Thursday 8/8 Packers practice: Calm before the storm

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What I learned at Thursday's practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football.
What I learned at Thursday’s practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football. Pretty well.

The Packers will kick off the 2013 preseason tomorrow night at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

On Thursday morning at Ray Nitschke Field–the final practice before exhibition games start–the team opted to practice in shells, despite the fact that it was originally scheduled to be in full pads.

It was a slow-paced practice without many memorable plays, highlighted by a mid-practice pep talk from head coach Mike McCarthy. The skipper was dissatisfied with the pace of practice, so he paused the action to get his team going.

In the last couple drills of practice, the pace picked up and guys seemed to be playing with more energy.

Eddie Lacy (sort of) returned to practice

Yesterday, Packers running back Eddie Lacy was in flip-flops at practice. Today, he walked onto the practice field wearing cleats and carrying his helmet. But the walk from Armed Forces Drive to Ray Nitschke Field would be the most action Lacy would get all morning.

Lacy didn’t play a single rep at Thursday’s practice and looks highly unlikely to play in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that the coaching staff views Lacy as their No. 1 back. And if that’s the case, it makes sense to keep Lacy off the field in an effort to prevent his hamstring injury from lingering.

Vince Young continued to struggle

In my practice summary from yesterday, I suggested Young is not currently ready for game action. I came away from Thursday morning’s practice thinking the same thing.

During the team portion of practice, Young was intercepted multiple times and sailed a couple more passes well above the receiver’s head. Young did make a nice deep throw to Jeremy Ross, but the receiver couldn’t hang on in the endzone.

According to McCarthy, the Packers would like to get Young into Friday’s game at some point. A brief preseason appearance is one thing, but right now, Young is not ready for regular-season action. What’s the next step after rusty? That’s Vince Young right now.

Johnathan Franklin is quick, crafty in space

With Lacy on the sideline, James Starks and Alex Green got the most snaps with the No. 1 offense. But the most impressive back during Thursday’s (half-speed and unpadded) practice was rookie Johnathan Franklin.

It’s not exactly news, but the UCLA speedster is incredibly light on his feet. He’s probably the best change-of-direction runner on the Packers roster despite this being his first NFL season.

Again, players were not in pads at Thursday’s practice, so take this with a grain of salt. But still, Franklin made a few “wow” moves. Between Franklin’s home-run ability in the open field and Lacy’s something-out-of-nothing approach between the tackles, it’s easy to see why the Packers felt comfortable spending two draft picks on running backs this year.

Aaron Rodgers is really good at throwing the football

It’s fun watching the quarterbacks at practice, especially when you have the pleasure of watching perhaps the best in the business.

One of the most fan-friendly drills at training camp features the quarterbacks throwing the ball downfield into a net. Surely, you’ve seen highlights of this drill before. And the starter makes it look pretty easy.

None of the other quarterbacks (Young, Harrell, Coleman) made it into the net, but Rodgers did. And just as the drill wrapped up, Rodgers threw a bounce pass from about 25 yards away; the ball one-hopped perfectly into the net.

Certainly throwing bounce passes isn’t something quarterbacks are coached to do–and if it was, Tim Tebow would be a pretty good instructor–but it was definitely one of those “Did you see that?” moments that went largely unnoticed by the crowd.

Basically, No. 12 makes this football thing look pretty easy. Rodgers wasn’t on the field much during team drills, but McCarthy said the starters will play (at least a little) on Friday Night.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • Two Bears, One Cup

    I’m sure this has been touched on before, but is it possible that the Packers brought Vince Young to help with read option simulation?

  • Chad Toporski

    The question I have which can’t be answered without firsthand visuals is… How much of Young’s problems are his technique, and how much of his problems are his unfamiliarity with the offense?

  • Slim11

    It’s too soon to tell. However, I am leaning toward the “help with read option simulation” scenario.

    This observation may start another long thread but here goes…

    Why bring in Vince Young when you might have been able to bring in Tim Tebow?

    Media circus aside, you have two QBs who have won national championships, one who won the Heisman Trophy, the other being one of three finalists for the same award and both enjoying a lot of success in major college programs.

    In the NFL, neither proved himself capable of being a good NFL QB. Tebow did win a playoff game, but other mediocre QBs have done so. Young hasn’t proven to very coachable but has enjoyed some regular season successes on the field.

    Both are exceptional athletes but stubbornly refuse to change positions. I assume Young may have been asked at one time or another and we know Tebow has.

    MM expressed, several years ago, he’d like an opportunity to coach Tebow and run him through his QB school. Does he see Vince Young as a similar opportunity?

  • Stroh

    Exactly how does one become “most impressive” during a 1/2 speed, unpadded practice? That’s about the worst comment ever made by whomever made it!

    • Savage57

      By being COMPARATIVELY more impressive than the other two participants who are also practicing at half-speed and unpadded.

      I read at it as just a recap of what happened Thrusday, not a proclamation of who’s the best running back.

      • Stroh

        Half speed is relative. To some anything less tban full speed is 1/2 speed. They find it hard not to go full speed all the time. To those 3/4 speed would be half speed.

    • Chad Toporski

      “Again, players were not in pads at Thursday’s practice, so take this with a grain of salt.”

      You must have stopped reading prior to this line.