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Family Night Notebook: Secondary Looks Sharp

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has talked about the defense being the starting point and common thread that will run through the team in 2008, and on Sunday night, several members of the secondary made an impact. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 3


CB Pat Lee defends WR Taj Smith

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has talked about the defense being the starting point and common thread that will run through the team in 2008, and on Sunday night, several members of the secondary made an impact.

Rookie cornerback Pat Lee led the team with four passes defensed, including a nice play to break up an Aaron Rodgers pass intended for Greg Jennings to stop the first-team offense on its second drive and force a three-and-out. Then he put the finishing touches on another drive when he broke up a pass by Rodgers to James Jones on fourth down.

"It was a good night," Lee said. "Everybody was working hard and making plays. Everybody was looking comfortable out there, so it was good. The coaches came up to me and said I did good, so it was a good feeling to do that in front of 56,000 (people)."

As it is with most rookies, Lee's day wasn't all positive as he was flagged for a 38-yard pass interference call on the first drive of the night on Donald Driver inside the 5-yard line that set up a Brandon Jackson touchdown run on the very next play. Lee said it was an example of a veteran getting the benefit of the doubt over a rookie.

"I think Donald dropped (to the ground) on purpose on that one," Lee said. "I had good lean on it and he just fell and the ref threw it. It was like Michael Jordan against Allen Iverson first coming in."

Cornerback Tramon Williams, who missed a good part of practice this week with a hip flexor injury, was back on the field and posted two pass breakups, both on third-down plays. The first came when he broke up a Rodgers pass intended for Driver and on the next drive he deflected a Brian Brohm pass thrown to rookie wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

"As a whole, I thought their production was outstanding," McCarthy said of the defense. "I really thought they flew to the ball. It looked to me, from not studying it, it looked like they did a good job with the bump at the line of scrimmage, disrupting the routes. I thought the defense had a very good night."

Safety Charlie Peprah made his presence felt with three tackles and a pass breakup, as well as one of the bigger hits of the night. On the second drive of the scrimmage, Rodgers rolled out to his right and tried to connect with wide receiver Ruvell Martin, but was drilled by Peprah after getting his hands on the ball.

Safety Aaron Rouse posted the lone takeaway of the night when he intercepted a desperation heave by Rodgers to the back of the end zone intended for Jennings as time ticked away in the two-minute drill.

Grant ready to go

One of the players in uniform but not in action on Sunday night was running back Ryan Grant, who signed a long-term contract with the Packers in the afternoon.

After missing the first week of practice, Grant said he is relieved to have the contract taken care of and anxious to hit the field.

"I am excited to get back," Grant said. "I'm happy about the contract, glad we got it done. The fact that I can just back on the field and be around the guys and really move forward to help this team win, I was excited about that."

Even though he has not been with the team since OTAs, Grant is confident that he is ready to go physically.

"I think I'm in football shape now," Grant said. "Of course you can't simulate playing in pads and everything like that, so I think that will take a little bit of time. I take real pride in the conditioning part of what I do and I think the training staff, they'll tell you what kind of shape I came in."

With Grant on the sideline, Brandon Jackson worked with the first unit and posted 28 yards and a TD on five carries and Vernand Morency posted a 29-yard run on his lone carry of the evening.

{sportsad300}Getting a return

One area that impressed on Sunday night was the punt return game for the Packers.

Rookie wide receiver Brett Swain was credited with two returns for 80 yards, including a 66-yarder.

He wasn't the only player to post a big play during the special teams work, with cornerback Will Blackmon recording a 56-yard return.

Nelson returned the other punt of the evening for 17 yards.

Punter Jon Ryan averaged 54.8 yards on his four punts.

Injury/participation update

In addition to Grant, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris were healthy scratches and were not in action. The starting tandem sat out last year's scrimmage as well.

Cornerbacks Jarrett Bush and Blackmon were the starting cornerbacks in the Packers base defense on Sunday night with Williams staying in his nickel role.

Other players who did not suit up due to injury were defensive tackles Justin Harrell (back) and Ryan Pickett (knee), running back DeShawn Wynn (concussion), cornerback Condrew Allen (knee), center Scott Wells (trunk) and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee).

In what McCarthy called the biggest statistic of the evening, there were no injuries reported from Sunday night's scrimmage.

Sticking around

Despite the scrimmage being delayed by rain and lightning, attendance on Sunday night was 56,600.

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