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Notebook: Moll Makes the Most of Opportunity


Because it's all happened so fast for Tony Moll, you almost couldn't blame the rookie offensive lineman if he would have had trouble stepping into the Packers starting lineup on Saturday night.

However, as it turns out, the 6-5, 308-pound guard appeared to hold his own in his first start as a professional.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he would reserve judgment on Moll and the rest of the offensive line until he viewed the game film, but he stressed that the proper mindset has to be established first and foremost.

"Number one, it's a style of play," McCarthy said. "You have to play this game a certain way week in and week out. It looked to me from the sideline that we accomplished that. And we'll confirm that from the film study.

I think we definitely moved in the right direction. That's where it all starts. It all starts up front."

For now, Moll who played tight end in college until his senior season before moving to tackle, said it's all about taking advantage of his promotion to the first team, regardless of how long he stays there.

"Right now they are just trying to find the five guys that can make it happen," he said.

"Either way, you just have to look at this as something positive. Hopefully I showed this team that I should stick around after the last preseason game. That's all I'm looking forward to."

Early indications are that Moll played well and if the film confirms that, perhaps the Packers found their starting right guard. When asked what he would say to all those who had concerns about the offensive line, Moll could only smile.

"Don't be worried," he said. "It's only the beginning of great times."

Rayner Kicking His Way to Packers Roster?

Much like Tony Moll, another player who took a step forward in Saturday's exhibition game was kicker Dave Rayner.

With the recent exodus of Billy Cundiff, Rayner must now prove he's the man for the job and without question he passed the first test. The second-year player out of Michigan State connected on his only field-goal attempt of the night, a 30-yarder in the second quarter. He also added five extra points, but perhaps his most impressive accomplishment wasn't something that shows up in a box score, and that's the distance of his kickoffs.

Though he only notched one touchback for the evening, six of Rayner's seven kicks were sent to the end zone, which allowed the coverage units time to get down the field and make a play on the returner.

It was this type of leg strength that endeared Rayner to the Packers in the first place and McCarthy admitted he likes what he sees so far in his young kicker.

"He had an opportunity tonight and it looked like he took full advantage of it," McCarthy said. "He's a young guy, he was given a great opportunity, and he performed. I know he feels good about it, and we feel good about it right now, too."

Jennings Continues to Catch On

It's no secret that Donald Driver is Brett Favre's favorite target, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Greg Jennings is a vital cog in the Packers engine, too.

The rookie wide receiver out of Central Michigan has earned his keep in training camp, flashing big play ability on a consistent basis and that production has transferred over to game action as well.

At 5'11, and 197 pounds, Jennings isn't huge by any means, but that hasn't stopped him from making the big play, however.

In the fourth quarter, he caught a quick slant from Aaron Rodgers and took it to the house for an 85-yard score, which gave the Packers a 31-10 lead. Though the game's outcome was already decided, it didn't matter to Jennings. According to him, it's his job to contribute in all facets of the game.

"I'm here to make this team better and help this team win, whether it's on special teams or it's on offense," Jennings explained. "But we have a great receiving corps, we have a great leader on our receiving corps with Driver, and we're supporting each other, helping each other get better."

And although the youngster is making plays and catching the limelight all at the same time, don't be confused. He knows the relationship that Favre and Driver have, as does the rest of the NFL. Jennings only wants to lessen the burden on those two, particularly the team's number one receiver.

"We know we have to take the pressure off him," he said. "We know he's (Driver) the marquee player right now and he's going to be. It's our job to take that pressure off him so him and Brett can do what they do. And we saw what they can do tonight. It's a beautiful sight to see when they do that."

Coming from someone who practices against him everyday, Charles Woodson also likes what he sees so far out of Jennings.

"I think he's coming along well," Woodson said. "In my eyes, I think he'll give us a big plus on that offensive side of the ball. He's a good young receiver, he knows the game. He's got good moves off the line of scrimmage and we're looking forward to him making some plays for us this year.

Some people are just natural at it. You don't have to tell him a whole lot, he's just one of those guys that goes out there and plays football."

McCarthy also likes what he sees out of 85 at this point.

"He's a young guy that's hit his stride kind of early and I don't think that's common in our league," McCarthy said. "We're very excited about Greg and he's done everything we asked. He's only getting better."

Reestablishment of Lambeau Mystique A Goal of McCarthy, Packers

This may be Mike McCarthy's first year as a head coach, but it's not his first season in Green Bay and he knows just how important it is to establish home field advantage. Especially when that home venue just happens to be Lambeau Field.

And though it may only have been a preseason game, McCarthy and his squad knew it wasn't too soon to regain the "Lambeau Mystique" on Saturday night.

"We refer to it as the Lambeau advantage," McCarthy said. "And that's something that we have to take full advantage of. In years prior, it was a big plus here. You didn't want to come in here and play. We need to establish that and that was one of our goals here tonight.

We wanted to get out there and play a physical football game, generate a home field advantage. And I think our players really took advantage of that. I was very pleased with our enthusiasm and the physicality we played with tonight. And obviously, our productivity was where it needed to be."

Without question, a 38-10 victory over a quality team such as the Falcons is a good start in regaining that advantage.

"It's important that we had a showing like that, especially trying to get that Lambeau advantage back and give our fans a good showing," linebacker Nick Barnett said.

"It was fun to go out there and win a game, especially at Lambeau."

Hopefully, Barnett and the rest of his teammates will utter that statement quite frequently throughout the season.

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