On Family Night, they let the dogs loose. And boy, did the defense lay the lumber. Here are a few highlights of the big hits:
-- Safety Atari Bigby earned the loudest roar from the 59,362 fans with an open field collision.
-- Cornerback Tramon Williams looked more like former New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens, headhunting for anybody to hit (ask wide receiver Chris Francies who was absolutely run over by Williams).
That's only a taste of the action.
Rookie Aaron Rouse has managed to sneak in more big hits than anybody during practice. After the defense's first green light to hit freely in the scrimmage, Rouse was all smiles.
"It felt great to go out there and hit for real," said Rouse, who stuffed DeShawn Wynn for his hit of the night. "It's only a scrimmage, but it's a real game to me…any chance I have to lay a guy out, I'm going to take it."
First-team offense is sharp
It was refreshing to see a defense with a constant attacking mentality. Even better though was the play of quarterback Brett Favre and the Packers' first team offense. Starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson got the night off, which certainly helped. Still, on two drives, the offense moved the ball at will, mainly with precise passing.
Favre was 13-for-15 for 156 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He hooked up with Donald Driver four times for 72 yards, including a 33-yard beauty over his outside shoulder with cornerback Frank Walker tight on coverage. On the team's opening drive, Favre was 5-for-5, finishing with a 12-yard thread-the-need touchdown to Driver.
"We wanted to start fast," Driver said. "Greg asked me early on if we even had an incomplete ball and I said no. That tells you right there that everybody was comfortable with each other."
Here are other notes from a night full of tribal dancing, speed painting, fireworks, and ‘Spongebob Squarepants' screamin' six-year olds:
Offensive Play(s) of the Day Bodiford was a jack-of-all trades Saturday night.
On the score sheet, David Clowney returned a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown but realistically he would have been tackled after about 30 yards (all special teams remained in ‘thud' mode).
On the other hand, Bodiford had two legitimate returns and a long reception too. On a kickoff he flew up the left side without hesitation for 53 yards. Later on, Bodiford took back a punt return for 30 yards untouched. And just in case that wasn't enough, he caught a difficult, outstretched 25-yarder on offense.
It appears the team is gaining a lot of confidence in Bodiford. He was on the field early and often in special teams work, and even though the coaches withheld contact in this department, Bodiford stepped up.
"The bullets were flying and I was trying to dodge them," said Bodiford. "Special teams, you only get three or four returns a game, so you've got to take advantage of every one."
Defensive Play of the Day
Any of the aforementioned ‘Christian Okoye-on-Steve Atwater' vintage hits could apply here. But on a night in which Brett Favre was nearly perfect, safety Nick Collins gets the nod for capitalizing on the future Hall of Famer's one miscue.
In the team's two-minute drill segment, Favre had the offense moving for a third straight touchdown. On third-and-8 at the 20-yard line, Driver flew up the sideline and Favre anticipated a cut in, which left the ball up for grabs in centerfield. Collins was there and returned the pick for 63 yards.
"I just got a good read off of Brett Favre," Collins said. "I was in the right spot at the right time.
"On those routes at that spot on the field, I know they're going to try to throw it in the middle. That's the weakness of the defense. I read Brett's eyes and I ended up in the right spot at the right time."
Stock is Up
Noah Herron made the most of his carries. Herron finished with 29 yards on five attempts, including a powerful 13-yard run up the gut on Green Bay's starting front seven. Herron also caught two passes for 19 yards.
Despite outperforming rookie Brandon Jackson on the ground, Herron isn't campaigning for the starting nod.
"There are so many roles that need to be filled on this team and I'm just trying to expand mine as much as possible," Herron said. "I kind of have a niche on third down but at the same time, I'm always looking to expand my role. Whatever it is, I'll do it."
Jackson started at running back just as he has all training camp. The rookie did OK, averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
Pound-for-pound, Herron runs much stronger than Jackson, Wynn, and P.J. Pope, which will almost certainly force the coaching staff to play him more on the first two downs. In the preseason, it would be worth giving Herron 10-15 carries to see how he responds to a heavier workload.
Saturday night was an encouraging preview.
Stock is Down
Third-string quarterback Ingle Martin has played far better this training camp than last summer. His knowledge of the system is rising - a direct effect of McCarthy's quarterbacks school.
Now he just needs it to translate to a game atmosphere. His first crack at that this season was ugly. Martin failed to move Green Bay's offense as well as Favre, Aaron Rodgers (12-22, 134 yards), and Paul Thompson (4-8, 45 yards). The second-year pro finished 2-for-7 for seven yards passing.
Martin will have a lot more chances in preseason to redeem himself, but his Family Night showing didn't exactly entrench a roster spot.
He Said It
"I feel it's coming along well. It's not exactly where we need it to be yet. But I think we are miles ahead of where we were last year. I like the guys we have back there. I don't think it will matter if we have one specific superstar running the ball or a bunch. There are advantages to both. Obviously it's a big advantage to have more than one running back so if one goes down, we have another guy ready to step in. He have a great stable of backs back there, whether it's Vernand [Morency], Brandon [Jackson], Noah [Herron], or whoever they throw back there."
- Center Scott Wells on the progress of the team's running game
Tyler Dunne is a student at Syracuse University. He is in Green Bay covering the Packers during training camp for PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.