Thumbs up: Dezman Moses was the darling of the offseason, with strong performances in the organized team activity practices and mandatory minicamp. The question entering camp was whether or not he’d parlay those performances without pads into training-camp success. So far, he has. On Wednesday, Moses had another strong day, registering a sack of No. 3 quarterback B.J. Coleman in an 11-on-11 period, when he blew past undrafted rookie free agent tackle Shea Allard. Then, in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, Moses whipped Herb Taylor and Allard on back-to-back turns before Allard finally stopped him.
“I definitely feel comfortable. Having a good offseason, a good OTAs and minicamp helped me to get in the position I’m in now,” said Moses, who’s been working with the No. 2 defense. “Being comfortable with the defense and knowing where I’m supposed to be, I’m still learning, it’s still a day-by-day process, but I’m just trying to work on little things and get better and better each day.”
Thumbs down: Aaron Rodgers sure isn’t afraid to let James Starks know when he’s unhappy with him, especially if he’s not on point with his pass-blocking. It happened again on Wednesday, just as it has in games over the past two years. During an 11-on-11 blitz period, Rodgers missed second-year wide receiver Randall Cobb on a slant while under pressure, and Charles Woodson picked off the pass. That led Rodgers to jump on Starks, who apparently missed a block on the play. In a recent interview with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, Starks said of Rodgers’ public rebukes: “He’s gotten under me a couple times – (for) missing a block, things like that, things he knows I can do better. That’s his job to do it. I didn’t take offense to it at all. (He’ll) scream at me a little bit – in games and in practice. If he knows I should do something right, he’ll let me know. It’s not embarrassing to me. He’s been there, he knows the ropes, and I’m learning from one of the greatest. I take it as a learning experience.”
Asked how Starks is developing as a blocker, coach Mike McCarthy defended him.
“I think he’s definitely getting better. Physically, he has all the tools to be an excellent pass protector, but he’s a bigger man and when he plays the leverage, he wins,” McCarthy said. “The identification is something that’s always going to be a challenge, particularly for the running backs. We put a lot (of responsibility) on our backs. Our adjustments happen late, particularly this time in camp. If you watch closely, you’ll see those adjustments are being made very deep into the 40-second clock. That’s something that takes experience and patience to get used to, especially at the running back position because he is the last line of defense and there’s things sometimes that need to get sorted out in front of you because football is not played on a board where this guy blocks that guy. Sometimes when people pressure you, the timing of the blitz you might switch responsibilities right at mid-stride. That was a great example of it. There was a lot of different pressure and this will be good tape for all of our guys to learn from.”
Play of the day: It wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, but it sure worked to perfection. Late in practice in an 11-on-11 period, Rodgers threw a dart intended for tight end Jermichael Finley. The ball glanced off Finley’s hands, then off the hands of cornerback Tramon Williams … and right to wide receiver Greg Jennings, who was in the right place at the right time for the completion.
Camp confidential: The morning practices are over, as Wednesday’s was the final practice with an 8:15 a.m. start. And McCarthy, who cut back on nighttime practices last season when players went to him and told him the days were getting too long, knows the later workouts won’t be popular but believes they are useful because of the discombobulated regular-season game schedule the team faces the first four weeks. “It’s not a popular transition, either. I think everybody would rather get up and get going, and get the heavy lifting down in the morning. I think that’s convenient, that’s preferred,” McCarthy said. “Maybe a couple people don’t like the early mornings, but for the most part everybody does. But there’s a reason why we’re doing this.
“I do want the ability to make our players being comfortable, being uncomfortable, getting up in an up-and-down schedule. That’s why we’re transitioning to the night schedule for Thursday and Friday, and still at it on Sunday and work our way down with an afternoon practice. Do that for two weeks and then get into the midseason schedule for the final two weeks of the preseason.”
The players worked until 4 p.m. on Wednesday and then had the night off, McCarthy said. One player happy with the shift? Rodgers.
“I like sleeping in,” he said. “It’s always tough coming from the West coast out here because of the two-hour time difference. It takes a little bit to get used to it.”
Injury report: ILB Desmond Bishop (calf) and FB John Kuhn (knee) passed their physicals and practiced in shells, in accordance with NFL rules. They’ll do so again on Thursday night. WR Greg Jennings (elbow bruise) returned to practice. WR Tori Gurley (groin) dropped out of practice. DT Ryan Pickett (knee bruise), RB Marc Tyler (shoulder), WR Curenski Gilleylen (quadriceps) and DE Mike Daniels (knee/groin) all sat out after dropping out of practice Tuesday with injuries. TE Eric Lair (knee) and OT Mike McCabe (hip) remained sidelined. Five players still haven’t passed their physicals and remained sidelined: G Jaymes Brooks (hamstring), DE Johnny Jones (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), OT Derek Sherrod (leg) and OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring). When asked when Sherrod might be cleared, McCarthy replied, “I don’t see it this week, for sure. He’s doing everything he possibly can. The training staff feels very good about him, so at what point in training camp? They haven’t really given me that answer yet.”
Practice schedule: The Packers shift to nighttime practices, with a workout in full pads on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Ray Nitschke Field, weather permitting.
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