Two-a-days are gone and full contact has been greatly decreased, but injuries are occurring at an alarming rate, no more so than in the training camp of the Green Bay Packers. So it was with a sigh of relief that Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy began Sunday's post-practice press conference with these words: "I have no new injuries to report."
Less than 24 hours earlier, McCarthy's post-practice press conference was an injury update. The news on Desmond Bishop, Davon House and James Starks ranged from major to moderate concern, and then there was a long list of players missing practice with an assortment of aches and pains.
Aren't the new CBA rules regarding a reduction in the practice regimen supposed to reduce injuries?
"I don't know what's going on. I've never seen anything like it. I've never seen numbers like this before. You have targets to hit and this is not what you're looking for. This is a very difficult week. We've got a lot of guys that are beat up," McCarthy said.
Left tackle is a position of focus this week, after having been a problem position in last Thursday's loss to the Chargers in the preseason opener. Starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse missed the game due to a concussion, and Newhouse was still on the sidelines on Sunday.
Rookie seventh-round draft pick Andrew Datko and journeymen veterans Reggie Wells and Herb Taylor manned the position on Sunday, with Datko getting the bulk of the work with the first-team unit. Datko struggled at right tackle against rookie defensive end Kendall Reyes on Thursday, but seemed to improve as the game wore on.
"He's getting better. That's the normal path of a young offensive lineman," McCarthy said of Datko. "There's a different speed in practice, there's a different speed in scrimmage, and there's a whole different speed when you get to the games."
The good news is that Newhouse might be close to returning to action.
"Hopefully, Marshall will be back soon. I think he may be back tomorrow or the next day," McCarthy said.
The Packers host the Browns on Thursday in the Packers' preseason home opener.
Sunday's practice was one hour and 45 minutes long. Rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (knee) returned to practice, as did second-year tight end Ryan Taylor (concussion).
Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward (pictured) was in the starting secondary with cornerback Tramon Williams and safeties Charles Woodson and Morgan Burnett. D.J. Smith joined A.J. Hawk at one of the two inside linebacker positions. Smith has replaced Bishop and it's hoped Hayward can buy time for House to recover from the shoulder injury he sustained in San Diego.
Hayward made one of the highlight plays in Sunday's practice, reading a sideline route perfectly and then breaking on the ball. It would've been a pick-six, had Hayward made the interception.
The Packers' practice regimen has shifted gears into the preparation mode, but McCarthy said "we're not necessarily working on Cleveland; we're working on future opponents. I've been very pleased with last night's work and today's work.
"We've always tried to work in the division opponents, and take two or three days in training camp and lock into that. I think it challenges (the players) mentally to shift gears," McCarthy said.
The injuries are likewise challenging McCarthy to shift gears. Related links