One: The Big Deal
It took just a few minutes for Desmond Bishop to ring in the new football year.
During a half-speed tackling drill early in Sunday night's practice, Bishop — participating in his first full-pads practice of camp — put his face mask directly on a football being carried by Robert Francois, a fellow linebacker who was serving as the running back. The ball popped loose, causing one defensive player to yell, "He's baaaaack!"
Yes, Bishop — the Packers' leading tackler and most physical defender — was back.
Graham Harrell hit Jermichael Finley for a completion during a two-minute drill. Right about the time the whistle blew, Bishop drilled Finley. During a one-on-one pass-rushing drill, Bishop got one rep — which he used to push offensive tackle Shea Allard into the backfield with incredible violence.
Finally, during a goal-line drill late in practice, Harrell floated a pass to the flat for fullback Nic Cooper. Right about the time the ball hit Cooper's hands, the 238-pound Bishop hit the 249-pound fullback. Cooper went backward, the ball hit the ground and coach Mike McCarthy went into an expletive-filled tirade about what he felt was an unnecessary hit at practice.
"Well, that's part of training camp," a calmer McCarthy said after practice. "You go through it every year. It never just shows up. You've got to learn how to practice together, you've got to learn the difference between a drill and competitive period and a scrimmage. But I think our guys are very good. Sometimes, there's a line there, and we're going to cross it. That happens. It's no different than fights. I'm not as concerned about when guys get into a fight; I'm more concerned about what happens once it started and how it's cleaned up. I think that tells you a little more about your people and if they're taking care of one another. It's all part of the training camp."
Two: Rookie of the Day
Entering the night, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was a dominating 10-0 in the one-one-one pass rushing drill. He'd add one more victory to the tally to run his mark to 11-0, based on numbers compiled by Packer Report and the Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky. Of those, six came at the expense of first-round pick Nick Perry, who was just 3-8. One of their matchups ended with Bulaga punctuating a decisive win by shoving Perry onto his butt.
Perry got some revenge on Sunday, though, with a mighty bull rush that sent Bulaga reeling backward and onto his butt. Yes, it's just one play among the countless hundreds of plays during the first 11 days of training camp. However, put into context with Perry's performance on Family Night, and perhaps the first-round pick is turning the corner and on his way to a productive rookie season.
Three: Position of the Day
Each day, we take a look at the competition at one position.
Offensive line: The Packers' starting offensive line is tremendous. Entering Sunday, the starting five had a combined record of 35-2 in the one-on-ones. Without left tackle Marshall Newhouse (concussion) and center Jeff Saturday (rest), however, the offense suffered through a mostly miserable night.
The Packers are fine with Evan Dietrich-Smith being the primary backup at both interior spots. Replacing either of the tackles, however, is an entirely different matter. Herb Taylor, a journeyman who hasn't played in a game since 2008, generally held his own against the likes of Clay Matthews and Perry, though he did allow a sack to Dezman Moses in a two-minute drill and had a few major mental errors (wasn't on the field for a field-goal attempt, was flagged for a false start and appeared to be unaware of the clock as he was slow getting to the line of scrimmage as time ran out on the aforementioned two-minute series).
"You've got to give credit, No. 1, to Herb and you've got to give credit to the personnel department," McCarthy said. "You find a guy like that once in a while and sometimes an individual needs an opportunity to step away or learn from his past experiences. He's been a very consistent, workmanlike player since his time here. I really like what he brings to the table.
The other option at tackle, seventh-round pick Andrew Datko, has really struggled through camp. For the interior, the only returning player who spent time on the active roster was Ray Dominguez, but he's out with a significant ankle injury. None of the undrafted players have emerged. Tommie Draheim, who was promoted to the second unit last week, went 1-4 in the one-on-ones on Sunday.
Bulaga, on the line's performance in the scrimmage: "I think we did some good things. I thought the jumps were pretty good. The Lambeau Leaps were on point. There's some stuff we can clean up but, overall, we did some good things, converted some third downs."
Running back Alex Green, on a play that gave him confidence in his reconstructed left knee: "Obviously, we're not really going full or tackling, but I got tackled in one practice on my left knee, on my reconstructed knee and it kinda scared me at first, but me getting up and running off and finishing the play, I realized OK, it's still here and it's not going to buckle on me."
Bishop, on his goals for the season: "I think it's the same goal as everybody — just be the best at your position. That's my individual goal. At the same time, winning the Super Bowl, that outweighs everything, first and foremost, and then everything else will fall into place."
Tight end D.J. Williams, on the changing practice schedule: "My stomach doesn't agree with it just yet. I'm out at practice and I'm either hungry or it's ready for bathroom time."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.