The training camp crowd gets larger everyday, and Thursday morning was no exception. Approximately 1700 fans filled the bleachers or caught a glimpse of practice from the fence at Clarke Hinkle Field.
Fans were again treated to team oriented drills in the morning as coaches used most of the practice time to work on offensive and defensive schemes. With just a special teams practice scheduled for the afternoon, the team utilized the time for running plays and learning new calls on both sides of the ball.
Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien received plenty of snaps running the offense in 7-on-7 drills, as did first-year Packer Tim Couch. Brett Favre always gets his reps, but with Craig Nall taking the week off with a sore hamstring, that has opened the door for Couch, McBrien, and Doug Pederson.
In punting drills, BJ Sander did an excellent job of placing the ball inside the 20-yard line. The rookie out of Ohio State placed four punts near the five-yard line.
Wednesday also marked a special "training" session of sorts. Jeff Triplette and his officiating crew attended both practices to give players an idea of the new rule changes that will go into affect this season.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said that the officials will also meet with the players in the next couple of days and visit with them on the new rules, primarily defensive holding.
Players asked questions on the field as well. When Hannibal Navies made contact with Steve Bush, the line judge immediately signaled that in a game situation, Navies would have been flagged for pass interference. Several players asked the line judge for clarification on the ruling which may have to be done in order to adapt to the rule changes.
Sherman said the morning session may have been Favre's best practice of the summer so far and it showed. On one particular play, Favre rolled to his right and just as the defense collapsed, Favre rifled a pass into Javon Walker. He also found Robert Ferguson with a beautifully placed touch pass on a sideline route. The two plays drew the loudest cheers of the morning.
During a running play, free agent guard Steve Morley earned offensive line coach Larry Beightol's approval. Beightol said, "That's big time Morley, great job."
However, Cletidus Hunt and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who were standing on the sideline, disagreed. They playfully signaled to Beightol that there was holding on the play.
One of the lighter moments of camp came when Sherman allowed two players to catch punts after practice to determine who would get an extra hour of curfew. Rookie Scott Wells represented the offensive side of the ball, while fellow rookie Corey Williams tried to get his defensive teammates an extra hour of free time.
The punts were shot from a jugs machine from about 50 yards away. Wells missed on both attempts while Williams also missed on his first chance. He received another opportunity due to other players interfering with him. Williams made the most of those chances as he bobbled one ball, but managed to haul it in. He caught the next one with ease. The defensive players cheered and congratulated Williams for earning them an extra hour of curfew.
Williams said he knew he would win all along.
"O-lineman against D-lineman, I knew that wasn't going to work," Williams said. "I played a little bit of tight end in high school. I liked going out, catching the ball, and running people over."
The afternoon session consisted of a 45-minute workout for the special teams units. Sixty players took part in the light session.
Mark Tauscher returned to practice on Thursday, but Mark Roman, who had an injured knee, and Al Harris, who woke up with a hip flexor, missed practice. Cornerback James Whitley also sat out because following a blow to the head he suffered in yesterday's practice, while Grady Jackson was held out due to swollen knees.
In roster news, the Packers waived defensive end Eric Powell.
The team is scheduled to practice Friday at 8:45-11:15 a.m (pads) and in the afternoon at 2:45-4:00 p.m. (pads).
Where: Clarke Hinkle Field
Weather: 72 degrees, sunny
Did Not Participate: Brennan Curtin (groin boil), Mike Flanagan (knee tendonitis), Bubba Franks (sick), Al Harris (hip flexor), Grady Jackson (swollen knee), Chris Johnson (stress fracture), Mike McKenzie (reserve/did not report list), Craig Nall (hamstring), Eric Powell (knee), Frank Rice (knee), Mark Roman (sprained ankle), Joey Thomas (knee sprain), Forrest Vance (knee), Mike Wahle (knee contusion), and James Whitley (blow to head).