Sydney Speaks! Only in Green Bay

Harry Sydney breaks down the Green Bay Packers Family Night intra-squad scrimmage in his column today. Sydney points out the bright spots from the scrimmage, as well as the concerns that the coaches and fans should have about this year's team.

More than 62,000 people came out on a Saturday night to the ‘Frozen Tundra' to witness the beginning of a new era. They tailgated like it was the first home game against the Chicago Bears. The parking lots were full with people enjoying all the action and wearing their favorite Packer gear. The smell of football finally was in the air with the loyal fans getting to enjoy Family Night, the only time many will get to see their favorites in action, so what did they see?

Here's what I saw. Remember, I'm they guy who, over the years, has been very critical of the Packers because in the past they haven't lived up to all the hype and weren't as good as others might have believed they were. Also, I got tired of people making excuses for bad play and bonehead coaching decisions. As I watched the Family Night intra-squad scrimmage I thought to myself that this is going to be a long year.

I spent time searching for play-makers and, yes, I did like a few things I saw, such as Greg Jennings, but that shouldn't surprise you. I've been singing his phrases all camp. He should be the other starting receiver across from Donald Driver in the season opener against the Chicago Bears. I know we didn't get to see Robert Ferguson because of personal reasons, but it doesn't matter. I've seen enough of him for Ferguson to take a seat on the bench.

Also, another bright spot was Cory Rodgers. I liked how he caught the slant, didn't look for a place to fall down, and took it for a long gainer. At the same time I was disappointed that he allowed Ahmad Carroll to run him down. I know that's picky and Ahmad can run with the best of them, but I was looking to see if he had another gear. I also liked the way Donald Driver went up between two defenders to catch Brett Favre's long throw. On the other hand, I wish Brett hadn't thrown it because it was the same kind of thrown that accounted for 29 interceptions last year which really hurt this team. I know it was against the second-team secondary, but bad habits are bad habits and even though he thinks this team has the most talent of any team he's been on, the 2006 Green Bay Packers can't afford him to be that careless with the ball.

Also, I kept waiting to see something really happen with the running game. I know Samkon Gado got into the end zone on what some would believe to be a great block by Daryn Colledge, but that's not how I saw it. What I saw was a concern with this offensive line on that touchdown run because what I saw was Colledge get knocked into the backfield three yards deep and the defensive tackle lose sight of Samkon. Noah Herron showed that he had a better feel for the zone running scheme than Samkon, but both seemed to lack the sense of patience that is required in this type pf ball-control running attack. Another concern I have is I'm not sure this offensive line can be physical enough at the point of attack because if they can't move these second-string guys out how are they going to handle, let's just say the Chicago Bears on opening day?

There were a couple of things I noticed such as Tyrone Culver. He made his presence felt on a couple of nice defensive plays. Let's just say I now will pay more attention to him at practice. He just seems to just keep showing up around the ball which I for one like. It was unfortunate that Charles Woodson wasn't on the field, and I hope it's not a sign of the times. I also liked the way Abdul Hodge closed on a running plays. I have witnessed him doing that at practice and it was nice to see him do it when the action was live. I just hope that he will be able to handle the physical contact that he will have to endure in the National Football League. As much as I like him, he is somewhat light, only carrying 236 pounds. That's not a bunch of weight, especially when this isn't college anymore. He will have to play special teams and this is a much longer season compared to college.

As for our first round pick A.J. Hawk, did he play? If he did, I didn't notice him. He needs to be the difference-maker. I know he played, but what was his impact? I saw nothing from him that separated him from a Ben Taylor or Roy Manning. I did see Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila get after the quarterback, but that's what he does best. Besides that this defense has a long way to go before its opening game against the Bears. Before I forget it does appear that someone has gotten into Ahmad Carroll's ear because he has been playing better.

Special teams
It seems we have a battle going on between Billy Cundiff and Dave Rayner to see who gets to replace Mr. Automatic Ryan Longwell. After what I saw on Family Night against no real rush and beautiful conditions, my suggestion to Mike Stock, the special teams coach, is spend a lot of time in church my friend.

Saying all this, it's it amazing that a 4-12 team can generate such a carnival-like atmosphere as it did on Family Night, getting more than 62,000 people crazy over a practice. But then you have to remember, ONLY IN GREEN BAY DOES THIS HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and it will be forwarded to him.

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