Last year, the night practice before the first day off of training camp led to several fights, including one with a helmet-swinging lineman. On Tuesday night, with the first day off of camp coming up, a chippy practice evolved into something that, to put it gently, was spirited.
"Spirited practice, I'd agree with that," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Things started to simmer during a tight ends vs. outside linebackers blocking drill. Jermichael Finley blocked Clay Matthews to the turf, then gave him an extra shove. In a rematch, Finley's helmet popped off. Then Donald Lee blocked Cyril Obiozor to the whistle — and kept blocking and kept blocking.
Tensions then increased during 11-on-11. Finley caught a pass and was tackled high by Desmond Bishop, who tore Finley's helmet off. Finley didn't retaliate, though he used a couple of expletives to voice his displeasure. A few plays later, Finley took out those frustrations by leveling Obiozor with a crack-back block.
A little later, the first fight broke out. It included numerous players, including veterans Brady Poppinga and Cullen Jenkins, first-year defensive end Ronald Talley and undrafted rookie lineman Nick McDonald. Later, far away from the ball, Bishop, first-round pick Bryan Bulaga and a defensive lineman were part of a fracas. The horn blew, and McCarthy brought the team together to chew them out and calm them down.
"Oh, I'm fine with it," McCarthy said. "It almost looks like it's on the schedule, because I think it happened about this time last year. I don't mind it, but when it takes over the structure of what we're trying to get done, then it's an issue. But it happens. They're tired of hitting each other. You're at that point in training camp, and I get that. You always want to be on the edge of being physical and so that's what we're all about, but when it gets to be disruptive where you can't get your work done, then it's an issue."
Starting left guard Daryn Colledge sustained a hyperextended elbow and missed the night practice. Safety Will Blackmon (knee) and linebacker Nick Barnett (knee) are on one-a-day schedules and sat out the evening practice, too. Also out: guard/tackle Marshall Newhouse (concussion), receiver Jeff Moturi (knee sprain, which will sideline him for a couple weeks) and receiver Greg Jennings (personal).
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Bigby left Green Bay for tests on his ankle. McCarthy had not been given an update.
Defensive end Justin Harrell was held out because of the heat. He missed most of Monday's practice but participated in Tuesday morning's "shells" practice. For what it's worth, McCarthy said Harrell wanted to practice.
It's good ... almost
Mason Crosby made all six field goal attempts, ranging from 28 to 45 yards, during a field-goal drill at the night practice. Punter Tim Masthay, who was the holder when Crosby went 0-for-2 on Monday, was the holder again.
However, with the offense needing a field goal "to win" during a two-minute drill, Crosby misfired from 39 yards. Given a mulligan, Crosby made the do-over, though there was no rush.
For camp, he is 13-of-19.
"I'm excited about Mason and the things he's done individually," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said after the morning practice. "Our field-goal process right now is in its building stages, and we're working with two holders and actually have a third so that's the process we're building on right now and we'll keep moving forward and expect it to be efficient and where it needs to be as we start playing games."
Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn led the offense to touchdowns during a seven-on-seven two-minute drill. Rodgers' big completions covered 21 yards to Finley, 16 yards to Brett Swain on a perfect back-shoulder throw against Brandon Underwood, and 6 yards for the touchdown on Donald Lee. Bishop was in coverage on the completions to Finley and Lee.
The offense didn't fare as well in the 11-on-11 version of the two-minute drill. Needing a touchdown while starting from the 35 with 1:31 and two timeouts, Rodgers and Co. failed to get a first down because of superb coverage by Underwood and Morgan Burnett on the final two plays. The No. 2 offense needed only a field goal and easily got into range, thanks in part to a 21-yard catch-and-run by Charles Dillon, but Crosby missed.
"It's really not about wins and losses," McCarthy said. "You're looking for execution, the new wrinkles that you've been working on all spring, that's what it's all about. So I think it's very quality work. To go against our defense, for the multiplicity that they give people down there and then also what we do formation-wise, it's very good work."
Masthay bombs away
Tuesday morning's practice was uneventful, with the players wearing "shells" rather than full pads. Masthay averaged 54.8 yards on five punts. His first punt was the best of anyone in camp, a 67-yard bomb, with the line of scrimmage at the 35 and the ball sailing into the end zone on the fly. Chris Bryan, who continues to get the first rep, averaged 43.8 yards on five punts.
— Former general manager Ron Wolf was a guest of current GM Ted Thompson.
— There is no practice on Wednesday. On Thursday, they're set for 8:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. On Friday, practice is at 2 p.m. All three are full pads. Saturday is Family Night.
— Special-teams periods have focused entirely on punting (and punt returns) and field goals. There has not been a live kickoff or kickoff return period yet. Slocum did work on the one-on-one battles that are part of kickoffs and returns. Showing he's the front-runner to be the fifth receiver, Swain is on the No. 1 unit.
— Lee scored three touchdowns during a red zone period.
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