Sydney Speaks! An empty feeling

For all the good that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was saying about his players during the team's weekend minicamp,'s Harry Sydney disagrees. Sydney attended the minicamp and offers his professional opinion on what he saw from the Packers' running backs and wide receivers.

This past weekend was the Green Bay Packers' official mandatory minicamp where everyone that was there was supposed to show some of their stuff, especially the younger players. I didn't expect to see anything from any of the proven veterans because most of them are smart enough to understand it is what it is and that's just a minicamp.

So let's understand what this minicamp is for, or what it used to be for. I know things have changed because football now for the Green Bay Packers is a year-long thing with the players getting paid for their off-season participation.

The first official minicamp used to be for getting the players to start to think about football again and to gage where they were physically. Also, the coaches would introduce some changes in different areas and add a wrinkle here and there. Another function of the camp was to get the rookies and veterans together so that the rookies might learn how the veterans go about things, such as meetings, practice and just how they conduct themselves as potential players in the National Football league.

The biggest function for this past weekend for the coaching staff, especially Mike McCarthy, because his career as a head coach just might be at stake, was to really evaluate the talent that he saw on the field and be truthful with his assessment. Unfortunately, I think he is saying all the right things in public but he must be shaking his head behind closed doors. Trust me, as a former coach I feel his pain and will gladly explain.

Here's an example of what I mean. Mike McCarthy told the media, "The running back group, I think you'll be impressed with." I was at practice this weekend and for the life of me I don't have a clue what he based that statement on. I witnessed myself back after back, running up the back of their linemen, or slipping because they were cutting off the wrong foot. I saw backs with no patience, and one of the worst at all these things was Vernand Morency, who just might be the starter. Of course, Brandon Jackson wasn't in camp. But then again what is McCarthy going to say?

Like everyone, I enjoy some coach talk but enough is enough. I know they haven't been in pads, so to the naked eye everyone might say, ‘Harry, you don't know what you are talking about.' Trust me, because in this case I do. I'm not trying to blow my own horn, but if you have read most of my articles over the last couple of years, whether you want to admit it or not, I do know a little about the game.

It wasn't just the running backs, either. I wasn't impressed with the receiving position as well. I went to practice waiting to see something jump out and grab my attention. Sadly, nothing and nobody on offense did except for Carlyle Holiday. I like the way he ran routes and caught the ball, and I really think he has a lot of potential and could help this team.

As much as I was impressed with Holiday, I was disappointed in James Jones and David Clowney - the draft picks - and for different reasons. James Jones was supposed to have excellent hands and I saw him miss too many balls for a guy that lacks speed. Every time the ball touches his hands he needs to catch it, and he didn't which is bad when he has no burst and can't get loose from defenders. He has nothing that is going to make the guy covering him respect him, so he just might struggle at this level. As for David Clowney, I didn't see a confident receiver. It looked like he was fighting the ball for every catch he made. Nothing looked smooth, not even his route running. But what might have been the worse thing I saw at practice, believe it or not, was the fact that I saw Robert Ferguson coaching one of the young receivers. Talk about a scary sight.

I could talk about what I saw at the quarterback position, but then again I'm trying to be positive. I know that this is just minicamp, but besides Donald Driver and Carlyle Holiday, I saw nothing or no one on that side of the ball that was worthy of a second look. Trust me, I was hoping to see someone that would stand out and make me believe that the Packers could put some points on the board this year, and all I saw was a defense that better be real good because I walked away from practice with AN EMPTY FEELING.

Harry Sydney

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

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