Notebook: Defense wins 2-minute drills

Vets get morning off, DE Montgomery gets snaps at DT, Poppinga gets shot as edge pass-rusher and much more from Friday morning's practice.

With a number of key veterans being given the morning off, the Green Bay Packers worked on the 2-minute drill for the first time at training camp on Friday morning.

A defense minus its top three cornerbacks held the Aaron Rodgers-led No. 1 offense out of the end zone. The Brian Brohm-led No. 2 offense drove inside the defense's 10-yard line but couldn't score as time expired.

"I thought the offense and the defense did a nice job," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought offensively, the mechanics of it was pretty good. For the first time out, I was pleased."

Rodgers, getting the ball at his 40 with 1:19 on the clock, completed his first three passes before faltering. He overthrew Ruvell Martin with a long pass that would have resulted in a touchdown, had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by Michael Montgomery on third down and led James Jones just a hair too far on a sideline route on fourth down.

The coaches kept the offense on the field to continue the drive. After another incompletion, Rodgers scrambled for about 5 yards on second down and was almost intercepted by Jarrett Bush on third down. The defense diagnosed a fourth-down screen, but Rodgers ran for a first down and got out of bounds at the defense's 31-yard line with 6 seconds remaining.

With the "game" on the line, Rodgers found Jones open in the back of the end zone. Jones had the ball for a moment but had it stripped away by safety Atari Bigby.

"The two-minute has been very frustrating. We just cannot score," Rodgers said, alluding to the No. 1 offense's struggles in the drill dating to organized team activities. "I'd like to have a couple of those balls, but like Coach always says, you still have gotta chance if you've got time on the clock."

Starting from his 35 with 1:24 on the clock, Brohm moved the No. 2 offense more efficiently, completing slants to Brett Swain and Chris Francies before a screen to Kregg Lumpkin moved the ball to the defense's 32-yard line with 41 seconds remaining. Completions to Swain, Jermichael Finley and Francies put the ball at the 7-yard line with 1 second remaining. Brohm fired over the middle to Jordy Nelson, but Tyrone Culver swooped in for the deflection.

In all, Rodgers finished the drill 3-for-9 while Brohm was 6-for-8, including a clock-killing spike.

Taking the morning off

McCarthy gave nine veterans the morning off: starting cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris, linebacker Nick Barnett, defensive linemen Aaron Kampman, Ryan Pickett and Kabeer Gbaja Biamila, receiver Donald Driver and offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher.

With Tramon Williams out with a hip flexor, the Packers' top three cornerbacks were Bush, rookie Patrick Lee and Joe Porter.

The starting offensive line at one point was, from left to right, Daryn Colledge, Allen Barbre, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton and Orrin Thompson. Tony Moll also got snaps as the No. 1 left tackle.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell remains out with his injured back, plus fullback Korey Hall (knee strain), halfback DeShawn Wynn (concussion) and cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) were given the morning off. McCarthy didn't sound concerned about any of those three injuries.

Going inside

The Packers are trying fourth-year defensive end Michael Montgomery at defensive tackle, especially on passing downs.

"They're trying me out there for pass rush," said Montgomery, who said he played tackle in high school. "I'm up for the challenge. I've been out there working on pass rush and some run downs, just getting a feel of it."

Montgomery, a 6-foot-5 and 273 pounds, certainly doesn't have prototypical size for a tackle. But with three of the four tackles on the depth chart either injured (Harrell, Pickett) or with legal problems (Johnny Jolly), the Packers are giving Montgomery a shot.

Montgomery says the move plays to his strengths.

"At d-end, you're in space, and now you're closer, so it's different spacing," he said. "You've got to make a quicker move than usual."

Another new role

Strong-side linebacker Brady Poppinga was used as a pass-rushing defensive end a few times. That's a role that's been speculated about with the addition of linebacker Brandon Chillar and the Packers' need to add some juice to a pass rush that features Kampman as the only consistent threat.

"Brady Poppinga is definitely a pass-rush threat," McCarthy said. "We have dinkered with that in the past and is really a reflection of what Bob Sanders has expanded to defenisvely. Just using the personnel groups and trying to get the most out of everybody. Everybody wants to talk about starting positions (but) there's not just 11 of them. That's something that Brady has been successful at in his college career, and it's something we'd like to tap into."

Extra points

— While the skill-position players ran through a gauntlet of players trying to strip the ball, the quarterbacks took snaps with balls dunked in coolers full of water.

— Crowd noised was pumped onto the field for the first time.

"We've got to improve," Rodgers said of working with the crowd noise. "We didn't have any pre-snap penalties, but we've got to execute a little and get off on the count. When you can't hear each other, you've got to better with your pointing and your adjusting on the fly."

— Rodgers was the only quarterback to throw the ball into the hoop-and-net setup, hitting nothing but net from about 50 yards. Matt Flynn hit the rim once.

— Porter hit Jennings hard on a pass play during an 11-on-11 period — a no-no when the players aren't wearing pads (especially when a player like Jennings was a bit slow to get up).

— The Packers return to the field tonight, with a full-pads practice at 6:30.

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at

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