The Packers are taking a less-is-more approach with 36-year-old Julius Peppers this year. He has been taking fewer snaps in 11-on-11 drills this summer, and even in one-on-one pass rushing. By all appearances they’re going to use him primarily as a pass rusher in the regular season. You never know when older players are going to hit the wall, or at least see their performance diminish, but Peppers appears to be holding up fine with help from the lighter workload.
In team drills Monday, Peppers played only with the scout team, which is an indication he might be a healthy scratch this week for a second straight preseason game. But in limited work there he had a couple of good pass rushes, including a likely sack that would have prevented a two-point conversation and a rush in the red zone where he would have had a strip sack of Brett Hundley.
And in the one-on-one pass rushing-blocking period, Peppers had probably his finest rep of camp against starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga is one of the Packers’ most fundamentally sound offensive linemen in pass protection, but Peppers’ fake of an inside rush and move back outside was so effective that it spun Bulaga around.
“I think that was the first one on one I’ve gotten beaten on this year,” Bulaga said after practice. “That was a good move by Pep, I’m not going to take anything from him. He’s one of the best. I’ll watch that and see how bad my feet got messed up on that one, because that was pretty good. Couldn’t say anything besides, ‘That was a good one.’”
Bulaga said he was working on an alternative pass-blocking set, what he called a jump set, on that rep.
“That’s one of my favorite sets to do regardless of who I’m going against, it’s a good change of pace,” Bulaga said. “… He got a good shake on it, and I was pretty sure he was going to try to dip back inside and rip, and he didn’t.”
So let’s pick on a guy who’s had an excellent camp: Mason Crosby.
The Packers’ kicker has been borderline automatic all summer. Going into practice Monday, counting practices and preseason games, he was 33-for-36. That included hitting two 54-yarders Friday night against Cleveland in the Packers’ preseason opener.
So it was momentarily jarring when Crosby went 4-for-6 in a kicking period Monday. One of his misses was wide right from 40 yards with Tim Masthay as the holder, and the other was wide left from 50 yards with Peter Mortell holding.
There isn’t much to make of it. Even Steph Curry misses about one out of every 10 free throws. But Crosby has been so dialed in that to see him miss twice in the span of four kicks was a surprise.
Returning to practice were receiver Ty Montgomery and tackle Kyle Murphy.
Missing practice were outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (illness) and guard Josh Sitton (rest).
Bits and pieces
» There’s a name and punishment for players who fumble during the ball-strip gauntlet, which is basically the entire team slapping at the ball as the runner goes by and with one defender in the middle trying to rip it free. Fumblers are called “violators” and have to run through the blaster machine back-and-forth-and-back, rather than through it only once. Montgomery was a violator Monday.
» Until this week, former West De Pere High School standout Kyle Steuck hadn’t played football in pads since last season at Northern Michigan, and it showed. Steuck just signed with the Packers over the weekend, and during an inside-run period Monday he was decleated on one play by Mike Daniels. He also lost his first two reps Monday in one-on-one pass-blocking reps, to Kenny Clark and Tyler Kuder, before defeating each on his final two tries.
» Pepper Burruss, the Packers’ director of sports medicine administration, missed practice Sunday and Monday after recently having his gallbladder removed. He was back working at the office Monday and is expected to make a full recovery.
Quote of the day
“You’ve seen some guys make some great plays in practice and really jump out. I think Randall (Cobb) has had a phenomenal camp. He’s a veteran guy for us, but he’s been fantastic. Davante (Adams) has made a bunch of plays. (Jared) Abbrederis has been spectacular at times. Like you said, Geronimo (Allison) has made a bunch of plays for us too. So there’s a lot of depth in the receiver and the skill-position room, and it’ll be nice to see what we can do when everybody’s healthy.” – Aaron Rodgers on the Packers’ receiving corps without Jordy Nelson practicing.
The Packers don’t practice Tuesday and have a closed practice Wednesday before their preseason game against Oakland on Thursday. Their next practice open to the public is Monday at 12:15 p.m.