Green Bay Packers rookie tackle Derek Sherrod (78) during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Sunday, July 31, 2011. / File/Press-Gazette
The Packers came into camp excited about first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod possibly starting this year, but after watching their preseason opener Saturday night at Cleveland, Iím not so sure they should be, not as a starter right away.
Sherrod is a natural left tackle playing left guard, and he has a lot of work to do to be a starter in the NFL. I donít think he finishes well. He sometimes stays on blocks for a little bit, but he doesnít block until the whistle. He has the ability to get out to linebackers in the run game, and he has the size and reach and body type to do it, but he just didnít finish blocks against the Browns. He also needs to play with lower pad level and use his hands better, be under control with his hands.
Even in pass blocking he didnít finish and allowed some pressure. This is the easiest thing for him to correct right now, finish his blocks. Theyíll go to the tape and tell him, ĎYou can block longer than you have been.í That part I think will be OK.
What concerns you more is his pad level and hands. He moves his hands well and gets them on people, itís just that his aiming points are off. In pass protection his initial shot, it doesnít slow people down, itís not shocking them, heís giving up too much ground. Some of those things heíll fix, but I donít know if he can play guard. Weíve got a couple more preseason games to see.
I like third-year pro T.J. Lang better at left guard. He was OK Saturday night. They flip-flopped him and Sherrod, left guard and left tackle, obviously trying to get a take on both guys. Lang has a better punch at guard. Things happen at guard a little faster than at tackle, and you have to be there right now. At this point in camp I think Lang is probably the guy.
Newhouse, Schlauderaff look OK
I thought Marshall Newhouse was pretty good Saturday night as a backup tackle. He might be a little better right now than Sherrod. Newhouse gets in trouble when his weight is in front of his toes, he needs to get his weight under him a little more and get his head on a swivel at times.
Sixth-round draft pick Caleb Schlauderaff, a guard, could be all right. He needs to toughen up a little bit, but he certainly can run. Heís a viable candidate for sticking on the roster, without a doubt.
As for backup center Nick McDonald, he might be a smart guy, but I think he needs to be more physical. Whether he can do that or not, I donít know. They like him a lot for some reason, Iím not sure why.
No. 2 defense disappoints on goal line
A play that jumped out at me was Peyton Hillisí three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against the Packersí No. 2 defense.
I know Hillis scores a lot of touchdowns, and you canít take anything away from that guy. But looking at that play, there were a couple problems. Defensive end C.J. Wilson stands up and gets blown out of there. Outside linebacker Erik Walden isnít physical enough, he makes good contact with the fullback and then stops his feet. If he keeps his feet moving and keeps rolling into the hole, thereís not a hole there. Then inside linebacker Robert Francois wasnít downhill enough.
If I were coaching that second team, Iíd be severely disappointed in the lack of effort, lack of intensity, and that play kind of showed it. They didnít finish anything. Everybody just did what they were supposed to do, but no special effort or anything. I know itís the second-team defense, but I wonder if thereís a little Super Bowl hangover, if some of these young guys assume that just because youíre on the Packers, teams are going to roll over.
We havenít seen running back Brandon Saine, an undrafted rookie, get the ball much in practice, but he showed some hands out of the backfield with three catches for 19 yards. They put him in motion once at a slot receiver and he caught the ball, and he caught another ball out of the backfield, those are some of the things you didnít see in camp. He showed a little niftiness. He needs to be a little more aggressive hitting the hole, but his hands are pretty good.
I thought receiver James Jones at one point in the first half had just a horses-crap block. There were about 12 minutes left in the second quarter and on a run play to the outside he just didnít block, stood there and watched the play. I hope thatís not, ĎIím getting $9 million dollars and I donít want to block anymoreí. Hopefully thatís just a preseason game or whatever, and not a sign of something to come.
Frank Zombo maybe had a small edge for the starting job at right outside linebacker going into the game, and I think he took a big step against the Browns. Still plays with a tremendous motor and has a really nice strike at the point of attack. He also looks good coming out of there in pass coverage compared to last year. One of the guys heís competing with, Erik Walden, needs to be a little more physical, and pass coverage might keep him off the field. Early in the second quarter, 30-year-old tight end Ben Watson beat him and caught a 37-yard pass down the seam. I know thatís tough for those outside linebackers running with tight ends, but that was a big catch and led to a touchdown the next play.
Defensive end Lawrence Guy, a seventh-round pick, got stronger as the night went on. In the second quarter he was made contact and stopped his feet, and by the end of the game he was moving his feet on contact and running to the ball.
Backup quarterback Matt Flynn looked like a guy thatís been in the league and this system a while. He took command of the game, the game was coming to him. He didnít have any stupid throws. The offensive line usually helped by giving him at least a few seconds of protection, and when it didnít he stood in there and made the nice throw and took the shot. He showed some poise, some moxie.
No. 3 quarterback Graham Harrell showed some happy feet, and his offensive line didnít do him any favors. He had three fumbles, all on sacks, in part because he kept the ball too far from his body and too low, instead of putting two hands on the ball and keeping it by his shoulders. After being in the league for a year, youíd think some of those things would be cleaned up.
ó Green Bay Press-Gazette correspondent Eric Baranczyk played football at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and later served as an assistant coach. He will provide periodic evaluations of the Packers during training camp.