Family Night: Backup Receivers Share The Wealth

Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers said before the Family Night scrimmage that he was looking forward to working with all the reserve receivers to see what they could do. On his three regular drives, Rodgers completed seven passes, and six of them went to different targets. - More | ’Family Night’ Photos Audio | Video |


Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers said before the Family Night scrimmage that he was looking forward to working with all the reserve receivers to see what they could do.

Rodgers certainly tried to connect with as many as he could.

On his three regular drives, Rodgers completed seven passes, and six of them went to different targets. James Jones was the only one to catch two passes during that portion, and Rodgers also completed throws to fullback Korey Hall, Carlyle Holiday, Robert Ferguson, Ruvell Martin and tight end Zac Alcorn.

Rodgers said some of his completions came from checks at the line of scrimmage, where a run play is called but he can check to a slant pass if the original play is running into the wrong part of the defense.

"It's just a matter of getting us in the right play situation," Rodgers said. "The great thing about Coach McCarthy's offense is the quarterback can put the offense in the best play scenario every time, and I tried to do that tonight."

Rodgers' third drive, on which he was 5-for-5 passing for 63 yards, ended in a 23-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

During his two-minute drive, he added a seventh receiver to his roster, hitting running back Brandon Jackson, who was wide open in the flat and gained 23 yards. Rodgers finished his night 12-for-22 for 134 yards.

"For me, I want to take what the defense gives me," Rodgers said. "If that means checking the ball down to Korey Hall or whoever, I just want to try to pass at a high percentage. My percentage wasn't as high as I'd like it to be tonight, because we had some calls we didn't execute and also some tipped passes. But I thought for the most part I played within myself and didn't force anything."

Until the end of that two-minute drive, when a pair of penalties put the offense in desperation mode, and Rodgers' final pass was intercepted by Tramon Williams. Rodgers was trying to hit Martin on a pop fly to the end zone, but Rodgers was trying to throw an intentionally short jump ball, while Martin was looking for a longer throw over his back shoulder, and the two couldn't connect.

Of all the receivers working with the backup units, Holiday had the biggest night, with five catches for 55 yards.

"I think some young guys really showed themselves," Rodgers said. "It's going to be a long preseason. We've got four games left. We really need those young guys to step up and separate themselves."

Back in the running

The somewhat forgotten man in the battle for the No. 3 cornerback spot during the first week of camp has been second-year pro Will Blackmon, but the 2006 fourth-round draft pick had his best showing of the summer during the scrimmage.

Blackmon was credited with three tackles, one pass broken up and one interception. He picked off a swing pass into the flat that he would have easily returned for a touchdown had he not tripped and fallen on his own. He still got up and kept running before anyone touched him.

Blackmon also had another interception that was nullified by an illegal contact penalty away from the throw, and during the No. 1 offense's two-minute drive, he punched the ball out of Donald Driver's hands after a reception, though Driver recovered his own fumble. Blackmon thought it should have been ruled incomplete.

"It's real tight," Blackmon said of the fight for the nickel job with Patrick Dendy, Jarrett Bush and Frank Walker. "I'm playing as if it's going to go down to the wire. Even if I had a good game this week, I need to have a better one next week and a better one after that. I want the best out of them too, to help me improve."

All the reserve cornerbacks got extra playing time because starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson did not play. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said it was a combination of resting the veterans' bodies a little, and getting more extended looks at all the other corners.

Doing everything he can

The coaching staff knows Shaun Bodiford has some big-time return ability, and he showed it again in the scrimmage with a 30-yard punt return. He also had a kickoff return across midfield that was brought back on a penalty.

But Bodiford first has to make the roster as a receiver, and he showed up in the passing game with two receptions for 32 yards. His biggest play was a 25-yard gain on a slant pass from Paul Thompson. Earlier, he caught a 7-yard slant that he reached to grab as Walker took his legs out from under him, but Bodiford hung on.

"Marviel Underwood calls me the acrobat man," Bodiford said. "I'm always jumping and making tough grabs for no reason.

"I just want to climb up the receiver ladder. On special teams, I'm pretty much in the mix. But at receiver, we've got some great receivers and I'm a young guy so I have to prove myself."

{sportsad300}Hit of the night

Players weren't allowed to hit with full force in practice until Saturday night, and cornerback Tramon Williams made the biggest one.

During the No. 3 offense's two-minute drive, Williams blasted receiver Chris Francies as he was trying to make a catch on a crossing route from Ingle Martin. Francies, understandably, couldn't haul in the throw.

Earlier in the night, Williams also made a big play, intercepting Rodgers in the end zone at the end of the No. 2 offense's two-minute drive, on a deep pass intended for Ruvell Martin.

Kickoff return men

In practice thus far, the Packers have used as many as seven or eight different return men on kickoffs, but they gave a glimpse into who's highest on the depth chart at this point.

On the No. 1 kickoff return unit, Bodiford and DeShawn Wynn were the two deep men. On the second unit, it was David Clowney and P.J. Pope.

Clowney drew a big cheer from the crowd when he took his return the distance, but special teams did not include live tackling, and it appeared Clowney would have been hit between the 20 or 25-yard line, long before he broke into the clear.

Strong legs

Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby each got two kickoffs during the kickoff coverage and return portions, and both showed their strong legs.

Rayner's first kickoff went 3 yards deep in the end zone, and his second came down inside the 5. Both of Crosby's kickoffs went about 2 or 3 yards deep in the end zone.

During the closing field goal period, the two kickers each attempted a series of 11 kicks beginning at 25 yards out and going all the way back to 52. Rayner made 8-of-11, missing wide left from 36 and wide right on his final two attempts, both from 52 yards, after he had made two straight from 49 yards with plenty to spare. Crosby was 9-of-11, missing wide left from 38 and 49 yards, but making both of his from 52, also with plenty of room.

Injury update

Four players did not dress for the scrimmage. They were running back Vernand Morency (knee), tight end Clark Harris (ankle), tight end Bubba Franks (eye) and linebacker Rory Johnson (side).

During the scrimmage, Pope suffered a knee injury, fullback Brandon Miree had a stinger, and linebackers Abdul Hodge and Desmond Bishop both dislocated fingers. McCarthy didn't know the severity of any of the injuries.

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