There was regression in just about everything from the opening day of training camp to the second practice on Ray Nitschke Field. The crowd of railbirds was down, the media throng shrunk considerably too. The level of play at practice itself dipped, Mike McCarthy felt the team was "a little sloppier." The biggest dip of all however, was in the temperature. It was 51 bone chilling degrees when the team took the field Saturday morning. 51! So much for sweating the team into shape.
McCarthy has taken great pains to try and prevent camp injuries this year, even giving the team three TV timeouts, complete with music. The selections today by the way, were Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash and Bob Marley, quite a trio. There are fewer number of team reps to avoid collissions or tie ups. The pads haven't even come on yet. It really doesn't matter. Injuries just happen. Ask wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett. He's already lost three of his guys. Sederrik Cunninghman hurt his wrist on day one and had his arm in a sling today. On the practice field, the two drafted receivers, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, suffered injuries. Johnson tried reaching back for a poorly thrown ball and awkwardly got twisted to the turf. The knee joint got a workout but he was able to come back and at least watch the rest of practice. In the locker room, he told me it wasn't bad but will likely miss a few days. Dorsey also got hurt but McCarthy didn't know the extent after practice. Both rookies missed most of the spring OTA's because of injuries. Taking advantage of the extra reps was Tyrone Walker. The free agent from Illinois State made three catches in four snaps during one team drill.
The offensive line is still getting to know their right side from their left after the off-season musical chairs. The front five appear to have taken hold of their new positions, Bryan Bulaga at left tackle, Josh Sitton at left guard, Evan Dietrich-Smith at center, T.J. Lang at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. The focus today was on a guy who helped out quite a bit after getting thrown into the fire at right tackle last year. When Bulaga went down with the season ending hip injury, undrafted free agent Don Barclay of West Virginia stepped in and stepped up. It was raw at times, but effective. Barclay is still getting reps at right tackle behind Newhouse but McCarthy said today he's a good enough player to compete for a job at another position, one he hasn't played since his freshman year in college, center. Barclay was told about the possibility earlier this year and told me he started working at the positiion in the off-season. He took a few practice snaps in Morgantown early in his career but he's never hiked the ball in a game. Needless to say, there'll be some growing pains. On back to back snaps, Barclay didn't get the ball delivered to the quarterback. He still took all of the reps in a no huddle drill with the first team offense toward the end off practice. McCarthy tried to take Barclay off the hook for the bad snaps saying the play calls required the most detailed footwork possible for a center and Don might not be accomplished enough to handle it. Judging from the way Barclay earned a roster spot the hard way last year, worked his way on to the field, and handled himself as an emergency starter, he's worth watching to improve.
Took time watching and then talking to the running back group. In each of the first two days, draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin have made eye opening plays. James Starks and Alex Green, the returning veterans healthy enough to practice (DuJuan Harris is a week or two away), are embracing the competition. Both vets welcome the rooks, knowing they'll push hard for snaps this fall and that should make the entire group better. Can't wait to see how they all handle themsevles when the pads come on.
NFL teams get up to three hours on the practice field for padded workouts and McCarthy said, "we're gonna max that out." Should be a spirited session Sunday morning at 8:20 AM.