Packers Camp Insider: Mike McCarthy shifts practice emphasis

Pete Dougherty
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy watches during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Friday, August 3, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis. 
Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Monday’s takeaways

» In the past several training camps, coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t wasted any time getting to game planning for the preseason opener and in his first practice of the week spent at least a few team periods working on the game plan even though the game doesn’t count in the standings. Not this year.

On Monday, the Packers didn’t run any plays off cards — that’s shorthand for one side of the ball running the opponent’s scheme on scout team, with the players’ assignments drawn on cards shown in the huddle. Instead, the Packers worked their own offense against their own defense in every team period with starters going against each other regularly.

McCarthy had shifted to the early game planning to help give the young players the team is evaluating the best chance to show what they can do. But the emphasis has changed this year, because McCarthy made some significant changes to his offense in the offseason, and more importantly, hired a new defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. So McCarthy decided to take a full extra day to practice only their own schemes.

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“The main emphasis is for our defense to compete against Aaron (Rodgers) as much as possible,” McCarthy said after Family Night practice Saturday. “That really goes back to the interview process. One of the top-five points of emphasis I was looking for in our new defensive coordinator, and speaking with Mike, is to play championship defense against a top-five quarterback.”

McCarthy presumably will do some card work Tuesday to get ready for the Tennessee Titans game Thursday night. Also, some head coaches talk with their counterparts before preseasons games to exchange general outlines of what they will or won’t do in the game, but McCarthy is not one of them. DeShone Kizer, who’s battling Brett Hundley for the No. 2 quarterback job, said that when he was at Cleveland last year, Browns coach Hugh Jackson did talk with the opposing coach.

“Here it’s about understanding the system,” Kizer said. “We want to go in with no idea (what’s coming from the defense), just a little bit of film work before. Obviously (there will be) a game plan for the defense and the style of defense you’re going to (face), but as far as understanding the ins and outs of the D, they want you to go out there and use the system.”

» The Packers have conducted one-on-one pass rushing drills only once this year, so it’s been harder to gauge if any of their outside rushers has improved much over the offseason. But in team drills Monday, Reggie Gilbert had maybe his best practice. That also might have been in part a product of left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle) sitting out practice, too. But Gilbert had a handful of plays where he would have at least had a shot at a sack, including one where he broke free on a stunt.

“I really try not to keep count, (of sacks in practice), I just try to win ever rep possible,” he said. “ I don’t really focus on my wins, I’d rather focus on my losses and what I can do to change those into wins.”

QB watch

Undrafted rookie Tim Boyle has shown an NFL arm but had a rough finish to the two-minute drill he ran early in practice. After moving the ball to the 16 on a screen pass to Joel Bouagnon, Boyle threw four straight incompletions. In an unusual string of plays, he threw three straight times to rookie receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and at cornerback Lenzy Pipkins on fades or corner routes in the end zone. Pipkins had decent coverage and Boyle overshot all three. Then on fourth down he missed Brown on an out pattern.

Bits and Pieces

» Rookie cornerback Josh Jackson received regular snaps in the slot with the No. 1 defense because Kevin King (shoulder) and Jaire Alexander (groin) didn’t practice.

» Mason Crosby went 8-for-8 in a live field goal period, ranging in distances from an extra point to 50 yards. For all of camp 27-for-32.

» New Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer and GM Jon Horst, along with their NBA G League GM, Dave Dean, attended practice. During one of the practice TV timeouts, they went on the field with Packers CEO Mark Murphy to talk to Rodgers, who last season bought a small share of the Bucks.

» The Packers claimed linebacker James Hearns on waivers over the weekend, and he appeared to work exclusively at outside linebacker. There was some question whether the 6-5, 265-pound rookie from Louisville would play inside or outside linebacker.

Injury report

» Seven players missed practice: WR Trevor Davis (hamstring), RB Devante Mays (hamstring), RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), DT Mike Daniels (thigh), CB Alexander (groin), T David Bakhtiari (ankle) and CB King (shoulder).

» S Kentrell Brice (ankle) returned but didn’t take part in team drills. WR Randall Cobb (ankle) returned also.

» FB Joe Kerridge dropped out of practice and in the locker room afterward had ice on his shoulder area.

» LB Jake Ryan (knee) went on IR.

Quote of the day

“It was weird, didn’t really feel bad, just kind of putting some weight into it, and it just told me, ‘No.’ I was kind of worried but should be all right.” — Bakhtiari, on his ankle felt immediately after he injured it in Family Night practice Saturday.

Practice schedule

The Packers’ next session will be Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field.

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