For the first time in training camp, the Green Bay Packers put on the pads and did some real hitting.
If the fans filling the Ray Nitschke Field bleachers expected some fireworks on this sunny Saturday morning, they went home tanned but disappointed.
As far as first-day-in-pads practices go, this one was relatively low-key. Not only were there no fights, but there was no after-the-play pushing and shoving or past-the-whistle blocking and hitting, either. The hitting was crisp but the players didn’t cross the line.
“I think it was (good to get physical),” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “I’m happy there wasn’t a lot of fights. Usually, first day of pads, a lot of fights break out but you can tell this team is more mature. We understand (how to) work with each other, but we also understand it’s a competitive deal and we are getting graded on this.”
On Friday, linebacker Clay Matthews said the first padded practice of the year tends to be sloppy. Coach Mike McCarthy, however, was pleased.
“I thought we got off to a solid start,” he said. “The things that I pay close attention to are obviously the new drills, the pace of the drills. Are we getting out of the drill what we hoped to get out of the drill? The competitiveness of the drill. I think we got off to a solid start. A lot of video. We did more team work today than we did the last two days. That’s the best work that you can have, competing against each other. I thought we got a lot of teaching done in the special teams segments.”
Tight end Andrew Quarless practiced for the first time after missing the first two days due to a family situation. He even took some snaps with the No. 1 offense.
“From a professional standpoint, you’ve got to make sure that he’s OK, and that’s the priority,” McCarthy said. “But as far as his workload, just treat him as if it was his first day. The first two practices were obviously laid out different. Obviously, this was a much more demanding practice as far as the length and the team periods. So, just being real smart with his reps and just had a couple of people watching him.”
Receiver Adrian Coxson, an undrafted rookie from Stony Brook, dropped out early and was taken away in an ambulance.
“We had a situation where he just was feeling fatigued, lightheaded. So, he’s under observation right now,” McCarthy said.
Otherwise, the report was unchanged from Friday. Receiver Ricky Collins (heel), running back John Crockett (ankle) and outside linebacker Mike Neal (hernia/abdomen) remain on the PUP list and cornerback Quinten Rollins (hamstring) remains on the nonfootball injury list. Also out were guard Matt Rotheram (ankle) and receiver Jared Abbrederis (concussion).
Two key reserves, offensive lineman Don Barclay and outside linebacker Andy Mulumba, are returning from torn ACLs. So far, so good for both. Barclay has played right tackle and both guard spots while Mulumba has been one of the team’s more impressive defenders through three days.
“It was a lot of anxiousness,” Mulumba said. “I was rusty, I hadn’t put the pads on in 10 months, so for me, the first couple plays in 1-on-1 or during the half-line drill, I think I was really rusty. I just had to get it out of me and after that I started picking it up and I came back and I started feeling comfortable with everything.”
After three days of practice, the Packers will have a mandated off-day on Sunday. Then it’s back to work with 8:20 a.m. practices on Monday and Tuesday. After an off-day on Wednesday, the team will practice at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s Family Night at Lambeau Field. All practices are open to the public, weather permitting.
Bill Huber is publisher of 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.