Play On Words
Friday's "Family Night" scrimmage had an appropriate title for Packers linebacker Roy Manning. His parents traveled in from Saginaw, Mich. to watch him play in front of a game-like atmosphere at Lambeau Field.
Despite Manning's status as an undrafted free agent, his parents saw a lot of their son on the field. Throughout camp, the former University of Michigan player has consistently run with the second team as middle linebacker Nick Barnett's back up.
The Packers' coaching staff likes the 245-pounder's combination of size and speed.
"He's doing a nice job," head coach Mike Sherman said. "He has a lot to learn."
With linebackers Hannibal Navies (knee), Na'il Diggs (ankle), Kurt Campbell (knee) Brady Poppinga (hamstring) not playing in the morning practice, Manning saw action on the first team.
He has quickly mastered the transition from an outside linebacker in college to NFL middle linebacker. But the coaching staff wants him to improve his gap control in the running game.
"The biggest thing I need to work on is my run fits and reading plays faster," Manning said.
Honing his skills is nothing new for Manning. He earned the Roger Zatkoff Award for best linebacker at Michigan during his senior year, his first year as a starter.
"I've improved a lot in the last two years," he said.
Bills Quarterback Relishes Chance To Meet Favre
Any rocket-armed quarterback with a gunslinging style that played his college ball in the Bayou would have a natural idol.
"I went against my favorite ever, Brett Favre," said Bills quarterback J.P. Losman, who attended Tulane University in New Orleans.
Losman received that opportunity on Friday night. After the scrimmage, Favre wished him luck and complimented him on his performance. The second-year quarterback completed 6-of-11 passes for 69 yards.
Losman hopes to get together with the Favre during the Bills-Packers preseason game on Aug. 20, but not to play golf, one of Favre's favorite recreational activities.
"My golf's game struggling right now," Losman said.
Cheeseland Differs From The Desert
Perhaps no one appreciated the experience of having 62,492 fans watch a scrimmage than Packers linebacker Ray Thompson, who signed in the offseason as a free agent.
"Green Bay has just about the best fans in the NFL," he said. "That was a big reason why I chose to come here."
Thompson played his five previous seasons with the Arizona Cardinals where their regular season games often drew half of what Green Bay welcomes for a scrimmage.
"It's a different atmosphere," he said.
He does remember one game playing in front of a particularly raucous crowd in Arizona's Sun Devil Stadium. Naturally, it occurred when the Packers visited.
"It was an away game at home," he said. "I've never seen anything like that."
Quick Hits: When asked for his impressions about the Packers, Bills General Manager Tom Donahoe praised Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Donahoe said: "He seems like he's got good talent, and it seemed like he knows where to go with the ball." ... Defensive tackle Colin Cole showed solid interior pass rushing skills. "He's in the mix," Sherman said. "He's very stout, very strong."