GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ 15th practice of training camp from Tuesday:
Thumbs up: Mike Neal is coming on. Whether rushing from the outside linebacker spot or from an interior position in the sub package, the lighter-than-before Neal is still explosive and growing as a pass-rushing threat almost daily. It will be interesting to see how he fares when he, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are all on the field together and playing at maximum speed. On Tuesday, Neal had back-to-back plays with the No. 1 defense while getting after quarterback Matt Flynn. First, he beats tackle Aaron Adams for sack as an outside linebacker. Then, on the next play, he destroyed center Garth Gerhart on inside rush from a down lineman position.
Thumbs down: Datone Jones is trying to prove himself as the team’s 2013 first-round pick, and his effort has been good in camp. But he has to be smarter than what he did Tuesday. On a pass rush against quarterback Scott Tolzien, he chased the quarterback and closed on him just as Tolzien was starting to cock his arm to throw. Foolishly, Jones hit Tolzien’s arm and dislodged the ball. Tolzien clearly wasn’t expecting it, and his arm got caught in an awkward position. Jones, who was scolded by defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, admitted after practice that he wasn’t supposed to do what he did – the quarterbacks are off-limits for all contact, even hitting their arms – and Jones acknowledged his mistake.
Play of the day: Julius Peppers continues to lend more credence to the theory that he’s pacing himself and less to the idea that he’s washed up every day. After recording a quarterback pressure and a tackle for loss during the team’s preseason victory at St. Louis last Saturday, Peppers was very active during the extra-physical half-line drill in practice Tuesday, tossing fullback Ina Liaina aside to stuff running back Michael Hill for a loss.
Camp confidential: With the Sept. 4 regular-season opener fast approaching and the coaching staff looking for every edge it can find, coach Mike McCarthy has altered one aspect of his team’s preparation – the hand signals for the no-huddle offense. For the first time, the Packers are intentionally using different hand gestures during the preseason versus what they’ll use when the games count.
The thought process is two-pronged: They don’t want players who are released as the roster is trimmed from 90 to 53 to know the signals, and they don’t want the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks seeing their signals on film and figuring them out before the big game.
“No huddle is a big part of what we do. To have a set of signals for preseason and a whole different set for the regular season, this is really the first year we’ve done that,” McCarthy said. “So, we just have a lot more going on.
“We’re definitely conscientious of what the first group is doing, how much their doing it and really what we need to get ready for in Seattle because there is such a quick [turnaround for the] game.”
Added quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt: “When you operate in the no-huddle and you have crowd noise, obviously you cannot verbally communicate. So you have to come up with systems to communicate. … There’s a lot of different ways to get that done. The signals, we do a good job of going back on tape, watching game tape, the TV copies, to see what’s out there, as well as studying what we put on tape as far as the coaches’ copies. It’s well-documented, and there’s a plan in place. We’re not worried about it.”
Packers Playlist: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder, "Doin' It Right" by Daft Punk Feat. Panda Bear and "Airplanes" by B.o.B Feat. Hayley Williams were played during the regeneration periods Wednesday. Songs played during 11-on-11 sessions included "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam, "Master Of Puppets" by Metallica, "Vasoline" by Stone Temple Pilots, "Wagon Wheel" by Darius Rucker, "Battle Scars" by Guy Sebastian, "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen, "We Own It (Fast & Furious)" by 2 Chainz Feat. Wiz Khalifa, "Back In The Saddle" by Aerosmith, "Fine Again" by Seether and "5-1-5-0" by Dierks Bentley
Injury report: CB Casey Hayward (preventative) was very limited in practice because of last year’s hamstring injury. “Just being smart with Casey, just because of his history,” McCarthy said. Also, right guard T.J. Lang dropped out of practice after banging his chronically troublesome left shoulder. “[Lang] didn’t seem very concerned about it,” McCarthy said.
Still sidelined were TE Brandon Bostick (leg), RB Rajion Neal (knee), TE Colt Lyerla (knee), LB Joe Thomas (knee), T Don Barclay (knee) and WR Jared Abbrederis (knee). DT Letroy Guion (hamstring) remained on the Non-Football Injury list
They said it: “We’ve got an important few weeks right in front of us. Certainly, the finishing up of the preseason games, also getting ready for the start of the regular season. It won’t be more than a couple of weeks before we’re playing a real game.” – General manager Ted Thompson, on training camp rapidly coming to a close.
Practice schedule: The Packers do not practice Wednesday but will have an open practice Thursday at 10:15 a.m. in advance of their Friday game against the Oakland Raiders.
Return to: Jason Wilde Blog