The Green Bay Packers took to the practice field for the final time during their 2004 training camp Wednesday. Fans lined the fences of Clarke Hinkle Field to get a last up-close glimpse of their gridiron heroes in training as they prepared for their upcoming preseason finale Friday night.
The practice marked the last time the Packers will take to Clarke Hinkle Field in its present state, as construction will begin as early as this weekend on renovations to the training ground. A top-flight drainage system is set to be installed with a new natural grass surface placed on top of it to improve its future viability. The renovations are scheduled to be completed prior to next summer's training camp.
Practice got underway with a 30-minute session of special teams work. Special teams coordinator John Bonamego put his group through the drills, with much of the time focusing on kickoff coverage and returns.
As the full team portion of the day's proceedings began, the players were boisterous as they took to the field in shorts and helmets. It seemed that the team was well aware that this would be their final training camp workout, and weren't too unhappy about that.
Following individual positional drills, Brett Favre came out firing during an 11-on-11 session. He opened practice by firing a strike to Javon Walker on a slant route.
A few plays later, wide receiver Carl Ford got behind the defense and Favre let fly with a bomb deep down the middle of the field. The pass came down just beyond the outstretched arms of Jason Horton and James Whitley and landed in the hands of Ford as he caught the ball in full stride.
Horton came back a few plays later and got his hand on a pass, knocking the ball away from receiver Robert Ferguson.
Cornerback Ahmad Carroll, working with the starting defense in place of Michael Hawthorne, jumped an out pattern on the sideline and dragged his feet to snare an interception.
Ryan Longwell and the field goal unit then stepped out on to the field for some work. Rob Davis continued his run of precision snapping, getting the ball into the holder's hands for good placement throughout the drill. Doug Pederson and B.J. Sander alternated working as the holder for Longwell's kicks.
In a later goal line drill, Najeh Davenport enjoyed repeated success as he found the end zone on numerous occasions.
Favre made quick work of the second-string defense in the red zone later in the workout. He zipped a pass to Donald Driver that traveled through tight coverage for an 18-yard touchdown on the first play of the drill.
Carroll topped off a long summer of practices with another fine interception toward the end of practice. The rookie blanketed speedy receiver Kelvin Kight down the right sideline and leaped into the air to pick off a pass from Pederson to round out the action.
Following the workout, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman addressed some of his plans for Friday night's game at Tennessee. Sherman said that he intends to get at least three of his four reserve quarterbacks into the action against the Titans. Tim Couch did throw in team drills Wednesday, so he should be available for the game.
In other injury news, linebacker Torrance Marshall sat for the second consecutive day after tweaking a hamstring Monday and will miss Friday night's game.
Although he has been held out of practice this week, Sherman did not rule running back Ahman Green out for the Tennessee contest, but the coach did expect to see a lot of Davenport on the field.
Sherman said that fans could expect to see more of the starting unit this week than in previous years' preseason finales. He cited the fact that this will be the first opportunity for all five offensive linemen to work together this season, and that there is a 10-day gap between Friday's game and the September 13 regular season opener at Carolina in his decision.
The Packers will hold a walk-through practice Thursday inside of Lambeau Field before they board their airplane for Nashville. Like all practices for the remainder of the season, the session will be closed to the public.
Where: Clarke Hinkle Field
Weather: 78°, sunny
Did Not Participate: Shockmain Davis (leg), Ahman Green (knee), Michael Hawthorne (back), Torrance Marshall (hamstring), David Martin (knee), Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring), Larry Smith (quad), Donnell Washington (arch) and Chris Watson (hamstring).
Physically Unable to Perform List: Chris Johnson (stress fracture).
Reserve/Did Not Report List: Mike McKenzie