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Packers Complete OTAs, Look Forward To Time Off


"Ahhhh, blisters!!!" screamed cornerback Joey Thomas as he peeled a bandage from his foot.

Thomas' wounds were a by-product of the start-and-stop action and sprinting of two weeks of organized team activities, but he can now rest his weary feet for a bit as the Packers concluded OTAs with a balmy practice session Friday morning at Ray Nitschke Field.

Packers head coach Mike Sherman praised his team's effort, performance and toughness.

"I thought they worked hard. Were they perfect? No. But I think they have a perfect understanding of what's expected out of them," he said. "They're a fun group to coach. They're hard workers. We have a lot of chemistry on our team ... I feel good about letting them go."

Sherman did let them go after a demanding Thursday practice. Instead of doing conditioning work at the end, the players ran gassers - sprinting the width of the field down and back - at the start of practice. Sherman wanted to test their mental toughness and see if a tired team responded with loads of penalties, which they did not.

"It was rough. It was definitely a challenge, mentally," Thomas said. "In the fourth quarter (during the season), it's going to be the same way."

The offense faced other challenges. With Brett Favre not at the helm, the unit looked shaky at times but progressed during the course of the week. Sherman seemed pleased with their play, considering the complexities of the West Coast offense for young quarterbacks Craig Nall, J.T. O'Sullivan and Aaron Rodgers.

"You really have to coach our offense to understand the volume of information we threw at them. We cut them no slack whatsoever," Sherman said. "I thought they handled it well. I'd like to throw a touchdown pass on every single possession, but then we'd have other concerns on the other side. I thought they did okay, but there's still room for improvement."

As for the hotly contested position backing up Favre, Sherman named Nall his no. 2 quarterback.

"Craig's a great quarterback. He's been here for four years," Rodgers said. "I'm the No.4 right now ... I'm not going to be No. 1. So I'm going to contribute any way I can."

On the day, Nall completed several passes including a long throw to wide receiver Vince Butler out of a four-receiver set, a shoestring reception to wide receiver Donald Driver and a sideline toss to wide receiver Antonio Chatman.

Rodgers said he needs more repetitions before mastering the offense. He also said he will report to training camp, and his agent, Mike Sullivan, will have a contract in hand.

"I've got a great agent, and this is a very reasonable organization," Rodgers said. "Everything's going to work out. I'm not worried about that."

Rodgers will spend the next three weeks in Green Bay before heading to California to spend time with his family. However, he will continue studying the offense. At the University of California, the diligent Rodgers and head coach Jeff Tedford played checkers with blue and yellow game pieces representing the offense and defense.

"I'm going to study for hours every day," Rodgers said. "There is no vacation time in the NFL - especially for rookies."

Another competition entering training camp will involve the starting left cornerback spot opposite Al Harris. Thomas looks to bettle fellow second-year player, Ahmad Carroll once camp begins. Regardless of the winner, the secondary impressed through much of the June practices.

"I don't see how you can't think positive and have positive things to say," Thomas said. "I mean we're creating turnovers, and we still have a lot to learn."

During the special teams segment of practice, punter B.J. Sander, who returned from his stint in NFL Europe Monday night, made his debut. Sander punted several balls from the 45-yard line, working to pin the opposition near the end zone. Sherman complimented him on his ball placement, improved technique and confidence.

"He did a nice job with his (kicks). They turned over, had pretty good location, time and some distance," Sherman said. "He certainly didn't disappoint us today."

Sherman also introduced some trickery on the day for the first time during the OTAs. Running back Walt Williams tried a halfback pass to tight end Ben Steele, who made several nice grabs on the day.

"It was fun," said Williams, who played quarterback in an option offense at Brusly (La.) High School where he ran more than passed. "The more reps you take, the better you get. I just hope I get a couple more reps at practice."

Williams will return to Baton Rouge. Like several players he will take some much-needed time off and visit his family.

"I love it up here. I love Green Bay. I love the atmosphere," he said. "But my family's (in Louisiana). So it's good to be up here, but it's sweet to go home to my wife and my kids."

For more player/coach insight on Thursday's workout, check out the Audio section.

Today At A Glance ...

Where: Ray Nitschke Field (outdoors)

Weather: sunny and humid, 87 degrees

Did Not Practice: Craig Bragg, Nick Collins, Garrett Cross, Brennan Curtin, Robert Ferguson, Al Harris, Mike Hawkins, Jason Horton, Grady Jackson, Chris Johnson, James Lee, Mark Roman, Ray Thompson Corey Williams

Did Not Attend: Brett Favre, Bubba Franks, Cletidus Hunt, Javon Walker

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