4 Days ’Til Camp: Playing (Mostly) By Rules

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we’ll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We’d give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Green Bay continues to be one of the least-penalized teams in the league but there is room for improvement.

A few of the most-penalized teams in Green Bay Packers history came under the watch of coach Mike McCarthy.

So, in 2010, he vowed that would end.

And it did.

With 78 accepted infractions, the 2010 team was Green Bay’s least-penalized squad since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978 and tied for third in the league. The 2011 team beat that figure, with its 76 penalties tying for fewest in the league. Last season, Green Bay had the eighth-fewest penalties with 86 – including just 45 in the final 10 games -- marking the third time in the last four years that the Packers ranked in the top 10.

Over the last four seasons, the Packers rank as the fifth-least-penalized team in the league.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, despite playing by-the-rules football last season.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari had a strong rookie season but was flagged 11 times (both accepted and declined) – tied for fourth-most among offensive tackles. Of those 11, nine were for holding. That was the most by any player in the league, regardless of position.

Altogether, Green Bay was whistled for offensive holding 28 times, according to the league’s statistical Web site. That number, which includes special-teams infractions, was the 27th-highest rate in the league. Sticking with the offensive line, Josh Sitton was guilty four times and Don Barclay, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Marshall Newhouse were guilty twice. The other starting lineman, T.J. Lang, was not flagged for holding.

Tramon Williams also had a bad season, with his 11 penalties leading the league’s cornerbacks. He was flagged four times for pass interference in a span of four weeks, and also was guilty of unnecessary roughness (twice) defensive holding (twice), illegal contact (twice) and unsportsmanlike conduct (once).

Green Bay also was among the worst in the league in unnecessary roughness (No. 25 with 11 penalties; Williams led the team with two) and defensive holding (No. 23 with nine; Williams, Clay Matthews and Sam Shields led the team with two).

On the bright side, Green Bay was first or tied for first in fair catch interference, roughing the kicker, illegal use of hands, delay of game, neutral zone infraction and offensive pass interference (one each), second in defensive pass interference (four), fifth in roughing the passer (two), and seventh in unsportsmanlike conduct (two) and defensive offside (five).

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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