Sydney Speaks! At first glance

Former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney was at the Green Bay Packers training camp over the weekend. In his column today, Sydney provides his initial observations of the Packers as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Well, it finally started and the Green and Gold finally took the field. It was that moment that everyone has been waiting for. Everyone's looking at different areas of this team to see just where the improvement might be. There have been a whole bunch of questions this off-season and on Friday night, under the lights, the first questions were starting to get answered. And this is what I have seen so far. Remember, it's only been four days but here goes!!!!

These coaches are very detailed. They coach these guys on every play and that's what good coaches do because on every play they did something right or something wrong. I also like the tempo of the practice. They get them in and out of the huddle and have established an excellent pace for practice. Every drill they do has a purpose in mind for example not only do they do one-on-one pass rush, but they do one-on-one run-blocking as well. For example, it's designed for the offensive guard to hook the defensive tackle and the defensive tackle is trying not to get hooked. I know it sounds so simple, but it's not. It's a great drill for both sides to improve.

I saw Jimmy Robinson working pass routes, explaining to the young receivers like Calvin Russell why and how to run a route correctly, teaching him how to come out of a route without giving the defender any hint to whether he was going to run an out or a post. Then I watched as Mike Stock worked with the gunners on the punt team as he was teaching them how to get off a double team. Also, I took time to watch Edgar Bennett with the running backs as they worked on pass protection. But the big thing I was watching was how Mike McCarthy was going to handle being a head coach. In my opinion, he has started out doing just fine. He isn't making any excuses, he has command of practice and he's let's his coaches coach. Those are all the good things, but there are some things that I'm not sure I like and that's that there have been way too many dropped passes, and that can't be tolerated by any coach. For the guys, so far, who have dropped some passes, I haven't gotten the sense that they know that's not accepted.

Offensive players
This is where I have been disappointed in some of the things I have seen by the players on this side of the ball. I'm still waiting to see which one of the veterans are going to raise their game and that hasn't happened yet. I have been more impressed by the young players. Greg Jennings has shown just in a few days that he belongs in the National Football league and that he's a great pick for the Green Bay Packers. If he keeps it up he will be starting alongside Donald Driver.

The other young guy that has made me take notice is Calvin Russell, a rookie from Tuskegeee who is catching everything thrown his way and running excellent routes. I know Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner are high up on the depth chart, but if they can't stay healthy or become more consistent it might be bye-bye time. Along that line, I haven't seen anything from Marc Boerigter to convince me that he can even help this team.

Now to the running backs. I'm not now or have never been a Najeh Davenport fan, and he has done nothing at training camp to make me want to be a charter member. He runs way too high and during individual drills he seems to not concentrate on what he needs to be doing, almost like he is taking things for granted like he knows he's made the team so let's put the coast on. I wish I could say that someone has caught my eye, but it hasn't happened at this point. Also, I wish I could say that someone on the offensive line has been kicking butt and taking names, but if I did I'd be lying. But I will say this: Brett Favre has looked very sharp at camp. Overall, the offense has just been going through the motions, trying to figure things out as it tries to put it together.

Defensive players
It was great to see A.J. Hawk on the field Saturday. He looked like a bull in a china shop he knows one speed and that's full. Hawk struggled with the tempo because he wants to hit somebody, but they aren't hitting full speed yet.

The guy that has grabbed my full attention has been Abdul Hodge. He seems to be playing with such patience and confidence. If he keeps this up I don't know how the coaching staff can keep him off the field, especially if he can hit the way his reputation says he can. Also on this side of the ball I hope Charles Woodson is just rusty because the receivers have been taking turns beating him in one-on-ones, or seven-on-seven drills while Al Harris started just where he left off being as solid as a rock.

Special teams
Jon Ryan is punting the air out of the ball and B.J. Sander is still worrying about his steps!!!!

Remember, these are just some of the things that I have noticed AT FIRST GLANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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