The Packer Report: Following the Trends

Who is trending upward and who is trending downward? We have the answers you need to know after training camp practices Nos. 18 and 19 on Thursday.

Packer Report follows the trends after the 18th and 19th practices of training camp.

Trending upward

Mason Crosby hit 8-of-8 field goals on Thursday night, and outside of misses from 55 and 60 yards against Cleveland, he hasn't missed in a week. And for good measure, on a fake field goal, he had a block that allowed Matt Flynn to complete the pass to Spencer Havner.

— Outside linebacker Brady Poppinga is putting a firm grip on the right outside linebacker position, with Clay Matthews III and Jeremy Thompson missing practice after practice. On Thursday night, Poppinga burst between center and guard for an easy sack, then got downfield in coverage to break up a pass to JaRon Harris.

— Sometimes, you don't realize Matt Flynn is playing this efficiently until you look at your notes. During a red-zone period, Flynn completed 4-of-5 passes, including touchdowns to Kole Heckendorf, Spencer Havner and Ruvell Martin. In a two-minute drill, he led the offense to a touchdown even while completing 5-of-11 passes and facing constant pressure from his blind side.

— He really couldn't do much other than go up, but inside linebacker A.J. Hawk seems to be improving this week. He once again was a strong presence in the run game, and for the second consecutive day, he broke up a pass in coverage. On Thursday night, he ran step for step with tight end Devin Frischknecht to break up a pass down the seam. He also had a strong blitz in the morning practice.

— After sitting out the morning practice with an injured groin, Smith was back and continued his bid to unseat Atari Bigby at safety. He almost intercepted a pass to Brett Swain — he would have against most quarterbacks, but Aaron Rodgers' laser got there a heartbeat before Smith. Moments later, though, Smith made a great break to pick off Brian Brohm.

— Maybe we should hold off in taking the starter's tag off of right tackle Allen Barbre. In an abbreviated one-on-one pass rushing drill, Barbre earned decisive wins over Stryker Sulak and Johnny Jolly. He also had a good night in team drills after getting beat a couple times by Sulak on Tuesday night.

Tramon Williams is a playmaker. The morning practice ended with him blitzing for one sack and almost getting another. In the night practice, he jarred a ball loose from Ruvell Martin in the end zone and had another good blitz.

Trending sideways

— You've got to hand it to Spencer Havner. In the morning practice, he was on defense as an outside linebacker. In the night practice, he caught a couple of touchdown passes. One black mark, however, was a false start.

— Rookie fourth-round pick T.J. Lang has showed good enough feet that he was given a look at left tackle on the scout team. That look didn't last long, though. He was flagged for a false start and removed from the lineup. He also was fined $7,500 for a below-the-knees clip in the Cleveland game.

— Some players excel when things aren't 100 percent live. It seems like Brett Swain is that kind of player. After a superb offseason, Swain was expected to challenge Ruvell Martin as the sixth receiver. That challenge has fizzled, because Swain was mostly invisible during live periods early in camp. With the tenor of camp toned down, Swain has emerged again. On Thursday night, he caught two passes in a third-down drill and had receptions of 19 yards and 6 yards (for an apparent touchdown) in the two-minute drill.

Trending downward

— As a run defender and ballhawk in the secondary, Atari Bigby is a difference-maker at safety. But it remains to be seen if he fits in this scheme. The coaches say all the right things, but Bigby is regularly late in coverage. During a one-on-one session at the night practice, he was embarrassed by tight end Jermichael Finley. Bigby was playing about 3 yards off Finley, and by the time Finley had taken three steps, he was past Bigby for an easy completion on a post pattern. Later, in 11-on-11, Bigby dropped an easy interception.

— Last year at this time, Kregg Lumpkin was one of the major stories at training camp. This year, he's fallen behind Tyrell Sutton and is last in the halfback pecking order. On Thursday night, he dropped a swing pass in seven-on-seven.

— When Tory Humphrey went down with a broken arm, the door was open for big and athletic Evan Moore to make a move at tight end. That hasn't happened, though. A broken finger isn't helping. In a Hail Mary drill on Thursday morning, he had an uncontested catch in the end zone but dropped it.

— If you're Jeremy Thompson, and you were battling with a first-round pick (Clay Matthews III) and now have a veteran (Brady Poppinga) playing well, aren't you begging and pleading to be let back on the field?

Play of the day

Given ample time with Tony Moll's gritty block against hard-charging Cyril Obiozor, Brian Brohm fired deep down the sideline. But there was safety Anthony Smith to make a leaping interception. Behind the play, Moll and Obiozor continued going at it. It wasn't a highlight-reel play but it was a feast for the eyes. Athleticism at safety, guts at left tackle and untapped potential at linebacker.

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 and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories