Tuesday’s Play, Player and Position of Day

A veteran forces Aaron Rodgers into a rare mistake and a second-year player bounces back, plus our daily positional spotlight shines on the running backs.

We review the ninth practice of Green Bay Packers training camp.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Maybe this is the byproduct of Aaron Rodgers and Jarrett Bush having competed against each other on the practice field for the past eight summers.

Early in an 11-on-11 period against a scout team defense, Rodgers fired an out to Jarrett Boykin. Bush read the play as if he knew it was coming. He broke hard on the ball and got there just as it got to Boykin. Bush used his strength to grab the interception as he was heading out of bounds.

The Packers are loaded at cornerback, with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House ahead of Bush on the depth chart. Bush, however, is a virtual lock to make the team as an invaluable role player, leader and special-teams stalwart.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Second-year receiver Chris Harper has had an up-and-down training camp. That inconsistency probably is why Harper, a fourth-round pick by Seattle last year, failed to make the Seahawks’ roster last summer and couldn’t stick with San Francisco, either.

Harper’s drop on a deep pass on Family Night stands as the most noteworthy play of his training camp. Even with Jared Abbrederis out for the season, Harper appears to be seventh on the depth chart — behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Boykin, rookie Davante Adams and, apparently, second-year players Myles White and Kevin Dorsey.

Harper, however, made a couple of impressive plays on Tuesday. Early, he he made a nice catch of a high pass from Matt Flynn. Then, in a two-minute drill late in practice, he put the offense into position for the “winning” score with a 38-yard reception from Chase Rettig.

POSITION OF THE DAY

Nothing has changed at running back. Predictably, Eddie Lacy is the No. 1 back and the leader of the pack, with James Starks the solid No. 2 and DuJuan Harris on course to be the No. 3 and, perhaps, the kickoff returner.

Nonetheless, preseason games will be critical for Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins.

Harris has been good but he hasn’t been great. Thus, if the Packers go with three backs, he’s hardly a lock. On Monday night, for instance, he failed to catch a low pass in the flat and he fumbled — probably after the play was over — but any fumble is frowned upon.

Neal and Perkins have flashed at times. Neal might have had his best day on Tuesday. At one point, he got in the open field and froze impressive third-year safety Sean Richardson with a stutter-step move. At 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, he’s got the size the Packers have traditionally liked at the position. Perkins, a Harris-sized 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds, used a stop-and-start move that left Nick Perry in the dust last week, and he had a couple of nice runs on Family Night.

“I’m trying to come here and make this squad in some kind of way,” Perkins said. “That’s why I’m trying to show my speed and my abilities and what I can do out of the backfield, getting in the open field and making people miss, running away from people and things like that. We’ve got a lot of bruisers with Eddie and James, so I’m trying to bring something different to the table.”

There’s little reason for the Packers to give much playing time to Lacy and Starks in the preseason. After all, they’re going to have critical roles in an offense with bigger fish to fry than moving the chains on a Saturday in Tennessee or St. Louis. Perkins and Neal — and Michael Hill, once he’s recovered from a concussion — figure to get the bulk of the work in the four preseason games. An eye-opening performance or two could change the dynamics in a hurry.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Josh Sitton, on the offense’s up-tempo approach: “What we want to do with our offense, we want to have our tempo and we want to get to the line so we can see what the defense is doing and make our adjustments. That’s what our offense does. Run, pass, whatever it might be, we’re adjusting to what the defense is giving us. We’re trying to get into the best play possible. To able to do that, you’ve got to have that great tempo so Aaron can survey the defense. It’s good. I love it. I think it helps the offensive line out. It tires the defense out and doesn’t give them the chance to rotate, so I love it.”


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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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