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Family Night Notebook: Hodge Shines For The Defense


Rookie linebacker Abdul Hodge, working as the backup to Nick Barnett in the middle, showed a real nose for the ball by leading the defense with nine total tackles on Saturday night.

Hodge has established himself early in camp as a big hitter, and Saturday night he showed the fundamentals to be in the right position as well. He had five solo stops and four assists.

"(Number) 55 was in there a bunch," McCarthy said. "He's definitely a force in the run game. He played well tonight from what I saw. He definitely flashed."

Hodge made one noticeable mistake, getting flagged for 15 yards for a horse-collar tackle on Samkon Gado, but otherwise his rapid development could force the coaching staff to find a place for him on the field.

"That's one of my goals, to establish myself as a starter, no matter where they put me," Hodge said.

Picking up steam

The No. 1 offense failed to get a first down on its first two possessions but began clicking after that.

On his third drive, Brett Favre directed a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march, capping it with a third-down touchdown pass to Donald Driver on a 4-yard slant. The big play was a 48-yard connection with Driver, who made a diving catch in between Tyrone Culver and Ahmad Carroll.

Then, during the 2-minute drill, Favre led an eight-play, 75-yard drive, with Gado scoring from 10 yards out on a well-executed zone-blocking run with 33 seconds left.

The key plays were a 27-yard catch-and-run by Greg Jennings on a slant route, and a 13-yard pass to Donald Lee to convert a third-and-9, one play before Gado's TD run.

Favre then hit Jennings for the 2-point conversion.

Injury scare

Safety Nick Collins appeared to be OK after a scary collision. On a deep ball to Boerigter down the sideline that fell incomplete, Collins had trouble stopping after going out of bounds, slipped down and collided with a non-padded portion of wall at the front row of the stands.

Collins was briefly looked at by the training staff and jogged off the field under his own power. The injury was to his back, and he did not return.

Celebration penalty

The NFL has notified teams it will be cracking down on non-spontaneous end zone celebrations, and there was a perfect example of it Saturday night.

On the touchdown pass to Driver, Rod Gardner and Greg Jennings followed Driver into the stands with Lambeau Leaps and were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. A Lambeau Leap by an individual player is not a penalty on its own, but it will be flagged if it becomes a group celebration.

Kicking competitions continue

Each kicker and punter took two attempts apiece without live tackling on the returns.

Kicker Billy Cundiff drilled his first kickoff 1 yard deep in the end zone, and his second went 2 yards deep. Dave Rayner hit a very low but deep line drive on his first attempt that landed 8 yards deep in the end zone and bounced through. His second attempt sailed higher and came down on the 3-yard line.

Punter Jon Ryan's two boots went 44 and 61 yards, with the latter a low line drive that Jennings returned about 40 yards before Ryan stepped in his way to make the "tackle."

B.J. Sander's two punts went 40 and 38 yards with good hang time and no returns.

The scrimmage concluded with Cundiff and Rayner each attempting five field goals, and both went 3-for-5 with all misses coincidentally going wide left. Cundiff was good from 29, 34 and 49 yards but missed from 39 and 52 yards. Rayner was good from 29, 34 and 52 yards but missed from 39 and 49 yards.

"Both of those races, we're going to take the whole preseason and let those work themselves out," McCarthy said. "In my view, those are good problems to have."

Big play, but not quite

The biggest play made by the No. 3 offense came when quarterback Brian Wrobel hit rookie receiver Cory Rodgers short over the middle and Rodgers broke free for a 64-yard gain.

But Rodgers was caught from behind and didn't make it to the end zone, something his fellow receivers won't let him forget.

"I told Cory the next time he gets caught from behind I'm going to beat him up, or we're going to do something to him as a group," Driver said. "But he knows now the next time he catches that ball down the middle of the field, he takes it to the house."

Most visible section

Section 125 was filled with nearly 1,000 fans wearing safety green shirts, representing Special Olympics in Wisconsin.

The Packers invited representatives from Special Olympics organizations all around the state to attend Family Night as guests, and their bright green shirts made them the most noticeable group in attendance.

Injury report

The following players were scratched from the scrimmage due to injury: receiver Leo Bookman (ankle); safety Marquand Manuel (calf); cornerbacks Will Blackmon (foot), Patrick Dendy (ankle), Mike Hawkins (knee) and Charles Woodson (hip); running backs Ahman Green (quad), Arliss Beach (concussion) and Najeh Davenport (ankle); linebackers Brady Poppinga (knee) and Byron Santiago (back); offensive tackle Chad Clifton (knee); guard William Whitticker (hamstring); and tight end Bubba Franks (knee).

Receiver Robert Ferguson missed the scrimmage for personal reasons. McCarthy said it was a family matter.

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