Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights training camp.
1. RB Starks having strong camp. Starks continued what coach Mike McCarthy termed “a very good camp” with another strong day, including one of the best runs of camp thus far. Working in a short-yardage 11-on-11 period, Starks accelerated through a hole between left guard T.J. Lang and left tackle Derek Sherrod and blew through the defense en route to a 40-plus yard run. “I think he’s just as explosive as he was in the playoffs last year,” McCarthy said. “I think he looks more powerful.”
2. ROLB competition has Walden favorite? In the three-way battle between Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Brad Jones at ROLB has taken a turn in Walden’s favor. Walden has been the most dynamic of the three, throwing his body around with reckless abandon and making life miserable for the team’s left tackles. Walden still needs to develop better pass rush moves, but when he rushes it’s with force. And he has consistently played well against the run, stacking the line of scrimmage by getting under the tackle’s pads and giving him a good shot. Walden also has shown his versatility by dropping into coverage and had outstanding coverage.
3. Linebacker depth issue. A lack of depth at inside linebacker hasn’t been too much of an issue so far. Robert Francois showed decent range in coverage again. Then Cardia Jackson may have supplied the unit’s play of the day. Jackson stayed with Randall Cobb on a drag and stepped in front of the rookie to pick off Matt Flynn.
4. Wilson struggles. If defensive end C.J. Wilson doesn’t pick up his play, he’s going to be in danger of losing his spot on the roster. Wilson had a bad day in one-on-one pass rush drills. In the first week of practice, he’s been nothing more than a guy playing the run. The Packers are looking for a player to team with B.J. Raji in the middle on third downs. While second-year pro Mike Neal is the favorite, someone else is going to have to emerge to back up both.
5. K Crosby starting another poor early camp. Crosby went 4 of 8 on his field goal attempts missing from 45, 53, 49, and 53 and hitting from 37, 37, 42, and 45. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Crosby’s early struggles were “to be expected.” “I know what the numbers are,” McCarthy said. “That’s a little bit of a rough day from a statistics standpoint. That’s why we practice. That was Mason’s first live opportunity.
6. Offense looking sharper. QB Aaron Rodgers hooked up with Jordy Nelson on a designed rollout bomb. Catching the pass over Josh Gordy, Nelson could have scored in an actual game. The first-team offense in general was much sharper Friday. With Jennings out, Donald Driver made several grabs.
6. Practice schedule: Saturday, Packers conduct annual Family Night Scrimmage at Lambeau Field f at 6:30 p.m.