Notebook: Camp Practices Nos. 2-3

The running game is a reason for optimism but the blitzing defense dominates against the offense.

When it's only the second day of training camp, perhaps taking a "glass is half full" approach is best. That seemed to be the direction Packers coach Mike McCarthy favored after the morning practice session concluded Sunday at the newly christened Ray Nitschke Field. There were plenty of encouraging – and discouraging – moments for him to ponder.

On the plus side, a spirited run drill caught his eye with running backs Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, Kregg Lumpkin, DeShawn Wynn and rookie Tyrell Sutton each taking their reps and showing flashes of speed and power.

"It was a good run drill," said McCarthy. "I thought the practice, as a whole, I thought the tempo was OK. I thought the start from the offense was very poor with the mental errors and the repeat of plays in the screens and deceptive period. Outside of that, the blitz period, I thought the defense had the advantage there. But a lot of good things to teach off of."

The No. 1 defense really teed off on the No. 1 offense during the blitz drill, harassing Aaron Rodgers into throwing an interception and completing only 1-of-5 passes. Inside linebacker Brandon Chillar also blitzed Rodgers and got a sack.

On the ground, Grant showed some quick bursts through the line and, as he legged out a long run down the sideline, he evoked images of him doing the same thing on a snow-covered Lambeau Field two years ago in the playoffs against Seattle. Grant is out to prove that he can regain his 2007 form.

"Of course, I think every year running backs have chips on their shoulders," Grant said at his locker shortly after practice. "We didn't have the team that we wanted or the season we wanted last year so we should have a chip on our shoulder. We've got a lot of talented guys that want to step up so you know they're fired up and excited. We have something to prove to ourselves. You want to win, you want to do everything you can to help this team win and play at a high level because we've got some very talented guys in this offense. There's no reason we can't be one of the best offenses in the league – if not the best offense, honestly."

The morning drills offered another opportunity for McCarthy and his coaches to evaluate the battle for the No. 2 quarterback spot between Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm. Flynn and Brohm zipped passes with authority to the sidelines and over the middle, and Flynn showed quickness in scrambling out of the pocket and throwing on the run.

"They're clearly way ahead of where they were a year ago, just from an experience standpoint and understanding as far as the huddle command, getting in and out of the plays properly, in a timely fashion," said McCarthy. "They're playing a lot faster. That's a normal progression for a young quarterback. Both Matt and Brian are clearly further ahead today than they were a year ago. That's to be expected. I think it's a good young tandem that has a very bright future, both of those guys."

Brohm, who remains No. 3 on the depth chart, seemed to be in much better command than he was last year as he struggled to learn the playbook.

"I think it's just the repetitions, getting to go through quarterback school, getting through OTA's and minicamp," Brohm responded when asked to compare his progress from last year at this time. "I feel much more comfortable with the offense and with my role as a quarterback out there and with what I need to do. I'm much more comfortable and relaxed out there."

"I don't think there's any question about the strides taken by Brian and I," added Flynn, who looked comfortable in handling the blitz, going 2-for-2. "What a difference a year makes. We've had extra time to be in the playbook and be more comfortable with it. When you're sitting there like we were last year, worried about everything that you have to do, you can't worry about what the defense is doing. This year I'm a lot more comfortable, not thinking about where everyone's lined up, where the formation is, what's the snap count, what's the play. It's kind of second nature to me now."

Raji remains unsigned

OK, now for the empty half of the glass. There's still no word on how long it will take for the Packers to reach a contract agreement with top draft choice B.J. Raji. Number 90 was a no-show for both of Sunday's practices and, if McCarthy is getting irritated or concerned, he did his best to hide it.

"It's the same as it was yesterday from my viewpoint," McCarthy said after the morning practice. "You never want any player, particularly young players, missing time. Training camp is here for a reason. It's an opportunity to break things down and spend the extra time on the individual. It's important for B.J. to be here, but this is a business situation, and we'll work our way through it."

The Packers are also no closer to answering who will be their punter this season. After watching Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks alternate between boomers and end-over-end clunkers, McCarthy called their punting display: "Not very good. I thought the punting was inconsistent and that's something we need to continue to work on."

Extra points and evening updates

— Linebacker Nick Barnett observed practice once again but remains on the PUP list. There's no exact timetable for returning him to the practice field as he continues to rehab his knee. Also on PUP is rookie linebacker Brad Jones.

— Others observing practice while nursing injuries included defensive end Cullen Jenkins, left tackle Chad Clifton, center Scott Wells and safety Atari Bigby. All four, who are coming off of offseason surgeries, practiced on Sunday night.

— Safety Jarrett Bush, who landed awkwardly and exited during the morning practice, has an abdominal strain, McCarthy said after the night practice.

— Defensive end Johnny Jolly was looked at by trainers and hobbled off the field after "he get rolled up" during a short-yardage drill during the night practice, McCarthy said. He called it an ankle sprain.

— Nose tackle Ryan Pickett got the evening practice off. McCarthy said he was being smart with a veteran player. Outside linebacker Jeremy Thompson and defensive end Justin Harrell were battling cramps late in the evening practice. McCarthy wasn't surprised, calling it a "monster day" with this being the first two-a-day session.


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