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Training Camp Report: Young QBs Progressing

The Packers are one of the few teams in the league carrying only three quarterbacks on the roster during training camp, which is something Head Coach Mike McCarthy was in favor of so the backups could get as many repetitions as possible. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - July 30


The Packers are one of the few teams in the league carrying only three quarterbacks on the roster during training camp, which is something Head Coach Mike McCarthy was in favor of so the backups could get as many repetitions as possible.

The quarterbacking corps is a youthful one, with starter Aaron Rodgers backed up by a pair of rookies in draft picks Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, but McCarthy is pleased with what he has seen from the newcomers during camp.

"I think in both Brian and Matt together, you are seeing them get more comfortable with the speed of the game, more comfortable in the pocket," McCarthy said. "That's what you look for in young quarterbacks, so I'm very pleased with the progress they have made so far."

The ups and downs young quarterbacks face was exemplified by Brohm's performance at Wednesday morning's practice. When he tried to make a short dump-off throw to fullback John Kuhn in the flat, linebacker Desmond Bishop was all over the play and stepped in front of Kuhn for an easy interception that would have led to an easy return for a score.

Later on in team drills, Brohm bounced back with a nice deep ball down the middle to wide receiver Ruvell Martin, splitting cornerback Jarrett Bush and safety Charlie Peprah for a big gain.

During last Saturday's season-opening press conference, McCarthy commented that he has never worked with a rookie quarterback that has picked up the mental aspect of the game as quickly as Brohm has.

"That's a huge compliment, thinking about all of the quarterbacks that he has been around," Brohm said. "At the same time, I can't let that get to my head. I've got to keep going out there and proving every day that I can pick things up quickly and that I can take it out there and execute it on the field."

Flynn said the biggest adjustment from the college game has been the differences in terminology and the playbook.

"It's completely different the way you call it, what it is called than what I did in college," he said. "It is a very wordy play-call system, so it's just learning that and getting comfortable and seeing protections.

"(The playbook) is a lot bigger. It's just because you have one play and then it will show a bunch of pages more of what the play could turn into against different defenses."

Both players said that Rodgers has been very helpful during the learning process and that they have been leaning on him during camp for advice.

"He's done a really good job of taking me and Brian under his wing, and kind of showing us the ropes and showing us little points and tips to help us learn the offense and get comfortable," Flynn said. "He's a young player, and not too long ago he was in our situation having to learn it all. He's been helping us out and he's done a really good job."

Back in action

There were probably very few players who were happier to make it to the end of practice on Monday than Tory Humphrey.

During the opening training camp practice in 2007, the third-year tight end broke his lower leg and spent the entire season on injured reserve.

"I admit I was a little nervous on the first day after what happened on the first day last year, but I had to get over that," Humphrey said. "I'm happy to be out there making plays."

Humphrey played in seven games as rookie in '06, but saw that season end prematurely as well after suffering a hamstring injury in November. Despite an injury-riddled first two seasons, the team has stuck with Humphrey.

"It shows that they like what I was doing in the offseason," Humphrey said. "I just had to continue with that and just work hard. I owe it to them, my teammates, and myself to get out on the field and be accountable."

Humphrey will be competing with rookie third-round pick Jermichael Finley for the backup tight end spot behind Donald Lee, and also will look to contribute on special teams.

"I think he has definitely gotten over feeling his way there the first practice or two," McCarthy said. "He's done some things on special teams and at the tight end position. If you remember, going into last year I thought Tory would have been one of our big contributors and then had the ankle injury."

{sportsad300}High stakes

Days at training camp are pretty full with practices, meetings and film work, but players occasionally find a few minutes to get away from the grind.

Driver said he has been joined by some of the other wide receivers in playing a domino game where the lowest-scoring player has to do pushups on the other player's call.

"If you are driving in your car and he is on the side of you and tells you to get one, you owe him some, you've got to stop your car, get out and do a pushup in the middle of the road and then get back in," Driver said. "Greg (Jennings) got James (Jones) with that one yesterday."

Driver said he was forced to get down and do a pushup while he was eating cereal at breakfast on Wednesday morning. He was also called on, by both Jones and Jennings, to do a few during the pow-wow with reporters around his locker after practice.

Injury update

Cornerback Tramon Williams (hip flexor) and defensive tackles Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and Justin Harrell (back) sat out both practices on Wednesday. McCarthy said he was hopeful Williams would be able to return on Friday, and that Pickett is day-to-day. McCarthy added that if it were up to Pickett, he would be out on the field but the team wants to play it safe.

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sat out Wednesday morning's practice and did limited work in the evening. Tackle Chad Clifton took limited reps in the morning practice, but participated fully in Wednesday night's padded practice.

McCarthy said after practice on Wednesday night that this year's camp has been the healthiest training camp that he has been a part of, which he attributed to all of the work the team did in OTAs and mini-camp and the players' conditioning.

A day away from the field

The Packers will take a day off from the practice field on Thursday before returning for two practices on Friday. On Thursday morning the players will lift weights, have a team meeting, and conduct a walk-through in the gym.

In the afternoon, the team will be addressed by guest speaker Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary. McCarthy said the visit was set up a few months back after he heard Fleischer speak to all of the NFL's head coaches at the league meetings in the spring and came away impressed with his presentation.

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