Camp Insider: Red-zone offense clicks

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field July 29, 2016.

It was a heavy day of red-zone action Saturday and it gave the offense and defense a good chance to size each other up after a week of camp. After driving 60 yards for a touchdown in the two-minute drill, the offense couldn’t get the snap off without jumping offside and when it was able, the receivers were not getting open. Kind of a theme from a year ago. But something clicked at the end of a blitz drill and into the second red-zone period. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit receiver Geronimo Allison at the pylon for a short touchdown and then Jared Abbrederis made a diving catch crossing the end zone for another. In the red zone, Rodgers hit Davante Adams on a post route for a touchdown and Abbrederis leaped high and took the ball away from linebacker Joe Thomas in the back of the end zone for another on back-to-back plays. Rodgers had all day to throw to James Starks for a short score and then Randall Cobb ran a seam route between defenders for another touchdown. There still were too many false start penalties off of hard counts but only one was by a starter, so the No. 1 offense was pretty clean. “They attacked our defense,” cornerback Micah Hyde said. “You have someone like No. 12 and it’s tough. They did a good job executing the offense.”

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The defense would have had a much better day if it could hold onto the ball. Throughout most of camp balls have been sailing through the hands and the arms of Packers defenders. Sam Shields had a legitimate pick of Rodgers, but the two other interceptions this camp weren’t much to speak of. Morgan Burnett jumped in front of fourth-string quarterback Marquise Williams’ stare down of a receiver and cornerback Randall Jette cradled a tipped pass. On Saturday, cornerback Quinten Rollins made a beautiful break on a Rodgers (Aaron) to Rodgers (Richard) shot down the middle and got both hands on the ball. However, Richard Rodgers got his hands on the ball a second later and ripped it out of Rollins’ hands for a catch. Later Abbrederis took another pass out Thomas’ hands in the back of the end zone. There have to be a half dozen plays in camp where DBs are pounding the turf with their fists because they let interception opportunities slip through their fingers. There’s a reason corners and safeties are on defense, so it’s not unusual for there to be some drops, but if this defense wants to be good, it’s going to have to hang onto the ball a little better.

Injury report

LB Manoa Pikula (hamstring) sat out. TE Mitchell Henry (cramping) returned.

Bits and pieces

» Tim Masthay had a terrific day punting with the wind. He averaged 54.7 yards per attempt with good hang time on all of them. Peter Mortell didn’t fare so well. He connected on punts of 53 and 62 yards and then shanked a pair that each went around 28 yards.

» Receiver Jeff Janis caught a short touchdown pass from Brett Hundley, but one of the NFL officials on hand to work practice threw a flag on Janis for pushing off cornerback Demetri Goodson.

»  Linebacker Julius Peppers is definitely taking fewer reps in practice, but he didn’t look rusty on one red zone play. Peppers blasted right past guard Lane Taylor for what would have been a sure sack of Rodgers.

» Cornerback LaDarius Gunter got a long look at left corner ahead of Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall. Gunter has had a solid camp and has expanded his game to include playing in the slot.

» Guard Lucas Patrick is playing with a padded club around his right hand.

» Backup tight ends Justin Perillo and Mitchell Henry got blasted in the run game on plays not very far apart. First Nick Perry jacked Henry into the backfield and got Eddie Lacy behind the line of scrimmage and then Lerentee McCray stood up Perillo and forced John Crockett to get tackled behind the line of scrimmage.

Quote of the day

“Obviously, I know what’s at stake and what could happen, but I’m just showing up every day, trying to get better and whatever happens, happens. Simple as that.” – Janis.

Practice schedule

The Family Night practice Sunday at Lambeau Field begins at 6:25 p.m.

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