If you look at the southeast corner of Clarke Hinkle Field, you'll notice the grass is a bit worn, a little less green than the rest of the field. That's because the southeast corner represents the site of daily battles amongst the biggest Packers of them all, the linemen.
"One chance, that's it," barked coach Larry Beightol to his O-line as they took on the D-line. "If you get beat, too bad!"
And so began Wednesday morning's practice, with an hour of position-specific drills -- the offensive line forging holes for the running game, the wide receivers running routes and the defensive backs looking to secure 'interceptions' on balls thrown by Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs Coach Bob Slowik.
Next, the team came together for a hard-hitting sequence of running plays. Rookie Tony Fisher was able to bust through the solid defensive line on his first carry, but later, 2000 first-round draft choice Jamal Reynolds came up with two big stops.
"I thought our 9-on-7 was very physical," said GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman. "As a head coach I get excited when we have a nice run, but I get depressed because they got the nice run against a good defense, which I hope we would be. Today I thought it was give and take both ways."
Following a short special teams drill that featured Ryan Longwell kicking from extra point range and Josh Bidwell punting to Darrien Gordon, the team reconvened to rehearse third down-and-long situations. Highlights from this drill included 20-yard completions from Brett Favre to tight ends Bubba Franks and David Martin, fullback William Henderson and wide receiver Javon Walker. Doug Pederson also took control of the offense, making a 25-yard connection with wide receiver Kerry Hood, before tight end Tyrone Davis hauled in a one-handed circus catch for a 15-yard gain.
The morning practice concluded with something Packers fans don't see everyday -- guard Mark Tauscher and defensive tackle Gilbert Brown catching punts. Once a week, Coach Sherman cooks up a contest that pits the offense against the defense. This week, one member of both the offensive and defensive lines was nominated to catch punts, with the reward being an hour extension of curfew for the winning squad.
Because Tauscher caught the first two balls that came his way -- the second one-handed -- the offense was granted an extra bit of freedom for the night before heading back to the dorms. After failing to lay a hand on the first punt, Brown literally 'dropped the ball,' on his second attempt to keep the defense at St. Norbert College, the team's training camp headquarters.
Wednesday afternoon's practice focused on special teams.
The Packers' next practice will be Thursday, August 8, 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