Training Camp Report - July 29, 2002

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Monday marked the third consecutive day consisting of both morning and afternoon practices. It began with a soft drizzle that likely had the loyal fans lining the fences along Oneida Street concerned that practice might be moved inside the Don Hutson Center, but the rain soon let up, giving way to a cool breeze that offered a reprieve from Sunday's sweltering conditions.

The star unit of the day was the Packers defense, which looked solid against the offense's ground attack.

"Today was a very heavy day, there was a lot of hitting going on today," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "This was probably the toughest practice in the entire preseason in regard to contact. I thought . . . our defense really stepped up and played a good solid run defense which is something that they needed to do today and they did it."

Among those stifling the run were veterans Joe Johnson and Vonnie Holliday, who created an intimidating presence that rookie defensive ends Aaron Kampman and John Gilmore are sure to learn from.

Special teams got time and attention at both practices, keeping the north and south ends of the field occupied with punt and kickoff return drills. Energetic special teams coach Frank Novak managed to keep both ends buzzing with excitement as he tested the Packers' punt returners, including recent addition Darrien Gordon and returnees Darren Sharper and Robert Ferguson, all of whom saw multiple reps under the watchful eye of teammates and coaches.

Practices went in a new direction Monday, with drills designed around specific game situations.

"There was a lot of 4-minute offense (this morning), which is what we do at the end of the game if we have a lead, or if we don't have a lead, defensively trying to get the ball back," Sherman said.

The afternoon practice focused on third-down situations, with the stiff competition between the offense and defense resulting in a virtual stalemate.

Tuesday's practices will be from 8:45-11:45 a.m. and 2:15-3:15 p.m., the afternoon consisting of special teams only. Both will be held at Clarke Hinkle Field, weather and field conditions permitting.

-- by Sarah Sherman

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