Training Camp Report: Heat Cuts Practice Short


With the sweltering heat taking its toll on the players, Head Coach Mike McCarthy ended Monday's practice about 20 minutes sooner than scheduled.

The players practiced for roughly 2 hours, 10 minutes. In the opening half-hour of practice, the temperature was 98 degrees with a heat index of 111. Nearly 90 minutes later, the heat index had fallen just three degrees to 108.

"We just cut back some of the individual (drills) and I felt the pace kind of dropping off a little bit," McCarthy said. "We really only cut six plays out (of the team drills)."

Defensive tackle Kenderick Allen and offensive guard Junius Coston both struggled with the heat and had to call it quits early, but other than that the players handled the oppressive heat well.

"Frankly I think this is an excellent opportunity for us to practice in the heat," McCarthy said. "In the first four weeks of your season, you may catch a day like this. I thought it was good for our football team. Obviously we had to be smart about it, and I think we accomplished that."

Getting his picks

Prized free-agent cornerback Charles Woodson had his first standout day of camp, intercepting three passes during team and 7-on-7 drills. McCarthy noted that on two of them, he saw Woodson baiting the quarterback into the throw, which is exactly the type of savvy, veteran play they're hoping Woodson brings to a young defense.

Ahmad Carroll was among the other defenders who had an interception as well.

"I thought the defense as a whole, particularly in pass coverage, had a very good day," McCarthy said.

The comment was double-edged, however, as McCarthy was also visibly disappointed in the sloppiness of the offense that led to the turnovers.

After watching both sides of the ball commit pre-snap penalties during the competitive third-down portion of practice on Sunday night, McCarthy emphasized to the players that they can't beat themselves with those types of mistakes.

And he refused to give the offense a break on Monday because of the heat.

"I'm not about excuses - the defense had to play in it as well," he said. "You either do or you don't, and we did not. I'll look at the film. A lot of times when you leave the practice field, it's not as bad as you think it is and it's not as good as you think it is."

50-50 balls

The offensive coaches have been harping on getting the receivers to win any jump balls with defenders. Particularly on third down or in the red zone, those are the types of plays that can change the course of a game, one way or the other.

"What we're asking our guys to do is to make the play when the play comes," offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski said. "I've talked about the 50-50 ball, when that ball is up in the air, you have to come down with the ball."

During the red zone portion towards the end of practice, Robert Ferguson and Ruvell Martin each won a jump ball on pop-fly passes to the corner of the end zone, a play often used against single coverage and/or to beat a blitz. Those were a good start, but Jagodzinski hasn't seen enough of those plays.

"Not yet, but that's what we're talking about," he said. "We'll take that clip of film, show it to them and say this is what we want. If a guy can do it once, he can always do it. You've got the proof on film. You have to be consistent doing it."

Familiar face

Former Packers running back Dorsey Levens will begin his training camp internship in the pro personnel department on Tuesday.

Levens, a 1994 fifth-round draft choice who played eight years in Green Bay and ranks fifth on the team's all-time rushing list, will work for director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie through the second preseason game on Aug. 19. Levens will be attending practice and studying Packers personnel, watching tape and writing reports on pro and college players, and assisting with tryouts.

McKenzie said Levens has expressed an interest in starting a career in pro personnel, and this will be his first hands-on experience.

Levens finished his playing career with the Giants and Eagles and retired as a Packer this past year.

Return units

The special teams units worked briefly on kickoff returns, and the two players who took turns as the primary return man were Najeh Davenport and Carroll. For both players, fullback Ben Brown was the other deep man and lead blocker.

Thus far on punt returns, the players getting looks have included Woodson, Ferguson, Greg Jennings and Cory Rodgers.

Injury update

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett returned to team drills and full-contact duty after being limited to individual drills on Sunday because of a minor head injury.

Offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who McCarthy said tweaked his right knee on Sunday night, sat out but the injury isn't considered serious.

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