Thumbs up: Aaron Rodgers joked about his less-than-terrific history at Family Night, from his rough debut as the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008 – with his predecessor watching from a suite above – to his first-pass interception that then-rookie cornerback Brandian Ross returned for a touchdown to start last year’s scrimmage. But on Friday night, he was on point. Unofficially, Rodgers completed 7 of 9 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, without an interception. It continued what had been seven pretty good practices for the reigning NFL MVP. “It’s great to be with the crowd. Family Night is a special night,” Rodgers said. “(It’s) fun (with the) signs and seeing the kids out there – it’s a unique experience. It’s more fun when you don’t throw any interceptions. It was a good night for us. It’s practice situations, so you don’t take a whole lot from it, try not to get too disappointed if you don’t play well. We did some good things out there.”
Thumbs down: If the replacement officials who worked the scrimmage are any indication, it could be an interesting preseason – and a troubling regular season if the NFL and its locked out referees don’t reach an agreement soon. They were booed for flagging the No. 1 offense for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration when every player did a Lambeau Leap following James Starks’ touchdown run, but that wasn’t that big of a deal. While the Packers gave them plenty of flag-throwing practice with pre-snap penalties, the officiating appeared up-and-down. "I mean, it's different. They're new guys. They come from all over the country – Lafeyette, (La.); (Washington), D.C.; Madison; Chicago. So I didn't ask them how much time they spent together. Really, it's different because of what we're trying to accomplish. We're in a scrimmage, we're trying to hit situations and there's substitution things so the flow of the game, it probably wasn't the best experience for them to work and get ready. But once again, I think one of the best things a good officiating crew can do is communicate with you. And when they're doing that, everybody's trying to get it right. So it's different, for the fact that you usually know the guys and you have some type of rapport. I've been in the league, this is my 20th year in the league, but we'll see what happens."
Play of the day: Greg Jennings was terrific during Thursday night’s practice, and it clearly carried over to his limited snaps in the scrimmage. While there were a handful of nifty catches – one by veteran Donald Driver, another by tight end Jermichael Finley – Jennings’ was the best of the bunch and the only one that went for a touchdown. Running down the middle of the field against last year’s Family Night hero, Ross, Jennings plucked a low throw from quarterback Aaron Rodgers from just above the Lambeau Field turf for a 33-yard touchdown.
Camp confidential: Kicker Mason Crosby, who went into the scrimmage having made every field goal he’d attempted during live periods of practice, finally missed a kick – and wound up missing three of them in live sessions before attempting 50-plus and 60-plus yarders without a rush. But Crosby, who was terrific last year (24 of 28 on field-goal attempts) after hitting a rough patch midway through the 2010 season, wasn’t just trying long kicks for fun. There was actually a method to the long-distance madness: Checking out the newly created wind currents caused by the south end zone construction, which has enclosed that end of the stadium.
“You have to admit, our stadium's a little different than the last time we played in it,” McCarthy said. “So, the wind's different. We've been studying the wind throughout training camp and we'll continue to do so. I mean, any time you have that type of additions to your stadium, it's going to change the path and the way the winds come into Lambeau, particularly the south end zone. That's something that we cannot get enough practice at. It was good. There wasn't a big breeze tonight, but I felt we got some information just in the pregame and (special teams coordinator) Shawn Slocum's been spending a lot of time, a lot of extra time, making sure, particularly with the weather, checking the wind every day and seeing what the difference that the south end zone structure makes."
Injury report: LT Marshall Newhouse (undisclosed) left the scrimmage with team physician Dr. John Gray and did not return after heading to the locker room. Of the five players who left Thursday night’s practice with injuries – G Ray Dominguez (ankle), S Sean Richardson (thumb), TE D.J. Williams (back), OLB Brad Jones (knee) and FB Jon Hoese (hamstring) – only Richardson took part on Friday night. ILB Desmond Bishop (calf) and FB John Kuhn (knee) donned pads for pre-scrimmage warmups but did not take part in anything else, as did RB Marc Tyler (shoulder). WR Tori Gurley (groin), DE Mike Daniels (knee/groin), TE Eric Lair (knee) and OT Mike McCabe (hip) did not participate. The five players who still haven’t passed their physicals remained sidelined: G Jaymes Brooks (hamstring), DE Johnny Jones (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), OT Derek Sherrod (leg) and OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring).
Practice schedule: The players are off on Saturday and return to regular practice on Sunday night. They’ll be in full pads at 7 p.m. at Ray Nitschke Field, weather permitting.
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