Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy practice the pitchout. Jim Oxley photograph

This week at Green Bay Packers training camp

Pads are on, as we move out of the turnstile, into the 2014 NFL and Green Bay Packers pre-season.

All the horses are out, and these monsters are flying … The Green Bay Packers have begun their drive for the Lombardi Trophy. The contracts are signed, and they all are on the same page, to make things go their way this season, and you can catch the feeling from the work they do and the talk they talk.

This feeling permeates through the training facility, on news clips, or on the media of your choice. The tempo is up and up. Some camps might have a few complaints or this and that kind of problem between personalities, but it is not apparent in the Packers camp. The word is that there is a focus on winning, the Packers way. That way is a little better, a little extra, thought out, worked on, and improved to be better than the competition.

These guys are on a mission, it’s all for one and one for all. Not a soul on the team has complaints, and that spells unity. All too often, all the hard work gets a stick in the spoke, from one dissatisfied person making complaints that spread malcontent, taking the focus away from the team, and we all know how things can go downhill from that.

Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Bits & Pieces

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy gave several interviews during the past week, and seems to agree with the players that things are looking good. The team has been working hard at getting back in shape for the season once more, and they continue that goal.

Mike Daniels … If the talk is indicative of the play we’ll be in for when game time comes around, this team cannot lose. I have only heard one thing that was a little out of line, and that was Mike Daniels explaining how working hard now in the combo-drills will put things right for when the team starts playing opponents.

Mike Daniels has taken on the responsibility of a team defensive leader, and players around him are listening. Last week he wanted to fight anyone missing an assignment, what’s it going to be next week with him? He’s a colorful man, and when it comes time to top the offense, he’s a mean machine popping his gears in the face of the ball handler.

This kind of strong demeanor is geared to winning. Listen to him and you will hear the word “win” or “winning” a few times a minute. That kind of sportsmanship is a big plus for the Packers, who haven’t had a “Reggie” kind of leader since there was Reggie. It starts with being a talker, on the up and up, and it ends in victory.

So many times the right word at the right time can make a world of a difference to a teammate, and while his head coach praised his progress, those around him have no choice but to listen. One-Hundred percent is what Daniels brings and expects of his teammates. If it’s not going that way for someone, Mike will let them know, in a constructive, playful manner, it’s all for one and one for all with the Packers defense.

[Pullquote]Eddie Lacy … is humble as a preacher, and runs like a tornado, with a great fighters punch.[/pullquote]

Eddie Lacy … Eddie Lacy thinks he’s a decent ball catcher, and is well aware that the team wants him to be available to do just that. The work Eddie has done last season was the best a running back has come on since Donny Anderson, who tore holes through every defense he faced. Lacy has a little different look about him. He doesn’t tear holes in every enemy defense he faces. Lacy plows them over, like a bowling ball with its impending punishment. Look out NFL, this kid’s the real deal. He’s humble as a preacher, and runs like a tornado, with a great fighters punch.

Eddie Lacy and Mike McCarthy are on the same page with Lacy doing more work catching the ball. Last season, when the run returned to Green Bay, it almost seemed like the Packers had ditched most running plays. When the reports came out the coach was planning on the balanced attack, I couldn’t help but think the game has changed so much with near 30 offenses designed after the West Coast that more than 35 or 40 percent runs will seem to be a detriment.

After all, the pass game averages nearly twice as far per play than the run and in many cases more than twice as much. Bringing Lacy into the passing game is a new tool. It’s like parachuting a tank onto the middle of the battlefield, in comparison to sending Lacy out for a short pass.

Running back DuJuan Harris
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Running backs … Perhaps this is MM’s new plan for the season. Having more passing production out of the backs, or one featured pass-catching back, causes a need to rethink defenses.

They must adapt to an extra threat this way. If so, this seems more in touch with this generation’s game. It’s knock-out football in Green Bay with DuJuan Harris ready to excel after injuries cut him back last season. He has more to prove now, and a chip on his shoulder to show the league just how dangerous he can be in a backfield.

Both backs can bust a 20-some yard run through a small hole in no time flat. Look to hear “the best backfield in the NFL” for these two monsters. Even if as Eddie Lacy was speaking about the combos, the defense is slanted for an advantage, when gametime comes, without that extra weight of the combo, things will be easy for the running backs.

If both remain healthy, it’s no far out thought to think they both can be capable of 1,000 yard years on the ground. They’re looking good.

Oh, and don’t forget about James Starks … he will no doubt add another dimension to the Packers run game.

Family Night … The players seem to love the combo-drills at this year’s training camp, used to get the rust out and sharpen skills. If the re-aligned defensive backfield can put the brakes on the Packers passing attack, not too many teams will play their best against the Packers. Family night will be different this year, with combo drills instead of the long tradition of a offense versus defense scrimmage.

The combo drill will give the fans more of what the team is doing by pitting one Packer against another. Family night will be number seven of 15 practices in pads this year, which will take us into the first pre-season game. Some may think a practice for what used to be a paid scrimmage? The people won’t want to pay to see a practice. Only in Green Bay, it’s guaranteed to sell out.

As few as two units, like the defensive line versus the offensive line make for a combo. They pit one Packer against the opposite Packer from offense to defense. The receivers against the D-backs or add the offensive backfield and linebackers to the linemen. I wouldn’t be surprised if McCarthy calls for complete offense and defenses to take a possession before it’s over.

Coach McCarthy contends that this way, folks who want to see more of the new young faces or those picked up on free agency, it wii give a chance for the team to work more players rather than one unit at a time in a live scrimmage.

McCarthy himself is smiley and upbeat at this time of the practice season. He must be seeing players going all-out, or we’d hear about it along with those who were not up to standards. And the Packers do have a set of standards near the peak of the NFL’s best. McCarthy explained how there are three basics in coaching.

The basic fundamentals of football can be explained this way: 1) Blocking, 2) Tackling, and 3) Ball Security.

However, the Packers have added two more fundamentals that the best teams need to have, and that makes a total of five, in explaining the basics. The other two are 4) Pursuit & Finishing and 5) Big Play Production.

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen the new dynasty of top teams emerge from Green Bay, thank the football gods. That extra effort comes from doing many things to an added dimension. That is how this team came to be back in the tradition of champions.

Why else is Green Bay called “Titletown”?

DSC_0621

Next Packers Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 2828 Sep1:00at Chicago BearsBuy Tickets

Tags: Green Bay Packers Training Camp

comments powered by Disqus