Green Bay's defense seems to pick up more enthusiasm and momentum with every practice, every drill and every punishing hit. Wednesday's events at Clarke Hinkle Field were no exception.
It all began with the nine-on-seven drill, when linebacker Hardy Nickerson hunted down running back Rondell Mealey and stopped him at the line of scrimmage. Teammates and coaches thunderously voiced their approval, and the tone for the remainder of practice was set.
Quarterbacks Brett Favre and Craig Nall both led their offensive units to score in the two-minute drill. Favre's drive featured a 15-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Driver for a first down and a touchdown pass to wide receiver Charles Lee from 10 yards out.
During Nall's drive, running back Ki-Jana Carter reached out and made a one-handed catch for a first down. This was followed by a 25-yard pass from Nall to wide receiver Karsten Bailey for another first down. The drive ended with a 30-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell.
But in the end, Packers defenders ruled Wednesday's practice, coming up with countless plays worthy of this year's highlight reel. Cornerback Mike McKenzie jumped to the inside of receiver Javon Walker's sideline route to pick off Favre's pass in the first play of the seven-on-seven drill. Cornerback Hurley Tarver had an interception of his own, hauling in a ball thrown by Nall.
Batted balls were also a common occurrence Wednesday, as defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt and defensive tackle Steve Warren swatted down passes. Safety Matt Bowen also got in on the action, deflecting a ball high enough for safety Darren Sharper to get under it for the interception.
In what has become a weekly tradition for the team, the offense and defense squared off against one another after practice to earn a curfew extension. This week's challenge, as dictated by GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman, required a member of each squad to make a field goal.
Representing the offense was rookie center Andy Eby, who cleared the crossbar by inches. Cracking under the enormous pressure, rookie defensive end Aaron Kampman missed his kick wide left.
The Packers' next practice will be Thursday, August 14, from 8:45-11:25 a.m., and 2:45-4:10 p.m., at Clarke Hinkle Field, weather and field conditions permitting.
-- by Leslie Ricker