Rookies get enough thrown at them during their first few weeks of workouts, and they really get tested on how quickly they can learn something when asked to run the two-minute drill in practice.
The two-minute drill was the focus of one of the team (11-on-11) periods in Thursday's OTA, one of several "situations" that are getting attention during the June workouts.
To the outside spectator, the two-minute drill can look like organized chaos, with players yelling and hustling back and forth without a huddle, the quarterback calling things out and motioning with his hands, and the defense trying to keep up.
To the players that have been in pro football for a while, it's almost second-nature. But not so for the new guys, to whom the pro game in general is much faster, not to mention a no-huddle or two-minute situation.
"Whew, ... man, man, man," rookie receiver James Jones said when discussing the two-minute drill after practice. "Learning the signals and all that is new for us right now. That's my main focus is learning the signals and learning the plays. Once I get that down, I can do all right."
Veteran receiver Donald Driver can appreciate the struggles, particularly when the younger players might execute one two-minute drill with Brett Favre and another one with a different, younger quarterback. Every signal caller runs the no-huddle a little differently, so changing quarterbacks only adds another layer of adjustment.
But Driver is confident everyone will be up to speed soon.
"It's hard because they don't know the signals all that well, but once they get the signals in, basically it's smooth sailing for them," Driver said. "The hard part is learning the game, learning the systems and the signals, and once you get that down, two-minute is pretty easy to you."
The defense, on the other hand, doesn't exactly enjoy getting run ragged like that, but it's good training nonetheless.
"That's not fun at all," cornerback Al Harris said. "That's tiring, like conditioning. But it was good today, we needed it, and we got some good work out of it."
Unfortunately, the two-minute drill with the No. 1 offense and defense hit a snag when the scoreboard clock in the Hutson Center went out. With the time kept on the sideline, it created some confusion and there was a mixup at the end on offense whether to try a field goal or go for the touchdown.
Arrivals and absences
Harris and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett were two veterans who joined their teammates for OTAs at the beginning of this week. Both resumed their starting spots with the No. 1 defense, and both indicated they plan to continue working out with the team next week as well.
Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (death in the family) and backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers (brother's graduation) were excused from practice. Tony Moll took Tauscher's right tackle spot with the No. 1 offense.
Rookie running back Brandon Jackson injured his knee earlier this week in practice, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he's hopeful Jackson will be back on the field next week.
Cornerback Will Blackmon sat out practice with an unspecified injury. That left Harris, Patrick Dendy and Frank Walker as the three cornerbacks in the nickel package.
Dendy had what should have been the defense's biggest play of the day, stepping in front of Carlyle Holiday on a crossing route on the first play of the two-minute drill. A bullet from Favre hit him right in the hands, but he couldn't hold on.
On occasion in the past, the defensive backs have paid into a money pool as punishment when they drop a sure interception, but Dendy said he didn't get in on that this year.
"Some of these guys are, but I'm not paying anybody no money," he said. "I'm not in the pot, but we're definitely still competing for the interceptions and big plays.
"Each time somebody makes a play, you want to make one, so we're just stepping up and competing with one another."
Feeling like he's ready
Safety Marviel Underwood, who is recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the preseason opener last year, has been held out of practices all spring. McCarthy said even though Underwood is ahead of schedule with his rehab, he'll likely be held out until training camp, but he's excited to see what a rested and recovered Underwood will be able to do when he returns to the field.
"He's having an excellent offseason, and it really started for him during the season (with rehab)," McCarthy said. "I think he's done a very good job taking advantage of the time with the other parts of his body."
Underwood hinted that he might be able to get into some of the OTA workouts before they conclude later this month, but he's simply going to listen to the trainers and be ready when he is cleared.
"When I go out there, I'm going full-out," Underwood said. "They haven't put any restrictions on me, so when I go out there, I'm going to try to hit it."