Half the time during Friday night's practice, whoever was under center needed to maneuver within a collapsing pocket to make a play. Scrambling, ducking, dodging and throwing on the run.
Believe it or not, that's what coach Mike McCarthy prefers.
"That's good practice," McCarthy said. "We take time at practice every year in the scramble drill. As long as I've been in the league ... there are five or six plays a game a quarterback must move his feet to make a play. To get those reps in live football or competitive drills is outstanding. That's practical. That's very realistic."
Namely, Rodgers has needed to improvise with regularity through the first week of training camp. When his pocket caves, Rodgers has routinely stepped into it, sidestepped out and moved downfield to run or throw. During the morning session Friday, Rodgers struggled with five straight incompletions in a two-minute drill. During the nightcap he rebounded with several completions outside of the pocket.
"Those are all good reps," McCarthy said. "Now, is he jumping out of there too early? I don't see that. I see him stepping up, playing within his feet and coming out at the right time. I always looked at that as quality reps. Nothing irritates me more when a quarterback just stops and throws the ball on the ground. That's a wasted opportunity."
Play of the Day
Rodgers has operated inside the hashmarks, too. In 11-on-11 work, he hung in a collapsed pocket and placed a perfect pass over Al Harris to Greg Jennings for a 30-plus yard gain. The hookup easily drew the loudest cheer of the night. A big-time throw over a big-time corner. More plays like this could quell fans' fears.
— Condrew Allen: After last summer, you can bet Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are analyzing all of the team's corners like lab rats. Tramon Williams went from a nickel-and-dime camp body to, well, the nickel cornerback by year's end.
These practices go a long way.
Like Williams did last summer, a monster Family Night could creep Allen further onto Thompson's roster blotter. After two knockdowns early in the night practice in which Allen showed quick-blink closing speed, he made one elite NFL play worthy of defensive play of the night. Brohm was flushed left and bought himself extra time (and more time for his receivers to re-route). Allen stayed stride-for-stride with James Jones horizontally across the field. Brohm fired a laser to Jones and Allen — on an island — batted the ball away on the run. Keep an eye on this guy.
Johnny Quinn: In kick coverage drills when many players dog their efforts at half-speed, Quinn flies around the field at full tilt.
It's not going unnoticed.
"He's probably one of the hardest working guys we've had here through the offseason," McCarthy said.
Special teams may be Quinn's passport to the 53-man roster, but he has been a steady force in the passing game. The high-motor receiver from North Texas made a diving catch from Brohm while sandwiched between Pat Lee and Tyrone Culver.
"Production-wise, he shows up every day. He plays with a lot of toughness," McCarthy said. "I'm impressed with what he's shown so far. He has the ability to play all three wide receiver positions and is very bright."
Click herefor a feature on Johnny Quinn.
Vernand Morency: Sure, Morency fumbled Friday night. Such a play should immediately hook a running back to the doghouse. But give the Packers' veteran back credit for rebounding. If Morency hopes to make the team, he must lock down the third-back role. He's too fragile to withstand 10 to 15 carries a game, but maybe in a pass-situational role, Morency can be a valuable weapon. He showed that on one screen pass during a late 11-on-11 segment Friday. Morency caught the short pass from Brian Brohm and jitterbugged for 35 yards untouched through the Green Bay defense. Morency has shown spry stop-and-start quickness that he didn't on a bad knee early last season.
And what was Morency doing after practice — well after all of his teammates left for the dorms?
He ran through the "gauntlet" repeatedly with a football in his hands to work on his ball security.
DeShawn Wynn: In a familiar sight, Wynn was on the sideline wearing a baseball cap Friday. Wynn shouldn't push what McCarthy called a "slight concussion," but given the competition at running back (even without Ryan Grant), Wynn must return soon. The coaches need to see him play in multiple preseason games — unlike last year. Morency and Noah Herron have looked sharp.
Lee: While undrafted Allen opens eyes, second-round pick Lee hasn't shown much. No game-breaking plays. No interceptions. Nothing of substance yet to warrant the No. 3 CB spot.
Tory Humphrey: In an entertaining tight end vs. safety one-on-one drill, Humphrey dropped an easy pass right off the bat. His hands have been inconsistent throughout camp. While Humphrey has bulk, his speed in short spaces is suspect. He doesn't change direction nearly as fluidly as rookies Evan Moore and Jermichael Finley. The battle behind Donald Lee will be one to track.
Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.