Packers fans will get their first game-type look at the team's new-look defense on Friday night. What might fans see at the Family Night scrimmage?
Hopefully, fans will see the first signs of a defense that'll rush the passer more vigorously in 2012. Overall improvement on defense would seem to begin with the pass rush.
"We're working on a lot of individual pass-rush drills. We've added some guys we think can give us some rush. These preseason games are going to be very important for us. It'll be interesting to see how they respond. I reserve judgment until I see the pads on, and I think in these preseason games guys will define themselves," Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.
Friday's scrimmage will cap the Packers' first full week of training camp and lead the team into its preseason, which begins next Thursday in San Diego. All eyes will be on the defense, which fell to No. 32 in the league last year.
The Packers' first six picks in this year's draft are on the defensive side of the ball. The team's top two picks, linebacker Nick Perry and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, address a critical need up front.
"We obviously thought a lot of him to pick him where we did in the draft," Capers said of Perry, who's flashed his pass-rush skill in training camp and allowed a move by Clay Matthews back to the right side, where Matthews played as a rookie in 2009.
"This kid has a very unique skill set," Outside Linebackers Coach Kevin Greene said of Perry. "He's got to learn how to be a true pro now. He has to become an astute student of the game now."
Meanwhile, Matthews seems to be enjoying his move back to the blind-side rush position. He was dominant in Wednesday's practice.
"Clay is starting to break off some of the rust and crust on the right side," Greene said.
Worthy has helped give the defense a new high-energy look, something veteran Charles Woodson said was missing last season. Others, including cornerback Tramon Williams, agree with Woodson's assessment.
"We have a lot of guys out there now that bring energy to the team," Williams said.
"I think Jerel is working hard to learn how to play the run the way we play the run. He had been a jump-the-count (player) in college," Capers said of Worthy.
The Packers secondary has produced a star player on a daily basis through the start of training camp. Williams and fellow cornerbacks Jarrett Bush, Davon House and rookie second-round pick Casey Hayward, and safety Morgan Burnett have all enjoyed standout practices.
"I'm not as much concerned with who's making plays as I am with who's not giving up plays," Cornerbacks Coach Joe Whitt said, referring to the need to eliminate the high number of big plays the Packers allowed last year.
Improved tackling is also a major focus in this training camp, and Whitt has introduced several tackling drills he believes will improve the secondary's tackling skills.
"They're drills I used to do every day in college. When I got to the NFL, they said these guys won't do it. They're going to make us play better," said Whitt, who vows that players who don't tackle won't play.
'I'm getting a feel now and to a man they're putting their nose in there. We're going to get the physicality where it needs to be."
The Packers will put all of that on display for fans to evaluate and enjoy on Friday at Lambeau Field. Related links