Thumbs up: Mike McCarthy has always believed he was wrong in the way he handled his team during his first preseason as Packers coach. He felt he overworked his players before they got run out of the gym in their third game of the 2006 preseason by the Cincinnati Bengals, 48-17. Ever since, he’s been extra careful about rest and recovery.
On Monday, he played it safe with his star quarterback and then cut practice 25 minutes early after a few injuries. While the team has been fortunate with injuries throughout camp, the bumps and bruises have piled up.
“We’re really concerned about where we are physically as a team. There were a couple guys limping through practice today,” McCarthy explained. “We’ll see how tomorrow’s work is. We’re approaching the fourth preseason game as we’ve always traditionally approached it. We’ll make those decisions after practice. I think our team is beat up right now, going from a seven-day week to a night game to a six-day week.
“You just have to trust your instincts. I think we hit the wall. We’ve got a game to play here, and it’s important for a lot of young players in our locker room. So I want to make sure I give them every chance to get ready for that contest to win a job on our football team. … I thought it was time to pull back.”
Thumbs down: It’s infrequent that a position coach at practice gets mad enough to let the expletives fly, but the offensive line managed to do just that with line coach James Campen during an 11-on-11 period Monday. But that wasn’t the worst of it. On the very next play, starting center Scott Wells and No. 3 quarterback Graham Harrell fumbled the snap, with Campen calling for a new center as a result.
Play of the day: For those worried about Greg Jennings’ bruised knee, the Packers star receiver allayed those concerns. After missing Friday night’s preseason win at Indianapolis, he was back to his old self in practice this week, never more so than on a play in 11-on-11 on Monday, when he glided down the sideline past rookie fourth-round pick Davon House for a long touchdown from Matt Flynn.
Camp confidential: While it’s been a preseason unlike any other, McCarthy said his plan is to use the preseason finale as he normally does – to give fringe roster players one final chance to make a statement. To that end, McCarthy used many of his starters on the scout teams in practice Monday. ”You had your No. 1 players working the card teams; there were some good looks today. I thought there were some excellent snaps,” McCarthy said. “I liked the work that was going on.”
In addition, McCarthy said he and general manager Ted Thompson will likely wait until Saturday for many of their final cuts, even though the Packers and Saints open the season earlier than the rest of the league. “You’d always like to maximize the time to go through those decisions. Not to state the obvious, but there’s a lot that goes on in the final 24-48 hours leading up to Saturday,” McCarthy said. “We will take as much time as we can. The players will be off Friday, and then we will work strictly in the building Saturday, later in the day. We will take our time to make those decisions.”
Injury report: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had what McCarthy termed a “foot strain” and was held out of practice, against his wishes according to his coach. Defensive end C.J. Wilson (concussion) finally returned to action. Safety Nick Collins (lower back) and cornerback Josh Gordy (shoulder) were back at practice after sitting out Sunday. Wide receiver Randall Cobb (knee) and tight end Ryan Taylor (hip) dropped out of practice. Remaining on the sideline were wide receiver James Jones, guard Adrian Battles (Achilles’), tackle Chris Campbell (knee), safety Anthony Levine (concussion), defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (concussion), defensive end Mike Neal (knee), linebacker Frank Zombo (scapula) and linebacker K.C. Asiodu (chest muscle strain).
Practice schedule: It’s the last open-to-the-public practice of camp. The Packers’ final practice is Tuesday at Ray Nitschke Field at 11 a.m. in shorts, shells and helmets, weather permitting.
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