Of course it's an intra-squad scrimmage therefore you cannot jump to any serious conclusions based on player performances, but there were a few highlights worth mentioning:
I wrote earlier this week (here) about the potential for Jermichael Finley to have a break out year and he appears to be headed in that direction. Against several different match-ups, Rodgers regularly looked to Finley who demonstrated good hands on his way to four catches in limited snaps. The highlight being an absolute laser from Rodgers to Finley for a touchdown down the middle amid several defenders. While the defense was shorthanded with Charles Woodson resting among others (most notably Nick Barnett), Rodgers looked sharp overall spreading the ball around the field.
Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay continued their neck and neck battle for the Packers punting job. Both punters hit several long bombs while not shanking away any opportunities in whats been their biggest test thus far in training camp. It seems McCarthy is correct in his coach-speak to suggest their talent at the punter position is better than it has been for the last two years. I believe that's the politically correct way of saying whether its Bryan or Mathsay come September, both are better punters than either Derrick Frost or Jeremy Kapinos from the 08' and 09' seasons respectively.
The defense looked aggressive and physical. Although its always hard to tell if everyone (offense or defense) is really going all out during a scrimmage, I was encouraged to see Hawk make a few plays blowing up blockers. The same goes for rookie Morgan Burnett who appeared several times helping to finish off plays near the line of scrimmage.
Brandon Jackson flew down the sidelines on a kick return that seemed to show a running lane. Since the special teams didn't involve live tackling, I'm not ready to anoint Jackson as the next Devin Hester, but Jackson did flash a nice burst going through the hole while the Packers continue to search for the answer for kick returns.
Undrafted free agents aren't normally a big attraction in training camp, but don't tell that to Sam Shields from Miami. The much anticipated debut of the speedster didn't disappoint. While every training camp practice report seems to indicate trouble catching the football, he caught everything on Saturday night. Including a late throw over the middle by Matt Flynn that Shields undercut on his way to an interception. Again it didn't have that true "live" feeling after Shields made the catch but he still showed awareness on a cut back before he outran everyone to the end-zone.
Despite some offseason troubles, CB Brandon Underwood appears ready to seize the opportunity for the nickel back position in the Packers secondary. Underwoood also had an interception for touchdown and several solid tackles on shorter passes.
Mason Crosby nailed all but one of his field goal attempts (including 51 and 53 yards consecutively) much to the relief of the Packer fans. The lone miss seemed to be partially due to the hold by Chris Bryan. Not surprisingly for the former Australian football player has virtually no experience holding for kicks.
The scrimmage seemed a success as McCarthy said he was pleased during his comments afterwards. Reports from Green Bay say that Jordy Nelson simply lost his wind after taking a big hit on a nice catch over the middle. Also Clay Matthews apparently tweaked a hamstring that we'll all be keeping a close eye on I'm sure.
The scrimmage is set to be rebroadcast on NFL Network this coming week. Check your listings and with the Hall of Fame game tonight, I am very pleased to know we'll have football on T.V. every week for the next several months.
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