have been fairly successful developing offensive line talent, Derek Sherrod and Marshall Newhouse notwithstanding. Once-anonymous players like Lane Taylor have blossomed into reliable starters, and it may be time for the next generation to rise to the challenge.

Foremost in that group is Justin McCray, who filled in admirably at several positions last year as injuries severely disrupted the plans upfront. McCray saw his first NFL action last year, playing in 13 games, eight as a starter. The 26-year-old said that he’s focused his offseason on overhauling his body, adding stamina and strength, a change that didn’t go unnoticed by the Packers coaching staff.

“He looks good,” McCarthy said Saturday. “He looks like he’s taken that jump that you look for.”

McCray spent time at both guard spots and at right tackle in 2017, and while that versatility could still be an asset going forward, the team would like to give him a chance to develop at right guard, where he projects as the likely opening-game starter.

“It’s just nice to just see him able to play one position,” McCarthy said. “What he accomplished last year just from a versatility standpoint, not in games but also just in practice and preparation, was extremely impressive for a young player.”

Veteran Bryan Bulaga still projects as the starting right tackle despite tearing his ACL last November, and McCarthy said Thursday that he expects the veteran to be ready to play in the regular-season opener. If McCray is, in fact, the starting right guard on September 9, that leaves Kyle Murphy as the multi-positional backup.

While Murphy has been working primarily at right tackle, he has the ability to play inside, but McCarthy said Saturday that he’d like to keep Murphy on the right side of the line, so he won’t have to learn to reverse his footwork.

“We’ve always tried to keep a player, if he’s going to play tackle and guard, the preference is to keep him on one side. You can’t really do that 100 percent, but that’s the goal going in.”

In addition to discussing individual players, the Packers head man also tipped a bit of strategy that could be revealing once the season starts. McCarthy was asked about the strategic advantage of having a top-flight left tackle like David Bakhtiari.

“You really would like to play each week where you don’t have to help one of the tackles,” McCarthy said. “History will tell you that you may have to help one of them some of the time. Obviously it depends on the opponent.”

He continued to explain, however, that both tackles are crucial and hinted that the coaching staff will often leave one tackle alone on an island with whichever pass rusher provides the more advantageous matchup, using a tight end on the side of the tougher matchup.

“It’s really the open-side tackle where the emphasis is.”

This isn’t a startling discovery, but fans could use the alignment of the Packers’ tight ends to discern which opponents demand the most respect from the Green Bay offensive coaching staff.

 

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor12's picture

" You really would like to play each week where you don’t have to help one of the tackles,” McCarthy said. “History will tell you that you may have to help one of them some of the time. Obviously it depends on the opponent.”

If only our defense can make other offenses think about this as often as we need to.

Lare's picture

As has been said a thousand times, the game of football is decided on the line of scrimmage. Hopefully this year the Packers OL can stay reasonably healthy and allow protection for Rodgers and production for the running game.

JohnnyLogan's picture

What's with Cole Madison

Oppy's picture

Total guess- but my guess is a death in the family or something along those lines.

The way MM and others have reacted to Cole's absence is reminiscent of how they've reacted to other players who were missing due to deeply personal/private issues. Professional and brief, no comment, etc.

Hawg Hanner's picture

If it was as simple as a death of a family member you'd share that. Hope its not a drug problem

dobber's picture

Something like that is hard to keep from the media.

Oppy's picture

Hawg Hanner,

There have been multiple cases of Packers players missing time at practices or during the regular season due to illness or deaths in the family, etc and so forth, and when media has asked about the conspicuous absence of the player, the Packers did NOT share the information, and instead, responded much as Mike McCarthy has about Cole Madison- He's not here, we are aware, that is all.

As recently as this year's training camp with HaHa Clinton Dix just a number of weeks ago. Even when BJ Raji was missing time before he decided to walk away from the game due to two close family member's health problems, the Packers said nothing and left media and fans speculating. Why? Because the Packers honor their players' right to privacy in such things.

Nick Perry's picture

Oppy...Didn't McCarthy describe Madison's absence as "Disappointing" though? I understand your guessing but why would McCarthy call a death in the family as disappointing? Seems like an odd word to use IMO to describe anything like a death.

Perhaps unfortunate or something like that but disappointing not so much.

Oppy's picture

Perhaps disappointing that Cole Madison was unable to report to camp. I would assume MM is eager to get rookies in pads and training with the team. Could be a poor choice of words. Who knows? I can say that when asked about it yesterday, MM did not seem to have any anger or disapproval in his voice when he responded.

GatorJason's picture

Speculation board options:
a) Death in family
b) Drug issue
c) Alien abduction
d) Accused by DOJ for being a Russian spy
e) Girl friend issue
f) Boy friend issue
g) All of the above
h) Probably none of our business . . . not a football issue

My guess is option h.

GLM's picture

He may be on a quest to find the lost grail...

Perhaps he'll bring back a shrubbery...

Oppy's picture

But the Packers "Neeeeee"d him

GatorJason's picture

Speculation board options:
a) Death in family
b) Drug issue
c) Alien abduction
d) Accused by DOJ for being a Russian spy
e) Girl friend issue
f) Boy friend issue
g) All of the above
h) Probably none of our business . . . not a football issue

My guess is option h.

Since '61's picture

Oppy - I agree, but I'm thinking terminal illness of a family member. Someone that Madison needs/wants to be with as much as possible before the end. That makes it difficult to put a time frame on it.

Beyond that I also thought of a substance abuse rehab type of thing but as Dobber correctly points out the media usually picks up on those things.
While it is frustrating it is also good to see that a player, or anyone for that matter, is allowed to have their privacy respected for once.

I wish him the best and I hope that he returns ASAP. Thanks, Since '61

Oppy's picture

While it draws the ire of many fans, the Packers do seem to honor the myth of "small town/family values" when it comes to how they treat their players.

They have demonstrated many times in the past that they have great respect for the fact that their players' families and personal lives take precedent over football when push comes to shove.

billybobton's picture

If the game of pro football was determined in the LOS AROD would not have been 4-1

and BH would not have stunk

repeating old cliches' is not clever and it is even more fun to WATCH even if it takes more than one viewing

GBPDAN1's picture

Give Rodgers and the RBs a good Oline and the offense will be top 5

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Murphy apparently got almost no first team reps at RT. It was all Spriggs.

I wrote quite a while ago that I expected Lewis to line up next to the RT most of the time. That was back when we expected Bulaga to start out on the PUP, but I'd guess that's still where he will play a lot.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I'd like to know how Amichia is progressing. If he could back up LG and Center with his athleticism, that would be really helpful.

Another question would be, who backs up our elite LT? I'd love to see Spriggs take the jump--which he appears to be doing--and back up both tackle spots.

Oppy's picture

I believe it was saturday's presser that MM was talking about how they prefer to keep guys on one side of the line or the other as opposed to bopping them from left to right if at all possible. He joked that he agreed with Josh Sitton's colorful way of describing what it's like to switch sides (Sitton told the Press in Miami a few months ago "It's like trying to wipe your A## with the other hand")

Considering how frequently in the past they've had to move guys all over, I'm guessing he's trying to get away from it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

In Monday's practice Looney beat Amichia easily in the one on ones, per our own Andy Herman.

The TKstinator's picture

Was it one time?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Only one time was reported. McCray went 1-1 with Lancaster and lost to Mbu. [I've never heard of Lancaster.] Patrick went 1-1 with M. Adams and also lost to Lowry. Here is an excerpt from my daily practice round-up (link below - it is greened in the comments):

1 ON 1 Drills:
Kenny Clark > Linsley; Linsley > M Adams; Mbu > Day; Day dominated Lancaster; Lancaster beats Davis; Clark beats David but solid recovery by Davis; Adams beats Patrick; Patrick beats Adams; Mbu beats McCray; Lancaster beats McCray; Clark jumps offsides vs. Day Herman

Byron Bell just dominated Kyler Fackrell; Lowry beats Patrick; McCray wins vs Lancaster and gets a "that’s a hell of a job" from his coach. Spriggs dominates Odom; Looney wins vs Amichia easily; Donnerson getting coaches up after s poor rep vs. Bell. Herman

https://www.acmepackingcompany.com/2018/7/30/17598454/packers-training-c...

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