Thumbs up: The Graham Harrell-led No. 2 offense didn’t get into the end zone in their 2-minute drill at the end of practice, but the exercise was further evidence of how far the third-string quarterback has come in the past year or so. Getting the nod to run the second 2-minute drill after the Aaron Rodgers-led No. 1 group saw its series stall at the 47-yard line, Harrell converted a fourth-and-16 with a 26-yard strike to rookie tight end Ryan Taylor, then completed passes to wide receiver Tori Gurley and tight end D.J. Williams to put the ball at the defense’s 6-yard line. After a third-down spike, Harrell had one fourth-down throw with 5 seconds left, and against a blitz, got the pass for Taylor away. Taylor, though, didn’t turn to see the ball until after it had fallen incomplete.
Thumbs down: While Rodgers isn’t concerned, it would be nice for the No. 1 offense to get the best of the No. 1 defense a little more frequently. Rodgers’ group again came up short in the 2-minute drill, and even more troubling was the fact that the unit ended up gaining only 7 net yards on its possession. While Rodgers’ guys did convert a third-and-2 with a 6-yard completion to Donald Driver, they went backward after that, with Rodgers overthrowing James Jones, Jones catching just a 3-yard pass, and then Rodgers being sacked by A.J. Hawk to set up a fourth-and-17 from the offense’s 47-yard line. Rodgers’ final heave to Jones fell incomplete with Tramon Williams in tight coverage, and the defense, which was protecting a 26-20 lead with 1:22 left and the offense owning two time outs, prevailed. “It’s time to go play some live football,” said McCarthy, whose team opens preseason play Saturday night in Cleveland. “We’re tired of having competitive drill work. That’s what normally happens at this time of training camp.”
Play of the day: The play was technically over, but don’t tell Ryan Grant that. During an 11-on-11 no-huddle period, Grant caught a pass in the right flat and gained roughly 10 yards before being ruled down in the non-tackling period. Grant, as has been his custom throughout camp, was going to go the extra 40 or so yards to the end zone. In his way? Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who had the angle on him. But Grant stopped on a dime, let Collins whiz past, then continued on his way. While James Starks has certainly opened more eyes during camp, the incumbent running back still has plenty left in the tank.
Camp confidential: The last time the Packers went to the White House following a Super Bowl victory, there was controversy. A few key contributors to the victory – Chris Jacke, Andre Rison, Desmond Howard – were not included in the trip, and tight end Mark Chmura did not attend because he disagreed with then-President Bill Clinton’s politics. This time around, there appears to be no such issues. While departed free agents and players who were released aren’t going, the entire team that is traveling Friday to Cleveland for the preseason game will attend the event – including the rookies and players who weren’t on the team last year. “We will fly from Green Bay to Washington, D.C., we’ll see the President in the afternoon and then we will fly from Dulles airport to Cleveland and we’ll get into Cleveland approximately 7 o’clock Friday night,” McCarthy explained. And the rookies get to be part of everything? “Absolutely. Are we going to make ’em sit on the bus?” McCarthy replied. “It’s not their fault they weren’t here last year. It’s the best that we could do under the circumstances. It’s a business trip and also an invitation to the White House, all in one.”
Injury report: Wide receiver Chastin West, who has impressed so far in camp, suffered an ankle injury and could not finish practice, and defensive tackle Chris Donaldson (collarbone) aggravated a previous injury and came out, too. Tight end Jermichael Finley was held out of practice with what McCarthy termed a “glute contusion” that he said there was “no reason to believe it’s serious.” Kicker Mason Crosby (ankle) did not kick again, but McCarthy said Crosby will kick in practice on Thursday, allowing the team to decide whether it needs to add a kicker for Saturday night. Wide receiver Brett Swain (hamstring), safety Brandon Underwood (knee), cornerback Davon House (hamstring) and offensive linemen Adrian Battles (Achilles’) and Theo Sherman (ankle) remained sidelined. Defensive tackle Eli Joseph (hamstring) finally passed his physical, leaving only linebacker Diyral Briggs (hamstring) on PUP.
Practice schedule: The Packers practice in pads at 7 p.m. at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, weather permitting.
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