Defense has work to do

The offensive fireworks were something to behold Friday night. Unless you suited up on the other side of the ball.

For every Brett Favre long ball was a misplay by a defensive back. For every Tim Couch completion was a mental meltdown.

Yes, there are four preseason games remaining to work out the kinks in new defensive coordinator Bob Slowik's new scheme, but the No. 2 offense made too many big plays against the No. 1 defense for the starters to simply say everything is going to be OK.

"We had some mental errors with the new things we're doing," Slowik said after Saturday's scrimmage. "We had two major breakdowns, really. One was a missed assignment because of the new scheme and the other was communication, which are very correctable."

The reserves made three big plays against the No. 1 defense.

The first and most obvious was the 71-yard touchdown pass from Tim Couch to Shockmain Davis. On that play, rookie cornerback Ahmad Carroll admits to botching his assignment, which left Sharper trying to cover two receivers. Couch's throw was on the money and hit Davis in stride. Sharper says he probably could have wiped out Davis on the play, but even then, Davis would have gained 30 yards.

Another missed assignment and then a missed tackle by starting cornerback Al Harris led to a 26-yard gain by Carl Ford. Later, Harris nailed Scottie Vines hard enough to force a bobble, but Vines held on and scampered 16 yards. Both of those plays converted third-and-longs.

With Slowik's new scheme calling for more blitzes, the secondary — without the talented and assignment-sure Mike McKenzie — has more chances to be exposed. By being aggressive, the rewards are great, but the risk is a defensive miscue means a touchdown and not just a first down.

After the scrimmage, Sharper said the responsibility to get the defensive up to speed "falls on my shoulders." With Sharper being the defense's biggest playmaker and best secondary blitzer, the onus falls on his teammates to be assignment sure, or else Slowik is going to have to go back to the drawing board.


The Packers held an unannounced Monday night practice in Lambeau Field to get ready for next Monday night's preseason opener against Seattle. The full-pads practice placed a couple more players on the team's list of injuries.

Seventh-round pick Scott Wells and sixth-round pick Corey Williams left the session with injuries.

Williams, a defensive tackle, was going to get his left hand examined after injuring it during pass-rush drills.

"When I first got off the ball, I went to make my move, and I punched. I felt a sharp pain go through my thumb and my arm," he said. "It's real, real tender."

Wells, a center, said he aggravated an injury to his left elbow, leaving numbness in his arm. "It's probably a little tendinitis, and it flared up on me tonight," Wells said.

Veterans dropping out of the practice were starting linebacker Hannibal Navies (forearm) as well as cornerback Chris Watson (hamstring) and recently signed offensive lineman Mike Collins (knee).


Joining the aforementioned rookies on the sideline were cornerback Joey Thomas and defensive tackle Donnell Washington. Thomas (knee) and Washington (foot) missed Saturday's scrimmage, as well.

Also remaining out of action were three starters: wide receiver Javon Walker (quadriceps), center Mike Flanagan (knee, on PUP list) and left guard Mike Wahle (knee, PUP). Several key reserves remain out, as well: quarterback Craig Nall (hamstring), defensive ends Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring) and Ja'Dae McGuire (abdominal strain), offensive tackle Brennan Curtin (staph infection), cornerback Chris Johnson (leg and on PUP) and safety/cornerback James Whitley (concussion).

On the plus side, for a change, tight end Bubba Franks, nose tackle Grady Jackson and defensive end Tyrone Rogers returned to practice.

Packer Report Top Stories