Running back Ahman Green and linebacker Brady Poppinga took another step in their recovery from season-ending leg injuries in 2005 when they participated in team drills in full pads for the first time Tuesday night.
Green took the ball on both power running plays and zone-scheme plays and had no difficulties with the contact, though as expected his reps were limited.
"He looked fine, comfortable, explosive," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's just like everybody else was 21/2 weeks ago. He just has to get back in the groove of it and get in football shape.
"He's fine. He has no hesitation, reservations with it at all. We're just trying to be smart with him."
Same with Poppinga, who charged on an outside blitz on one play and wasn't holding back.
"Physically those guys probably have the freshest legs of anybody out there," McCarthy said. "A lot of times your pad level is too high and things like that, but I think they're both off to a good start."
The other key player back in full-pads work for the first time was safety Marquand Manuel, who also was held out of some of the first-team snaps.
"They're all on a very similar schedule," McCarthy said. "They're in the team drills but they're not taking a lot of reps because we want them to go through the whole week without a setback."
McCarthy said the full-pads practice scheduled for Thursday night would be in shells, so the last full-pads practice this week will be Wednesday afternoon. Both practices Thursday would be in shells to give the players "a chance to get their bodies back for Saturday night," McCarthy said.
More pushing and shoving
Much like the one-on-one pass rush/protection drill with the linemen on Monday, the blitz pickup drill between running backs and linebackers got a little heated on Tuesday night.
In one instance, running back Najeh Davenport and linebacker Tim Goodwell stayed locked up for an extended time after the play. Another time, running back Noah Herron and linebacker Nick Barnett got after each other and started a scrum amongst several players, but order was quickly restored.
"Trust me, I've seen a lot worse," McCarthy said. "It's Week 3 of training camp, that's all it is."
Linebacker and first-round draft pick A.J. Hawk made his first highlight-reel play of camp on Tuesday night with the offense backed up near its own goal-line.
With receiver Chad Lucas running a shallow crossing route and Hawk right on his heels, quarterback Aaron Rodgers' throw was behind the target and deflected off Lucas as he reached back. The ball rolled up Hawk's shoulder pads but he managed to corral it on the dead run for an interception.
Anytime they're asked about him, the Packers coaches and front office personnel can't say enough good things about 12-year veteran fullback William Henderson and the value he brings to the team.
"He knows how to play the game, knows how to be a professional," General Manager Ted Thompson said. "All the things that I would hope all our young players would watch and see how William goes about his craft."
Henderson displays his veteran leadership any chance he gets, whether it's running through drills, taking his reps during team play, or chatting with a younger player on the sideline or in the locker room. The respect he has is noticeable, and it's respect he has earned by being a tireless worker from the first day he entered the league in 1995.
"We've been told many times in the past this is a performance-based industry, and if you don't win and help the team win, then you're not needed, and I'm trying to make sure I'm needed for quite some time," said Henderson, whose loyal relationship with the team has been a two-way street, having re-signed with Green Bay once as a restricted free agent in 1998 and three times as an unrestricted free agent in 1999, 2002 and most recently this past March.
"My coaches know I may not be best player and I don't profess to be perfect, but I'm striving for perfect and hopefully I'll reach excellence. That's all I can do."
Henderson's business-like approach to his job never changes. His answer when asked about his thoughts on the new coaching staff clearly illustrated that.
"I'm happy to have an opportunity to be employed," he said. "There's no other thoughts about it. Realistically, I'm here to play the game I love and grown up with and cherish.
"I'm hungry to be here, and I want this team to do well. That's the reason I signed back and I'm looking forward to the changes being a positive."
Standing his ground
Rookie free agent offensive tackle Josh Bourke has found himself involved in some extra-curricular pushing and shoving more than once in his battle for a roster spot, but so far that's been chalked up to a spirited attitude the coaches like to see.
"He seems like a pretty tough guy," Thompson said. "He gets into fights in practice all the time with our guys, and I noticed he got into some scuffles with the San Diego guys, and I think for an offensive lineman that's probably a positive."
With the recent shuffling of the offensive line, Bourke was moved up to the No. 2 left tackle spot behind Chad Clifton, a fairly prominent place for a non-drafted Division II college product. Bourke is from Grand Valley State in Michigan.
"He's done a very good job," Thompson said. "He's competing his tail off, and he's in a competitive situation. He's giving it his best go."
McCarthy said the receiver Robert Ferguson is battling a sore heel, which was hit during last Saturday's game and then was stepped on again in practice on Monday.
Cornerback Therrian Fontenot missed the morning practice with a hip pointer, while the injuries to linebacker Kevin Schimmelmann (foot) and fullback A.J. Cooper (shoulder) were clarified.