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Quick Hit Observations from Packers Family Night

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Quick Hit Observations from Packers Family Night

The Green Bay Packers held their 13th annual Family Night scrimmage before a record crowd of 63,047 at Lambeau Field Saturday.

Here are some quick hits from the night's organized intra-squad scrimmage:

--The first series for the No. 1 offense went smoothly. Randall Cobb hauled in two first-down catches without trouble, including one reception where he spun outside after the catch and picked up big yards. James Jones had another nice run after the catch. The offensive line, which included Bryan Bulaga at left tackle and both Marshall Newhouse and David Bahktiari splitting time at right tackle, looked very comfortable. Rodgers received very little in terms of pressure. After James Starks and Eddie Lacy saw encouraging carries at running back, Aaron Rodgers found D.J. Williams for a seven-yard touchdown to finish off the 10-play, 80-yard drive. It was the kind of uneventful march you'd expect from Rodgers and the No. 1 offense against the backups.

--Early on, B.J. Raji continually blew up second-team center Don Barclay at the point of attack. Granted, Barclay is still in the infant stages of learning how to play the position, but Raji certainly made his presence known during his limited reps. Later on, Dom Capers ran a cross blitz to the A-gap against the unproven interior of the No. 2 offensive line, and the results were predictable; A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones both knifed into the pocket for what would have been an easy sack.

--Back in 2009, a rookie linebacker named Clay Matthews looked like the real deal the second he stepped on an NFL practice field. Datone Jones is giving off the same vibe in this year's camp, and he did nothing to hurt that momentum Saturday night. He looks the part, both in size and athleticism. He might have had two or three sacks in a real-game setting, and he even pursued well down the line against the run. Jones is going to be a player.

--Jeremy Ross looked every bit the part of an NFL returner. Despite previous ball security issues, Ross caught the football confidently Saturday night and then showed off his impressive return ability. He returned one kick 49 yards. He's just a no nonsense, north-south runner, who also understands the angles and blocking assignments of the return game. Mike McCarthy said this week that Randall Cobb would be his returner if there was a game this week, but I'd still be surprised if Ross wasn't the primary returner by the time Week 1 rolls around. On the flip side, Johnathan Franklin might have put his return candidacy in real trouble after dropping a kick and looking visibly uncomfortable catching a punt. There's a lot to like once he has the football in his hands, but he has a long ways to go in terms of getting the basics of returning down.

--The Packers have to be pleased with the start from running back Eddie Lacy. He proved to be a decisive runner who was difficult to bring down at the second level. He also moves the pile after contact like no other Packers running back on the roster. It would have been nice to see Lacy in a goal line situation, but everything else about his debut was very good. He passed the eye test with flying colors.

--The backup quarterback job has been one of the more open competitions of camp, with B.J. Coleman receiving a realistic chance in Year 2 to unseat Graham Harrell as the Packers No. 2. On this night, Harrell staked his claim for keeping the job, while Coleman was inconsistent and occasionally erratic. While splitting reps, Harrell was accurate and confident in his decision-making. He threw one touchdown pass with no interceptions. Coleman, however, tossed a pair of picks, including one where he telegraphed his decision and then delivered a terrible throw that was returned for a touchdown. Later, he was intercepted in the end zone on another ball he probably wishes he had back. Mixed in were a few big throws, including one rope down the seam to Tyrone Walker and another near the boundry to Alex Gillett in the two-minute drill, but Coleman needs to be much more consistent during the preseason to beat out Harrell for the backup job.

--No one can say that the Packers kicking competition is just for show after tonight. Mason Crosby struggled mightily Saturday, missing five of eight kicks overall and four from 45 yards or shorter. His night was an unmitigated disaster, and he looked visibly and understandably frustrated after one of his final misses. He has all the leg talent needed of an NFL kicker, but it's looking more and more like mistakes snowball for him. Meanwhile, Giorgio Tavecchio connected on six of seven attempts. It was a decisive win for the Italian kicker, and it wouldn't be a huge stretch to say he's at least pulled even with Crosby in the competition. But I'm not confident Tavecchio winning the job is a win for the Packers, as he doesn't have a big leg and you'd worry about his ability to make a long kick in the cold. His 53-yarder on a balmy August night bounced off the crossbar and in. The Packers can't feel great about their kicking situation right now.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

redlights's picture

Lacy seemed like a beast. Or our #2 defense is really bad. Barrington was around the ball a lot.

I understand that everything is vanilla right now, but everyone seemed to be on the same page. No mis cues.

MM says that Cobb would be the returner if the season started today. I think that's a ploy to keep Ross and the rest hungry. Ross looked very good.

redlights's picture

I also see Jarett Freakin Bush still can't cover.

Steve's picture

This made me giggle

Bearmeat's picture

How did Perry look???

Oh, and you've convinced me to draft Lacy in the 5th round of my FF draft!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Lacy and Datone looked great. Seriously excited.

Giorgio may not be the answer, but there's no way we can go into the season with Missin as our starter, it's in his head, and we can't afford to continue to play through his issues. I'm a big Ted guy, but if he doesn't cut ties with him, he'll lose a little of his shine in my eyes. It's not like mine is a knee-jerk reaction. This is an ongoing problem that could cost a legit SB contender games... Can't have it.

Johnny's picture

I'm not so sure it's solely up to Ted. I mean yes, Ted is ultimately the one who knocks but I think McCarthy also has a lot of say in this just given how much support he gave Crosby last season when he was in his rut.

DBH's picture

I get that Crosby has "NFL" leg strength...

That being said, shouldn't they take the guy that puts in 90% of kicks within 50 yards as opposed to 65% of ALL kicks up to 60 yards?

Crosby has elite leg strength and provides an opportunity to score any time the team crosses midfield, but you can't frequently miss from inside of 40 yards and expect the few longer kicks he can make to make up for the bad misses from short range.

I'm ready for a season with a kicker that won't regularly screw up the short kicks...I'm hoping for Tavecchio

Barutan Seijin's picture

Crosby's reputation as a big leg kicker is unjustified. He doesn't make the long ones that often. He was 2 for 9 at 50+ yards last year, & 14 for 33 for his career. Janikowski is 42 for 75. Blair Walsh was 10 for 10 at 50+ last year.

Chad Toporski's picture

"That being said, shouldn’t they take the guy that puts in 90% of kicks within 50 yards as opposed to 65% of ALL kicks up to 60 yards?"


Fish . Crane's picture

"there comes a time" The Andy Griffith Show. Google and enjoy.

Lou's picture

Ryan Longwell made the kicks consistently from 45 and under and did it for 17 seasons, and unlike Crosby (1 or 2 game winners in his career) he could hit the game winner. Big leg, give me a break, he was 21st in touch backs last year and if you watched the kickoff competition our punter and Crosby's challenger both kicked off better than Crosby. Pressure is Crosby's achilles heal and that big leg from his rookie year is history.

Barutan Seijin's picture

Crosby would be lucky to bounce a 53 yarder off & over the crossbar.

lebowski's picture


Al Fresco's picture

First a big call out to Fox 11 for on line streaming the event. Allowed us in other states to see it.
On that note, as a retired training professional, I was super impressed at the staging. Other than a real game, this is tremendous experience for the new players and a great way to practice and evaluate all phases of the game without injury.
Very cleaver approach, great to for fans without season tickets. The whole event is first class.

redlights's picture

Lots of camp left to work things out. Glad to hear no one on here jumping off the cliff, though.

Ma Linger's picture

1. Can't really judge fairly the defense when they aren't allowed to lay any wood on. I'm sure they are licking their chops for next weekends action.

2. Lacy looked the beast. Pease looked interesting also. Coming out of the backfield, making a great catch and run, this guy needs to be looked at too.

3. Coleman telegraphs his throws like a second year QB in college. Under impressed with the guy at this stage of his development.

4. Based on the kicking who knows. Way to early for that.

5. Josh Sitton may be the only one that can wear that strange hat. On him it looked good

I bleed Green More's picture

I want to thank fox 11 for streaming Family night, for those out of the area it makes it great. My brother is in Kenosha and said they are going to be blacking out games if CBS does not get their act together, that is a crime to me.

dullgeek's picture

Re: Crosby, I thought that the attempts that Masthay had on kickoffs was for the purpose of trying to determine if he could kick off and Tavecchio could just do FG attempts.

To me, this practice made it look like Crosby is behind in the competition.

Edit: Oops. Looks like CD already addressed this.

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