Packers Camp Insider: Defense doing better job tackling
When Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy reflects on the entirety of training camp, he might find himself most pleased with the game-to-game tackling improvement from the starting defense. What had been a debacle against the Philadelphia Eagles — 16 missed tackles — was cleaned up for the second exhibition game in Washington. Then, on Saturday, the Packers took another step forward against the Denver Broncos. Leading the way was cornerback Damarious Randall, whose tackling was almost nonexistent late last season due to injury. Randall had five tackles in the first half alone, four of which were solo efforts. His best moment was a big hit on wide receiver Jordan Taylor, a huge presence at 6-5, 210 pounds. Randall blew up a quick wide receiver screen by stonewalling Taylor for no gain. Aside from Randall, defensive end Mike Daniels proved to be a handful up front. Daniels bowled over guard Max Garcia to pressure quarterback Trevor Siemian and force an incompletion. Later, Daniels got low to turn the corner on guard Ron Leary to swarm Siemian for a sack. Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell continued to show his value on special teams with a forceful tackle on the very first punt return. Fackrell flew down the field and stopped return man Isaiah McKenzie in his tracks for a 3-yard gain.
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INSIDER: Defense doing better at tackling
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Without right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who injured his ankle earlier this week, the offensive line was always going to be a focal point Saturday night, especially with quarterback Aaron Rodgers receiving his heaviest work load of training camp. The results were fairly disappointing. Tackles Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs took turns filling Bulaga’s spot with the starting linemen, and Murphy got the first call, just as he did in practice. Murphy appeared to hold his own in the first and second quarter, but Spriggs struggled once again. Spriggs fell victim to the spin move of outside linebacker Von Miller and allowed an 11-yard sack on third down to kill a promising drive. Later, Spriggs was knocked on his backside by defensive end Shelby Harris. The pressure from Harris forced quarterback Brett Hundley to find running back Jamaal Williams on a short checkdown on third and 19. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari had an uncharacteristic performance as well. Bakhtiari and Spriggs both jumped early to earn a false start penalty in the second quarter, and Bakhtiari was flagged for holding on the very next play. Murphy’s lone mistake was a whiffed block on fourth and 1 with Hundley sneaking up the middle. The miss resulted in a turnover on downs. Backup guard Justin McCray also gave up a sack.
Outside linebacker Nick Perry dropped out of the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. He remained down after several players converged to stop a running play. Perry ultimately walked off the field under his own power with a slight limp.
Jayrone Elliott, another outside linebacker, dropped out with a back injury in the second quarter. Elliott failed to complete either practice this week due to back spasms.
Backup center Lucas Patrick was being evaluated for a concussion after being helped off the field in the fourth quarter, the team announced. McCray slid over from guard to handle the center duties.
The Packers had a number of players who did not dress for Saturday’s game due to injury: cornerback Davon House (hamstring), safety Jermaine Whitehead (hip), cornerback Demetri Goodson (knee), running back William Stanback (hamstring), outside linebacker Vince Biegel (foot), inside linebacker Jordan Tripp (concussion), offensive lineman Don Barclay (ankle), right tackle Bulaga (ankle), defensive tackle Montravius Adams (foot) and defensive end Dean Lowry (knee) all did not play.
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Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (knee soreness) was a late scratch as well. His knee injury is believed to be minor.
Bits and pieces
» Safety Kentrell Brice flashed some of his athleticism with a 40-yard interception return in the first quarter. Brice played center field on a wild pass from quarterback Trevor Siemian that sailed over the head of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Brice returned the ball all the way to the Denver 2-yard line, and running back Ty Montgomery punched it in for a touchdown.
» After Broncos running back C.J. Anderson scored a 16-yard touchdown, the Packers were called for three penalties on the ensuing kickoff. Safety Josh Jones, wide receiver Geronimo Allison and guard McCray were all flagged for holding.
» Rodgers played the first two series Saturday to conclude his exhibition season. He completed three of five passes for 12 yards against Denver. His final numbers from two exhibition games were as follows: 9-of-13 for 49 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers will not play in the fourth exhibition game against the Los Angeles Rams.
» Kicker Mason Crosby took advantage of the thin Colorado air to drill a 52-yard field goal for the Packers’ first points of the game.
The Packers’ final public practice is set for 11:45 a.m. Tuesday at Ray Nitschke Field.