Thumbs up: Maybe there’s hope for seventh-round pick Andrew Datko after all. The Packers rookie tackle, who was horrible during his first week of camp, appears to have rebounded. He also struggled early in Thursday night’s preseason-opening loss at San Diego before settling down and doing OK. The same appears to have been the case in camp. He was awful early, but improved gradually and on Saturday looked good enough that the coaches worked him with the No. 1 offense, rotating with Herb Taylor at Marshall Newhouse’s left tackle spot. In one-on-one pass-blocking drills, he stuffed both Jarius Wynn and Mike Neal.
Thumbs down: The Packers just can’t catch a break injury-wise. They had roughly 1/4 of their roster sitting out practice, as 21 players did not participate, and newly signed offensive lineman Reggie Wells was active but limited to individual work only without pads. As a result, coach Mike McCarthy had to dial back practice for the second straight time. Saturday night’s practice ended after just one hour, 35 minutes, after Tuesday’s practice was cut back to one hour, 44 minutes. On top of that, with the team shifting to its in-season schedule on Sunday, McCarthy said he’ll have to keep that practice short, too.
Play of the day: Datko wears No. 77, and so does defensive tackle Daniel Muir. It was a good night for both guys with that number. Muir looked explosive during one-on-one pass-rushing drills, dominating both of his turns. Muir has had a very good camp from the very start, and if he can keep this up, he’ll be back on the roster that he made as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2007.
Camp confidential: While the Packers had not yet reached an agreement with running back Cedric Benson, Wells did see some action in practice Saturday. With the addition of veteran center Jeff Saturday in unrestricted free agency and the defensive line additions of Muir and Anthony Hargrove, it’s been interesting to see how GM Ted Thompson has gone away from his approach of seldom if ever adding older veteran help. McCarthy likes what he sees from Wells in limited exposure. “I think Reggie really fits our profile as an offensive lineman. He’s played all five positions — tackle, guard and has played center,” McCarthy said. “He was impressive in the workout (on Tuesday) as far as the snapping and so forth. He brings us a lot of versatility and we will definitely look at him at guard and potentially tackle.”
Injury report: There were 17 players who did not practice from the active roster: WR Shaky Smithson (ankle), WR Diondre Borel (groin), RB Du’ane Bennett (knee), CB Davon House (shoulder), RB Brandon Saine (hamstring), FB Jon Hoese (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (elbow), RB James Starks (toe), TE Eric Lair (knee), ILB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), G Ray Dominguez (ankle), LT Marshall Newhouse (concussion), TE Ryan Taylor (concussion), WR Greg Jennings (concussion), WR Tori Gurley (groin), TE Jermichael Finley (quadriceps) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee). In addition, the four players who still haven’t passed their physicals remained sidelined: DE Johnny Jones (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), OT Derek Sherrod (leg) and OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring). DE Mike Daniels (knee/groin) was back practicing. OL Mike McCabe (hip) is on season-ending injured reserve and G Jaymes Brooks (hamstring) has been placed on the regular-season PUP list.
Practice schedule: Saturdaywas the final nighttime practice of camp. Practice moves to McCarthy’s in-season schedule on Sunday, with a workout set for 11:15 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field. Practice will be open to the public, weather permitting.
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