The Green Bay Packers threw a party last night, and 63,047 of their closest friends showed up.
In the annual Family Night scrimmage held at Lambeau Field, fans were given their first opportunity to watch the 2013 Packers practice in a stadium setting. Some players shined in the glare of the Saturday night lights; others revealed major flaws.
Veteran kicker Mason Crosby had a disastrous night, going 3-for-8 on the evening in his battle with newcomer Georgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio managed 6-for-7 on the night. Head coach Mike McCarthy did not sugarcoat his feelings about Crosby’s performance. “He’s definitely got to do better than that, because that’s not going to cut it,” McCarthy said after the scrimmage’s conclusion.
Reserve quarterback B.J. Coleman can thank Crosby for taking some of the glare off of his Family Night performance. During game-like scrimmages against the Packers’ defense, Coleman threw the two worst kinds of interceptions a quarterback can throw: a pick-six and an end-zone interception.
Cornerback James Nixon showed nice anticipation and fast wheels on his Coleman interception, which he took 65 yards to the house. Coleman’s receiver did slip to the turf on the play, but Coleman was guilty of staring down Jeremy Ross, making an interception likely regardless.
On Coleman’s second interception, he again stared down Ross in the corner of the end zone and threw a line-drive pass as he was blanketed by undrafted rookie cornerback Brandon Smith. It was both a poor decision and a poor throw, which probably should have been given some air to allow Ross a chance to fight Smith for the ball.
“He did some good things, but two turnovers were obviously a black eye for B.J. Coleman,” McCarthy said.
Other players showed some real positives. Randall Cobb looked fast and comfortable in the drills. He showed nice speed and separation against Smith on the first drive. Running back James Starks got the start and had a nice gain on the second play of the scrimmage. Alex Green also showed nice vision on a cutback run for 15 yards. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy demonstrated his running ability with several nice runs. Rookie free agent Angelo Pease showed nice, soft hands and a good burst on a touchdown reception. Rookie linebacker Nate Palmer took a bad angle on the attempted tackle.
Tight end D.J. Williams received a lot of work and caught the night’s first touchdown from Aaron Rodgers, who was then done for the evening. Jermichael Finley had a bad drop on the first play of the scrimmage and did not do much else on the night. New veteran free agent Matthew Mulligan reinforced his “blocking tight end” reputation by dropping the first pass thrown his way.
Tight end Ryan Taylor left the field on a cart, which dims the overall view of the event. Several players revealed great progress within the Packers’ offensive and defensive schemes. Others, including Crosby and Coleman, have clearly turned up the pressure on themselves.