Another training camp week wrapped up today and we got our first look at what the team's new Saturday, day before the game practice is like. I know it's Thursday, but the Packers meet the Oakland Raiders tomorrow (more on that in a minute), and Mike McCarthy has drastically changed his preparation schedule this season. The team will no longer hit the practice field two days before a game, using that time for a brief walk through and film work instead. They've found research said that rest 48 hours before extreme exertion is better, especially with a quick release of energy the day before that exertion. So on Saturdays before regular season games, just like today, the Packers will conduct a fast paced, non-padded practice in about an hour and 15 minutes. They run through specific situations like any other practice, red zone work, no huddle or end of game situations. Mason Crosby may not like that one much. The team had four field goal attempts, pretending all came in the closing seconds of a game, either after an incomplete pass or with the clock running and the unit running on to get the kick away. Crosby made only two of four attempts. It'll be interesting to see if the Friday off, Saturday work and Sunday play schedule pays dividends. It wasn't all high intensity work though. During a special teams drill, some of the boys couldn't resist a little baseball.
T.J. Lang (not pictured) delivered a fastball past batting Derek Sherrod, into the mitts of catcher Josh Sitton and in front of David Bahktiari.
Now on to the game. The Oakland Raiders come to town under head coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie, one of my favorite former Packer Pro Personnel guys. McKenzie knows what he's in for, now in year three of his rebuilding effort. After trying several quarterbacks (Matt Flynn included), he went out and traded for an established veteran in Matt Schaub from the Texans. On defense, he signed two free agents, LaMaar Woodley from Pittsburgh and Justin Tuck from the Giants. Oh yeah, he also signed former Packers recevier James Jones, but he's surprisingly running third on the Raider depth chart behind two third year, undrafted free agents in Andre Holmes and Rod Streater. Oakland has an uphill climb in a division with the reigning AFC champion Broncos, the Chiefs and Chargers.
McCarthy will give the starters a much longer leash in the Lambeau Preseason opener. I don't think Aaron Rodgers will make it through the entire first half, however. The number two job has to be answered soon and it's a pretty good race right now.
What will be more interesting to watch is who, among the second and third stringers, start get sprinkled in with the first team units early in the game. Among the possibilities on offense are Jeff Janis, Jake Stoneburner and Derek Sherrod. On defense, Jayrone Elliot, who wasted St. Louis backups for three sacks, might get a shot against better competition, same for defensive back Jumal Rolle who's been coming on strong at camp.
Another indicator of who will survive the first cut to 75 next Tuesday is noticing who's on the first special teams units. Sam Barrington, Kevin Dorsey and Sean Richardson are all being groomed as corps special teams players.
The injured not expected to dress are Don Barclay, Jared Abbrederis, Letroy Guion, Joe Thomas, Brandon Bostick, Rajion Neal and Colt Lyerla.