Green Bay Packers hit paydirt with no huddle

Aug. 13, 2011

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the first quarter of Saturday night's game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. / Jason Miller/Getty Images


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Remember the last time the Packers worked on their no-huddle offense?

It was in practice on Wednesday, and it was a disaster.

Aaron Rodgers was just 3-of-6 passing during that period, which ended with an interception by cornerback Sam Shields on a badly underthrown ball intended for Jordy Nelson near the goal line.

Coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin went back to the no huddle on the second series of Saturday’s preseason game at Cleveland. This time, it worked perfectly.

After James Starks opened the series with a 5-yard run, the Packers went to the no huddle with three receivers, a running back and a tight end. Rodgers completed all five of his passes on the drive, and the Packers overcame a holding penalty on center Scott Wells. The beauty of the no-huddle is that it makes it difficult for the defense to make substitutions, and the Browns couldn’t match the Packers’ personnel in time to slow them down.

Rodgers finished the drive with a textbook back-shoulder throw to Greg Jennings for a 21-yard touchdown.

Matt Flynn then performed well in the two-minute situation, leading a touchdown drive from his own 11-yard line with 1:49 remaining in the second quarter.

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The last time we saw the Packers play without two of their top-three cornerbacks, it was in Super Bowl XLV.

Back then, they managed just fine without Shields and Charles Woodson.

That wasn’t the case against the Browns.

Their replacements, Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee, made Cleveland’s starting quarterback, Colt McCoy, look like an All-Pro.

On the Browns’ opening drive, McCoy didn’t throw at the only Packers’ starting cornerback in the game, Tramon Williams, and instead attacked Bush and Lee.

Lee gave up two completions, including a 27-yard touchdown to Joshua Cribbs. Lee had decent position on Cribbs but never turned to locate the ball, making for an easy play for Cribbs.

In the third quarter, Lee badly missed an open-field tackle on a swing pass to Jordan Norwood from backup quarterback Seneca Wallace.

Bush, who had an interception in the Super Bowl, also gave up two completions on the opening scoring drive.

The Packers almost always rest Woodson in the first and last preseason game, and Shields got hurt on the last play of practice on Thursday, forcing Bush and Lee to play into the third quarter.

Did you notice?

• Marshall Newhouse had the second-best record among offensive linemen in the one-on-one pass rushing drill the first two weeks of practice, when he went 17-1. But he gave up a sack in the first quarter, when defensive end Jayme Mitchell took advantage of Newhouse, who was playing right tackle and was slow to get out of stance.

• Rookie tight end Ryan Taylor was on the No. 1 kickoff return team, the No. 1 kickoff team and the No. 1 punt team. He was the only rookie on the return team. Two other rookies, tight end D.J. Williams and linebacker D.J. Smith, also were on the kickoff team.

• Rookie Derek Sherrod and T.J. Lang flip-flopped between left guard and left tackle for much of the first three quarters.

• Second-year defensive end C.J. Wilson, who has struggled in camp, had a chance to make a tackle for a loss in the second quarter but missed former Packers running back Brandon Jackson.

• Tim Masthay had five solid punts for averages of 52.2 yards (gross) and 40.2 yards (net) and 4.48 seconds of hang time. He had one punt inside the 20, an Aussie-style kick that was downed at the 7.

• Third-string quarterback Graham Harrell had three fumbles, two on sacks and another on a botched center exchange. Rookie tackle Theo Sherman recovered two of them.

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