The Packer Report: Following the Trends

Who is trending upward and who is trending downward? We have the answers you need to know after the defense dominated the sixth practice of training camp.

Packer Report follows the training camp trends in this daily feature.

Trending upward

The defense was so good, we'll double dip by position group:

— Defensive ends Cullen Jenkins and Justin Harrell have been fantastic. Jenkins is flat-out unblockable. He's had his way with whoever's been thrown in front of him through camp. On Tuesday, it was rookie T.J. Lang, whose first day at left guard was a trial by fire. Jenkins spends so much time in the backfield, he might as wear the offense's white jersey. When he actually was stopped on a passing play at the start of a 2-minute drill, he deflected the pass and almost made the interception. While the Packers await first-round pick B.J. Raji, the man who is filling his spot in the lineup is doing quite nicely. Harrell, who to this point has been a first-round bust, has proven to be a formidable opponent on running plays. And he's healthy.

— Defensive back Aaron Rouse had a productive night and cornerback Al Harris remains an ageless wonder. Rouse recovered Kregg Lumpkin's fumble, forced Tyrell Sutton's fumble and flattened 255-pound fullback Quinn Johnson on the rookie's goal-line run. About the only knock on Rouse was his trash-talking to Evan Dietrich-Smith after the undrafted rookie lineman latched onto Rouse at about the 5-yard line and drove him 10 yards before dumping him onto the turf. Harris ran stride-for-stride with Jordy Nelson before breaking up a long pass by Aaron Rodgers. So far, his transition to more of a zone defender has gone smoothly.

— Outside linebackers Aaron Kampman and Clay Matthews III fired up their position coach, Kevin Greene, during the night practice. During a one-on-one blocking drill, Kampman latched onto tight end Donald Lee and threw him aside like a sack of potatoes. During that same drill, Matthews destroyed tight end Devin Frischknecht. Kampman has been a beast on running plays throughout camp, whether the ball is run at him or away from him or they try to trick him with an end-around. Matthews' tenacity and athleticism make it only a matter of time before he wins the job opposite Kampman.

Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver were two of the bright spots on offense. During the aforementioned run-blocking drill, Finley pancaked Brady Poppinga. Later, he burned Kampman for a big gain on a seam route. Finley's receiving abilities are obvious, and his blocking is greatly improved. The ageless Driver continues to entertain the fans. He turned a short gain into a long touchdown by juking Charles Woodson.

Trending sideways

Jeremy Thompson's potential is obvious, but at times last season, the coaches questioned his passion. That still seems to be a question. Greene got on Thompson after he got beat during a run-blocking drill. Later, though, Thompson had a sack and alertly deflected a pass in the flat to Greg Jennings.

— With Brandon Jackson out, Tyrell Sutton made several impressive plays in his increased snaps — including following Dietrich-Smith on his pancake of Rouse and showing his hands and open-field skills on a few receptions. The 5-foot-8 rookie even showed his power by dragging Michael Montgomery on a running play, but he fumbled at the end of the run.

— You've got to hand it to rookie T.J. Lang for having the mental aptitude to play three positions so early in his career. But it was a tough night for the fourth-round pick, who had to endure a vintage performance by Jenkins. He did have his moments though, such as stopping Jenkins one-on-one on the aforementioned long incompletion to Nelson with Harris in coverage.

Ruvell Martin made a superior catch on a jump ball from Rodgers against Harris in the end zone during a red zone drill. But on fourth-and-2 on the practice-ending 2-minute drill, Martin dropped a pass in the end zone.

Trending downward

— Quinn Johnson was supposed to be the linebacker-destroying fullback the Packers haven't had in years. And he might be that guy someday, but he's not today. He's just too tentative on running plays and at least once went the wrong way at the snap. Compounding things, he was hammered at the goal-line by Aaron Rouse on a running play and he fell face-first when running through the gauntlet during the ball-security drill.

Allen Barbre handled Kampman for most of the offseason, but this is training camp, and things have changed. Barbre's not being embarrassed by a long shot, but Kampman's productivity means Barbre isn't doing his job consistently enough. The door is definitely open for Mark Tauscher.

— Really, the entire offense has been outplayed by the defense. It's probably not surprising, considering the sheer volume of blitzes being thrown at the offense every day. On Tuesday night, the defense won every segment of practice, from goal line to red zone. The quarterbacks don't have any time — on one play, both outside linebackers came in untouched at Matt Flynn — and the running backs have nowhere to run. Rodgers threw another interception, and the touted receiving corps continues to drop passes. With more than 20 training camp practices remaining, it's not time to panic. It will help when an offensive line is picked. Right now, left tackle Chad Clifton is getting one practice off during two-a-days, left guard Daryn Colledge is injured, there's a battle at center and they're breaking in new starters at right guard and right tackle. Still, the offense needs to tighten up its play.

Play of the day

One moment, Nick Collins gambled and lost. Aaron Rodgers threw a laser over the middle to Donald Driver. Collins went for the interception but didn't get there in time, and Driver was off to the races. Moments later, Rodgers tried to hit Jordy Nelson over the middle, only for Collins to race in at full speed for an interception.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


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. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


Packer Report Top Stories