Youth Night at Lambeau Field

The Green Bay Packers hosted their annual Family Night scrimmage in front of a record crowd. The scrimmage offered many young Packers fans a chance to see the team play in Lambeau Field and gave many of the team's top rookies a chance to shine.

It seemed only appropriate that the Packers end their annual intra-squad scrimmage with a victory formation Saturday night. The Packers and thousands of young fans who attended were winners. Mike McCarthy's first Family Night as head coach of the Green Bay Packers was not only great for the young fans in the record crowd, but for his young team.

McCarthy said earlier in the week that he was planning to run 50 to 60 plays during the scrimmage, putting the first-team offense against the second-defense and the second-team offense against the first-team defense. But the Packers ran nearly 90 plays from scrimmage, practicing their base offensive and defensive units, and two-minute drill. The Packers also gave the crowd of 62,701 a sneak peak at the kicking competition that has been going on through the first week of camp.

The scrimmage not only serves as a springboard into the preseason for the Packers, but gives many of the younger players and coaches on the team a very good feeling of what to expect at home on game days in the regular season.

"It's unbelievable," said linebacker A.J. Hawk, Green Bay's first-round draft pick this year. "We heard that all these people are going to be there, but until you see it, I don't think you can believe it. And they were into the game. They weren't just there watching, they were into it. I'm impressed, especially for this being a practice."

The Packers worked on running the football in their new zone-blocking scheme with live tackling for the first time this training camp. The first-team offense ran the ball five straight five straight times to start the scrimmage. While the offense failed to get a first down in its first two series, Favre hooked up with wide receiver Donald Driver for a 48-yard completion to the 11. Three plays later, Favre found Driver in the end zone in front of second-year cornerback Jerron Wishom for a touchdown.

"Brett has reached that point in camp, if my memory serves me right, it's about a week into camp where the ball starts spinning off his hand," McCarthy said. "I thought he and Aaron both threw the ball well. They gave receivers opportunities to make big plays."

Green Bay's first-team defense stopped the second team offense, led by Rodgers, on two series. But Rodgers was victim of receivers dropping a handful of catchable passes in those series. Rodgers, behind the third-string line, led the offense on a touchdown drive on his third series. He hit tight end Donald Lee with a 20-yard pass on fourth-and-7 to the 41. Rodgers then hooked up with the lanky Ruvell Martin, who shed safety Marviel Underwood along the sideline after making a catch and turning it into a 30-yard pickup. On fourth-and-four, Rodgers found wide receiver Marc Boerigter in the end zone for a touchdown.

Many of the team's top draft picks got plenty of reps with the first, second and third-team units. Rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, and second year pro Junius Coston played with all three units. Colledge and Spitz have been playing with the first-team offense throughout camp. Coston was moved to left tackle this week and has been starting for the injured Chad Clifton (knee). Hawk and Abdul Hodge played with all three units at linebacker. Rookie wide receivers Greg Jennings and Cory Rodgers showed why they were selected high in the draft. Jennings, starting in place of Robert Ferguson, made a 27-yard catch during a two-minute drill. After Samkon Gado plowed into the end zone from 10-yard out, thanks to a nice block by Colledge on Kenny Peterson, Jennings got open to catch a pass for the two-point conversion.

McCarthy said he was pleased with the conditioning of his team and attributed it to the off-season workout program, which was attended by about 90 percent of the team.

We had guys playing a lot of snaps tonight. We were scheduled to go 60 plays and we were up around 90. That's a testament to guys wanting to work and making sure we got reps for everybody. "I thought the speed of the game, the substitution and everything like that, was very good," McCarthy said. "Usually you encounter personnel problems and things like that, particularly in the preseason. I like to attribute it to the fans. It was a game-like environment and an opportunity to work game management and things like that. I was pleased with that in that area."

The Packers play their first exhibition game of the preseason Saturday in San Diego against the Chargers.


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