Packer Report chat: OTA edition

You had questions and Bill had answers as we talked Packers after Wednesday's third open practice. The 3-4 defense and Aaron Kampman were among the hot topics. Our next chat will be held on Wednesday, June 24, following the final day of minicamp.

Bill, how does the defense look this time in learning the 3-4?

Bill: Some ups and downs, which really isn't much different than in years past. Sometimes, the offense wins; sometimes, the defense wins. A few guys stood out, like Pat Lee and Desmond Bishop. They both had good days. It seems like guys are getting more confortable and are making few mistakes, which is encouraging.

Is Clay back from the hamstring injury?

Bill: Clay Matthews was back for a while then went to the sideline. Not sure if that was the plan or if he aggravated something. He wasn't in the locker room to ask. I'm assuming they're just being careful. Especially with the three-day minicamp coming in a couple of weeks.

How did Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm look in practice today?

Bill: Ups and down for both quarterbacks. Brohm certainly looks better than he did last year. A lot fewer wounded ducks than last year. He might wind up challenging Flynn for the No. 2, but Flynn still seems to have a better feel of running things.

Nick Collins still hasn't returened to practice yet has he?

Bill: No sign of Collins. I assume he'll be at the minicamp, because that's mandatory.

Bill, How did Anthony Smith do today?

Bill: Obviously, Smith has a comfort level that the other guys don't have, since this is the defense he's been running since he got in the NFL. Tyler Dunne will have a story on him in the next day or three. With his knowledge of things, it will be interesting to see if he pushes Bigby for a starting job. I don't think he will, but he's got some talent. Seems to me, Smith is more suited for Collins' position, and Collins isn't going to lose his job.

So, who has been lining up at the third wideout position, Nelson or Jones?

Bill: Actually, both, since Greg Jennings didn't practice today. He was there but didn't practice. I was in the locker room when McCarthy was talking, and nobody bothered to ask McCarthy about Jennings. So, with Jennings out, a lot of the younger guys got a bunch of extra reps. Jake Allen and Lorne Sam, a couple practice squad guys last year, didn't practice either. Kole Heckendorf, Brett Swain and Jamarko Simmons made a lot of plays and took advantage of the added opportunities.

I have been one of the doubters of the Aaron Kampman switch, but how did he look?

Bill: Either not very good or Allen Barbre is going to be a great right tackle. Barbre handles Kampman practically every time on passing plays. Greene yelled praise a couple times at Kampman's play in coverage. I didn't see him break up any passes like he did last week, though.

I honestly think he will become the biggest liability on our D.

Bill: I think Kampman will be fine. He's a good athlete, smart and has a lot of pride. Most of the time, he's going to be going after the quarterback, so in that sense, his job won't change.

Tell me how you can have confidence in Kampman when he was being handled by Barbre?

Bill: I have confidence in Kampman because he's a two-time Pro Bowler. If he gets more comfortable with what he's doing, I wouldn't bet against him.

I would because he's not very athletic and his bull rush was his strongest most polished move. Now he has lost even more weight and strength and has very few speed rushing ability or moves like a true linebacker. I'm worried about this.

Bill: Kampman's a lot better athlete than people are giving him credit for. He's still going to be rushing the passer from the end. There really aren't many changes in that regard.

Reading about today's practice, sounded like people were really flying around, sounds like a real upbeat OTA.

Bill: That's the fun thing about watching the defense. After a few years of the same old, same old, there's guys coming from every which way. I can't imagine being an opposing offense and having to deal with all of that during just a few days of practice. I can see why this defense has been so successful over the years.

You mentioned Pat Lee, I have a feeling that this year the light will click with his talent and he could be a solid dime.

Bill: The Packers need him to, obviously. Can't miss on too many second-round picks. I didn't notice him much the first two weeks but he made some good plays today. I talked to him last week. He's on his fifth defensive coodinator in six years. Head must be spinning.

How does Aaron Rodgers do in going against the 3-4 defense?

Bill: Rodgers really made some big-time throws today. On one blitz, he threw a lazer to Driver, who made the catch at the sideline. Not sure if Rodgers even looked at Driver. Just knew he'd be there. He threw a couple of great long balls to Jones today, too.

Sounds like Barbre is locking up that RT spot....

Bill: Breno Giacomini better get back, that's what I'm thinking. Barbre's always had the talent. Strong as an ox with well above-average athleticism. Just didn't seem to get it the last couple years. Third year in the league, maybe it's clicking for him.

Did Justin Harrell pracatice today?

Bill: Harrell practiced. Didn't see him do anything. It was nickel day, and he doesn't have much of a role in that.

Personal opinion...Kampman keeps his mouth shut this year and bails next year.

Bill: You could be right. Obviously, if he has a good year and falls in love with this defense, then he'd be more likely to stay. If he just doesn't like it, yeah, I'm sure he's outta here.

Could it be Kampman believes this move hurts him during a contract year? That's why he is upset?

Bill: Kampman doesn't seem like the type who gets too caught up in money. It's a good theory though and it very well could be true.

Bill, in your opinion, if things get ugly with Collins, which is a possibility, would you say Rouse or Smith would complement Bigby?

Bill: Definitely Smith, because that position is the guy who runs the show. I don't see Rouse being able to be the type of on-the-field coach this defense needs.

A safeties job in a 3-4 as far assignments isnt as different as say, a linebacker's or d lineman's. I think the safeties will not have problems

Bill: For the safeties this year, think about Pittsburgh. Polamalu spends a lot of time near the line of scrimmage. That will be Bigby's role. The other safety has to run the show. Sometimes, he's the last line of defense. Sometimes not. So, there are some big changes for them.


Some fans are looking forward to the Packers facing Brett Favre.
Al Bello/Getty Images

I hope to see A-Rod vs Favre. Favre will be playing for Vikings, thats a guarantee.

Bill: I'm sure you're right. From the minute he got his release, it seemed like a foregone conclusion. I'm sure Rodgers wants it too, considering all of the BS last year. He doesn't seem like the type who'd get rattled, like Favre did that first time he went up against Holmgren. Those tickets will be worth a few bucks!

Favre against Rodgers will draw Super Bowl-type ratings.

Bill: I think that's why ESPN is pushing it so much. They've got that Monday night game early in the season.

Sorry to bring Favre up but I coudn't resist.

Bill: No worries. He's on a lot of people's minds. He's one of the best ever. You can't help but talk about Favre. What would this franchise be without him? Would they have won that Super Bowl? Would there be a new Lambeau? He was a hell of a player who seems to have some issues these days.

Seems like Rouse doesn't fit anywhere, and for a third-round pick ol' Ted sure seems to be wiffing on these high picks. Abdul Hodge comes to mind.

Bill: He'll back up Bigby. That position might suit him. Like I've said though, I'm not a big Rouse fan. He's made some big plays in his time here but he's another guy that the parts just don't add up like they should.

I think I would like to see Rouse get a chance at OLB. He's got the size and speed. Didn't he also play some linebacker in college? I say that because i don't think he can read the fiield as well as a true safety, but has a great nose for the ball, and is physical. I'm a big fan of his.

Bill: You're right about Rouse starting his career at Virginia Tech as an LB, but they don't need any more linebackers, I don't think. That's their deepest area already. I'm not sure where he'd fit. And, I don't see that physicality. I see a big guy who can run but isn't a great tackler and makes too many mental errors. I'm no personnel expert though.

Bill, Which of the younger players need to step up this season?

Bill: You name them on the offensive line. Spitz, Colledge, Barbre/Giacomini. They have to step up. Pat Lee on defense, because they need a young corner. Someone has to play the other outside linebacker, so Jeremy Thompson or Clay Matthews are young guys who have to step up, too.

I think James Jones, too.

Bill: Good answer. Jones is a good player, assuming that knee injury is behind him. He was a man against Jacksonville at the end of the year. He's such a big guy and good route runner. He doesn't seem that fast, but he's gotten deep enough where I'd consider him a pretty good threat.

How did Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon do in practice today?

Bill: Williams is a heck of a good player, especially considering he wasn't drafted. I'm not sure you want him starting over the long haul, though he was a godsend without Harris last year, but he's a quality nickel guy. Blackmon is a good punt returner. Really good. I think the Packers would prefer to see Lee take over as the fourth corner in place of Blackmon. I've seen enough of Blackmon on defense. He's OK but that's about it.

How is Quinn Johnson looking?

Bill: Didn't notice much out of Quinn. I talked to him afterward. It's hard to figure out much out of a fullback this time of year when the plays are at three-quarters speed. His success will be based on his ability to root defensive ends out of the play.

I gotta know, who has the longer hair, Hawk or Clay?

Bill: There's a good one. I dont think I've seen Clay without the ponytail. I'll go for Hawk. Bigby has them all beat, though.

Bill, When do you think the front office will start signing their draft picks?

Bill: They almost always wait until mid-July, so I'm assuming the same. With that said, they cut two guys today. I was wondering if that meant they were close to signing someone or just wanted some flexibility in case someone becomes available.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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