Training Camp Report - August 21, 2002


Beginning under overcast skies at Clarke Hinkle Field, the Packers' morning practice Wednesday looked different from the norm.

While their teammates battled on the field, veteran running back Ki-Jana Carter scribbled formations on a piece of athletic tape to instruct fullback Joey Dozier on blocking assignments. In the middle of the lecture, starting fullback William Henderson stopped by to lend his expertise.

On the field, 12th-year quarterback Brett Favre showed that he still has some life in his legs, rolling left out of the pocket and sprinting for a 10-yard gain before the defense could tag him off.

Unfortunately, the Railbirds' view of practice was short-lived, as ominous roars of thunder sent the team inside the Don Hutson Center around 10:30. While only a few drops of rain had fallen up to that point, the relocation proved timely, as blankets of rain pounded the area soon after.

Because the Hutson Center's FieldTurf surface eliminates a player's need to switch out of his cleats, practice resumed instantly once taken indoors.

Wide receiver Robert Ferguson demonstrated that his sore groin is feeling better, streaking down the left sideline to move under a perfectly placed pass by backup quarterback Doug Pederson.

The defense had some revenge a few plays later, when cornerback Mike McKenzie pounced on an out-route by rookie wide receiver Javon Walker to intercept a Favre pass. McKenzie's pick was his second of the practice, and surely would have led to a Lambeau Leap had it been in the midst of the Packers' preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns.

Even without the participation of starting running back Ahman Green, who is nursing a minor groin injury, the Packers' running game had its moments, including a big gain by Rondell Mealey, who sprinted through a hole in the left side of the line before getting help from Ferguson's downfield block.

Like Green, second-year running back Jason Brookins sat out practice due to injury, but that didn't keep him out of the action. Midway through practice, Brookins was sent to the Hutson Center turf, not because of a thunderous hit, but because of actual thunder.

With the rainstorm at its peak, a loud explosion of thunder shook the walls of the Hutson Center, knocking out half of the building's lights in the process, and sending a few players, including Brookins, diving to the ground.

Of course inclement weather is nothing new to the Green Bay Packers, who practiced on, with later highlights including a 25-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Walker in the team's red zone drills, a convincing line-of-scrimmage halting of Mealey by the tandem of Matt Bowen and Hardy Nickerson, plus the stunning quickness around the end by defensive lineman Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

The team's scheduled special team practice in the afternoon was nixed in favor of a full-team pads practice, which also had to be held indoors due to soggy field conditions.

The Packers' next practice will be Thursday, August 22, 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 & Jason Bellamy

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