Unseasonably cool August temperatures continued to give the impression that the Packers should be gearing up for week eight of the regular season, but the Pack returned to Clarke Hinkle Field for two practices Wednesday, still five days out from the preseason opener against Seattle.
About 1,200 fans lined the fences of the training camp facility as the Packers took the field for their 8:45 a.m. practice in full pads. The mercury never rose above 57° on the thermometer, and with a stiff breeze blowing, many players wisely added an extra layer under their uniforms.
A number of players returned to the field after missing some workouts with injuries, including three who were absent from at least the previous three days' practices.
Quarterback Craig Nall (hamstring), wide receiver Javon Walker (quadriceps) and defensive back James Whitley (head) each rejoined their teammates following their respective lay-offs.
Linebacker Paris Lenon (foot), center Scott Wells (arm) and defensive lineman Corey Williams were all back at work after missing Tuesday's double session.
The morning started off with the usual stretching and individual unit drills, with the assembled crowd getting a good laugh at the drill the receivers were running.
To simulate taking hits after making a catch, the wideouts lined up to take their turn catching a pass before being whacked by a bright yellow blocking pad being swung by Donald Driver. The audience along the fence about 20 feet away roared with laughter and applause with every blow.
In a later drill in the end zone, rookie receiver Wilson Thomas leaped high into the air to make a difficult one-handed grab on a pass tossed by Scott McBrien.
When the team drills got under way, the focus seemed to be geared heavily on the running game.
Defensive tackle Grady Jackson put a good lick on Najeh Davenport, sending the runner to the ground with a thud.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman held Ahman Green back from work with the full team Wednesday.
"Ahman's foot was a little sore and the field was a little soft, so I decided to hold him back," Sherman said.
Later, as the offense worked near the goal line, cornerback Michael Hawthorne stepped in front of a Brett Favre pass intended for tight end Steve Bush and streaked the opposite direction, drawing a reaction from the crowd.
Running back Dahrran Diedrick found the end zone on consecutive plays in a red zone drill later in the workout. Doug Pederson hit the former Nebraska Cornhusker with a swing pass for a five-yard score, and the next play saw Diedrick take a toss and sweep around the right end and into the corner of the end zone.
Later in the drill, running back Tony Fisher took a hand off, and while moving to his left, tossed a spiral over the defense and into the arms of Bubba Franks for a touchdown.
Cornerback Joey Thomas, who returned to work Tuesday after missing nearly a week, made a series of fine plays during the practice. In zone coverage, the rookie from Montana State dropped back and made up a substantial amount of ground to tip Pederson's attempt away from Carl Ford. He later ran with Ford in man-to-man coverage and broke up a pass in the end zone.
Pederson ran the second-team offense during the practice, as the coaching staff gave Tim Couch a break to rest his arm. Couch worked during the QB unit drills, but watched during team exercises.
In 7-on-7 drills, Favre hooked up with Javon Walker on one of his patented effortless throws. The receiver ran a fade route and Favre put the ball in perfect position for Walker to go up over Ahmad Carroll to grab the ball in the back of the end zone.
Full team work at the end of the morning practice featured some highlights for the defensive linemen. Ends Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila each fought past their blockers and met Favre in the backfield for a sack.
Later in the series, Kenny Peterson and Larry Smith came together to touch Pederson for a loss.
In the afternoon, special teams coordinator John Bonamego put his kicking game units through a 45-minute workout in the cool conditions.
Walker, who joined Carroll, Davenport, Ford and Shockmain Davis fielding kickoffs, sent a cheer through the onlookers as he took a kick and ran the length of the field with the ball.
In addition to Davis, Ford and Whitley, Antonio Chatman and Robert Ferguson rotated fielding punts from B.J. Sander and Nathan Chapman.
The practice ended with the team working on recovering Ryan Longwell's onside kicks as a light rain began to fall on the field.
In injury news, tight end David Martin missed the practices with a swollen knee. Sherman said that he had also experienced a bout with turf toe last week, but hopes to have him back in practice in the next day or two.
The Packers will hold two full-team practices Thursday with a morning session set for 8:45-11:15 a.m. (pads) and an afternoon workout scheduled to run from 2:45-4:00 p.m. (no pads) at Clarke Hinkle Field (weather permitting).
Where: Clarke Hinkle Field
Weather: 57°, cloudy and windy
Did Not Participate: Sam Breeden (Achilles), Tyreo Harrison (ankle), David Martin (knee), Ja'Dae McGuire (abdominal strain), Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring), Donnell Washington (arch), and Chris Watson (hamstring).
Physically Unable to Perform List: Mike Flanagan (knee tendinitis), Chris Johnson (stress fracture), Mike Wahle (knee contusion),
Non-Football Injury List: Brennan Curtin (boil)
Reserve/Did Not Report List: Mike McKenzie