Kicker Dave Rayner's rough practice Thursday, when he missed three field goals from 39 yards out, prompted one reporter to ask Head Coach Mike McCarthy after Friday's practice if he'd like to see Rayner attempt a pressure kick before the preseason ends, either at the end of a half or with the game on the line.
McCarthy obviously said yes. So did Rayner.
"Any reps in preseason games are going to be good for me," Rayner said. "One, for me to get confidence and to get in a groove with that, and two, to show the coaches I can do it all in a game. Any long field goals, anything like that would be great."
On Thursday, Rayner was kicking with a strong wind blowing right to left, and all three of his misses were to the left. He made seven of 10 field goals overall. The worst miss was when the kicking team rushed onto the field with the clock ticking down and hurriedly set up to kick. Rayner hooked the attempt badly.
That's not something Rayner has ever attempted in a real game, but he'd love to get that chance next week against Cincinnati or Tennessee.
"We practiced it all the time in college, obviously, you run out and do the last-second thing," he said. "That's one of those things where you can practice all you want, but you need to do it out there with the fans yelling and people screaming and a little more pressure."
Rayner, a second-year pro out of Michigan State, tried only one game-winning kick in his college career, a 53-yarder at Michigan his senior year. He said it was "into about a 30 mile-an-hour wind" and he hit it well but came up a few yards short. Michigan State eventually lost the game in three overtimes.
On Friday, Rayner bounced back after his rough day and hit all four of his attempts inside the Don Hutson Center, two from 29 and two from 34 yards.
"You don't want to have two bad days in a row," Rayner said. "You want to figure out what you did wrong and fix it, and I think I did today. I think I hit the ball well and had more pop in my leg."
Consistency may ultimately decide whether Rayner becomes the Packers' kicker in 2006. He wasn't distraught by any means over his difficulties, but took a business-like approach to get back on track.
"I like the way he goes about his job," McCarthy said. "He's the first to know why he did what he did yesterday with the three kicks. It's important at any position to fix it immediately.
"He's a young player that needs all the reps possible. He's got the ability, he just needs the experience and the opportunity to do it."
Crowd noise, silent counts
Practicing in the Hutson Center, the Packers piped in crowd noise to simulate a hostile environment and for the offense to work on its silent snap counts. The noise was primarily turned on when the No. 1 offense was on the field, but the No. 2 offense got a few snaps with the noise on as well.
"For what we used it for, it was good," McCarthy said.
Through roughly two dozen plays with the noise on, the offense had just one pre-snap penalty, a false start on rookie left guard Jason Spitz. Otherwise, everything with battling the noise seemed to go smoothly.
"It's something you have to get used to with going through the silent counts," Spitz said. "It's the first time we put it in practices. I just had a little mental error, and it's not going to happen again."
Tough on the goal line
Rookie linebacker Abdul Hodge, who quickly earned a reputation as a big hitter at the start of training camp, had another one Friday.
Playing in the goal-line defense, Hodge slipped through unblocked and nearly got to running back Noah Herron before the handoff. Hodge said it wasn't a blitz, just a fast read.
Herron was knocked backwards about 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage by the big hit, but did well to avoid a fumble. He bobbled the ball slightly on impact but hung on to it as he fell to the ground.
One play earlier, linebacker Nick Barnett almost got a turnover on the goal line. Barnett leaped near the corner of the end zone and early picked off a lob pass intended for tight end Zac Alcorn, knocking the ball away incomplete.
With practice moving inside because of the threat of a thunderstorm in the middle of the day, McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson decided to allow some fans into the Hutson Center for about 30 minutes during the first hour of practice.
Running back Najeh Davenport (hip) returned to practice and was cleared for full duty.
Running back Ben Brown (tailbone), tight end Tory Humphrey (elbow) and offensive guard Mookie Moore (shoulder) all sat out.