The Packers continued their practices Wednesday in front of the largest group of railbirds all summer. Approximately 1400 fans watched each practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on a rather breezy day.
Training camp is only three days old for the veterans, but each day a new player seems to grab the crowd's attention. The past couple days featured big plays on offense from Brett Favre, Ahman Green and Javon Walker. The defensive standouts were Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Aaron Kampman and Mark Roman.
Wednesday was safety Darren Sharper's turn for a little attention.
The eight-year veteran from William & Mary was all over the practice field in the morning session. If he wasn't intercepting passes, he was breaking them up or causing all kinds of havoc for the wide receivers.
On one particular play he made a leaping grab of a Brett Favre pass intended for wide receiver Scottie Vines. Vines was running down the sideline after he beat the bump and run at the line of scrimmage and it appeared he had a wide open space for a completion.
Sharper, however, flew out of nowhere to make the interception before rolling over on the ground. Had the play occurred in a game, it most likely would have been reviewed by the instant replay booth, but it looked like a spectacular catch to the defense and the Packer faithful.
Sharper later intercepted another pass of Favre's, but the quarterback reached into his pocket for an imaginary flag as if to suggest there was pass interference on the play. At any rate, Sharper continued to have an impressive workout. On one occasion he timed the ball just right and hit Robert Ferguson just as he was about to make the catch. Ferguson got up slowly but was fine.
If Sharper was the defense's star of the day, then Driver was the offense's best performer. The six-year veteran out of Alcorn State found himself on the receiving end of numerous Favre passes. Favre said in his press conference after practice that Driver has looked good so far and has shown the athleticism he is known for.
The special teams unit received it's most extensive action of training camp as B.J. Sander and Nathan Chapman practiced downing the ball between inside the 20-yard line.
Although Sander had some success, Chapman placed the ball on the 4-yard line and 2-yard line on consecutive tries. Sharper, Carl Ford, James Whitley and Antonio Chapman all took part in the returning duties.
Ford made an amazing catch in a 7-on-7 drill when he went against his body and caught a pass that was behind him. Yet, he caught the wrath of GM/ Head Coach Mike Sherman when he fumbled on the very same play.
Although the crowd responds more to the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, there was plenty of individualized attention being paid to the 1-on-1 drills between the offensive and defensive lines.
Tackle Mark Tauscher took the day off due to his ankle injury yesterday morning. Kevin Barry, a Racine, Wis. native, took his spot in the lineup although he did have a few problems in 1-on-1 drills.
Kampman rushed past Barry to reach the dummy quarterback and visibly frustrated, Barry wanted another try. He got back in line and this time his offensive linemates, led by guard Marco Rivera, cheered him on. Barry responded by firing back on the whistle and wrestling Kampman to the ground. The offensive line cheered for Barry as he stepped back out of line.
Defensive end/tackle Kenny Peterson also wanted revenge after jumping offsides against Jason Hilliard. Offensive line coach Larry Beightol used a hard count and got Peterson to jump, prompting Beightol to say, "I'll get you every time, Kenny P. I'll get you every time." Peterson jumped back in line and bursted past Hilliard to get to the dummy.
Rookie Scott Wells had success against James Lee in the 1-on-1 drills gaining Beightol's praise. "Good job in there young man," Beightol said. "That's a fine way to do things."
For the second straight day, the Packers flirted with disaster when third round pick Joey Thomas fell to the ground and grabbed his knee during the morning practice. Sherman said it wasn't as bad as it appeared and called the injury a mild sprain.
"We were concerned at one time, but the doctor looked at him and he's going to be day to day," Sherman said.
Mark Roman also limped off in the afternoon practice with an ankle sprain, which didn't appear serious. Bubba Franks sat out both practices because he was sick and Favre took the afternoon off to rest his arm.
Wednesday marked a special day for the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA). The organization, who's Hall of Fame is located in the Lambeau Field Atrium, had 32 of its members in attendance for the morning practice and visited with Sherman following the workout.
The exhibit is not only for the coaches, but contains plaques of high school state champions and the runners-up, as well as conference champions. There also is a team photo of all seven high school state champions from the past season in the Atrium.
The team returns to practice on Thursday at 8:45-11:15 (pads) and a special teams practice in the afternoon (2:15-3:00).
Where: Clarke Hinkle Field
Weather: 76 degrees, sunny, windy
Did Not Participate: Brennan Curtin (groin boil), Mike Flanagan (knee tendonitis), Bubba Franks (sick), Chris Johnson (stress fracture), Mike McKenzie (reserve/did not report list), Craig Nall (hamstring), Eric Powell (knee), Frank Rice (knee), Mark Tauscher (ankle sprain), Joey Thomas (knee sprain), Forrest Vance (knee), and Mike Wahle (knee contusion)