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Training Camp Report - August 7


Soggy field conditions forced the Packers indoors to the Don Hutson Center Thursday for the final practice in pads before their showdown with the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night.

"We (practiced outside) yesterday and we were slipping and sliding and it was softer (today) than it was yesterday," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "I hate to do that with fans out there driving up here to watch us practice, but it was in the interest of the players' health."

Returning to the lineup after missing yesterday's practice were fullback Nick Luchey and cornerback Al Harris.

Donald Driver participated in a few warm-up drills with receivers at the beginning of practice, but continued to rest his hamstring while the rest of the team worked out in pads.

Safety Darren Sharper, who suffered a stinger in his shoulder while making a diving tackle on Lamar Smith, July 27, continues to practice with the team but is unlikely to suit up for the game Saturday.

"I'm feeling good, but it's preseason," Sharper said. "I'm going to try and make sure that I come back 100 percent.

"I'll get a couple of games in, preseason-wise, and get that game speed going. I'll be fine by the regular season."

In 9-on-7 drills, Najeh Davenport ran into a solid defense as Jacoby Shepherd stepped up from the safety position to stop the running back behind the line of scrimmage.

Herbert Goodman met a trio of defenders when Torrance Marshall, Chukie Nwokorie and Steve Warren all converged at the line of scrimmage to stop the running back for no gain.

Rolling to his right, Brett Favre hit receiver Karsten Bailey in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown from inside the red zone, while Ahman Green scored on a dive over the middle of the line from 3 yards away.

Following the first 90 minutes of practice, Sherman allowed the players to remove their shoulder pads for the remainder of the drills.

Game-breaking plays by the defense highlighted the final team period of the morning session.

First, safety Jeremy Unertl moved in front of tight end Tony Donald to tip and then catch a ball from quarterback Akili Smith.

Then cornerback Al Harris jumped in front of wide receiver Kamau Peterson to tip a ball that safety Antuan Edwards intercepted.

Finally, Shepherd broke up Craig Nall's pass to Donald, resulting in an interception for linebacker Marcus Wilkins.

The Packers led the NFL in turnover ratio last season and ranked second in the NFC with 24 interceptions. Sharper said Wednesday's performance indicates that the team is on the right track to at least duplicating their previous success.

"If we can build upon what we did last year with our interception totals and our turnovers, causing fumbles, we should rank up there with the top five defenses," Sharper said. "It starts at practice. The more interceptions and caused-fumbles you get in practice, it definitely carries over.

"There were numerous times last year where we had about 10 interceptions and caused-fumbles combined throughout the (week's) practices, and then the game comes and we end up with four or five turnovers. So it definitely correlates."

The offense wasn't without its moments of success however.

In one of the final plays of the morning, Robert Ferguson went up between Harris and Edwards to pull in a perfectly placed pass from Smith for a 30-yard gain down the left sideline.

On the following play, rookie DeAndrew Rubin shook his defender on an out route to make a 15-yard grab along the sideline.

The defense picked up where it left off in the afternoon practice in shells.

Anderson, Harris and Paris Lenon each batted down passes before safety Bobby Jackson got the first interception of the afternoon, diving under a pass that went through Donald's hands.

Edwards also came up with a pick, his second of the day, stepping in front of Nall's pass intended for wide receiver Antonio Chatman.

Ferguson looked like he was finally over his tailbone injury, running down a 50-yard bomb launched by Favre. Ferguson would have scored on the play had the field been 100 yards long, but instead he just kept running until he found the exit to the building.

On special teams, Chris Johnson, the fastest player in the 2003 combine, displayed his blazing speed, outrunning defenders on several kickoffs down the right sideline.

"I'm just toying with them right now," Johnson said. "I just try to stride out and when they cut, I just turn on the bursts."

Green sat out the afternoon practice as a result of dehydration.

The Packers will take practice inside Lambeau Field Friday for a final walk-through before leaving for Atlanta. Friday's practice is closed to the public.

The next public practice, weather and field conditions permitting, will be Monday (Aug. 11) when the Packers return to Clarke Hinkle Field for two workouts: 8:45-11:15 a.m. (pads) and 2:45-4:10 p.m. (shells).

Where: Don Hutson Center

Weather: 74 degrees

Did Not Participate: Reggie Coleman (hip), Tyrone Davis (knee), Donald Driver (hamstring), Jorg Heckenbach (kidneys), Steve Josue (knee), James Lee (hip), David Martin (hamstring), Terdell Sands (ankle), Lamar Smith (knee), Adam Tate (knee), Javon Walker (ankle), Rod Walker (shoulder).

Click here for the training camp schedule.

Click here for information on Packers training camp, including a visitor's guide.

Jason Bellamy contributed to this report.

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