Rodgers gets Packers up to speed in practice vs. new defense
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers’ no-look touchdown pass is still the talk of Green Bay Packers training camp.
The defense was called for offsides to give Rodgers a free play during a two-minute drill in practice Thursday. The play was going left. Rodgers was looking left. But he threw the ball to his right.
Touchdown, Geronimo Allison.
The play looks even better on film to coach Mike McCarthy.
“I think you appreciate it more when you watch the video. I know I did, because he spoils you,” McCarthy said Friday. “You don’t have too many practices around here where he doesn’t make that throw where you’re just like, ‘OK, file that onto the library. That’s the way you want to teach it.’”
Packers fans who dared to worry about Rodgers’ seven interceptions during the first five days of camp can breathe easy. The two-time NFL MVP likes how the offense has worked in the first week.
“Well, I’m working on things in training camp. I’m working on throws, whether it’s looking or no-looking. Trying different plays that we we’re working in,” Rodgers said.
A 7-9 finish last season ended a streak of eight straight playoff appearances for the Packers. The offense struggled while Rodgers was out with broken collarbone, and the defense had familiar problems against the pass.
McCarthy overhauled the coaching staff after the season, which included bringing back Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Philbin was the coordinator when the Packers won the Super Bowl in the 2010 season.
“We’ve done a medium overhaul of some offensive concepts, so working on some new stuff and trying to get on the same page with receivers,” Rodgers added.
An added wrinkle for Rodgers is the new looks in practice from coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense. His units have finished in the top 10 in the league when he’s been in charge.
“Well, they’re just so multiple. They have a lot of different pressures and types of pressures,” Rodgers said. “They’re giving you pressures where they can actually get home. We haven’t had that issue in a while, where they scheme pressures to have a free guy on the play.”
It gives the linemen good practice for the regular season, too, since the NFC North-rival Minnesota Vikings are among teams that run pressures similar to what the Packers’ defense is doing now.
“So the protection elements for offense are really challenged by his defense, which is great for us,” Rodgers said.
Getting Bryan Bulaga back will help too. The veteran right tackle was activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list on Friday and returned to practice on a limited basis for the first time since tearing his right ACL in Week 9 last year.
“I am very optimistic about Week 1, I really am,” Bulaga said. “I still have some work to do to get to it but it’s definitely looking better than it did, say, four months ago, even though I thought I’d still get to that point.”
His return would solidify a right side of the line that will already have a new starter at guard. Bulaga is a steady, reliable presence up front who has played in big spots with Rodgers.
“He’s a pro’s pro. He knows how to play the game,” Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, he’s sustained a couple of tough injuries. But when he’s out there, he’s a rock.”
At its best, a starting five with Bulaga gives Rodgers just enough time to get out of trouble and outside the pocket, where the quarterback might be most dangerous.
As he showed with his no-look TD throw to Allison.
NOTES: WR Jake Kumerow, an undrafted free agent in his second year out of Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, continues to impress with his hands and route-running ability. He could be a long shot to make the roster, especially after the Packers drafted three receivers this year. But the 6-foot-4 Kumerow has earned some reps with the first-string offense and caught Rodgers’ attention. “So there’s going to be some tough decisions when the cutdown happens,” Rodgers said. “We drafted three guys, so. If you’re playing today, you’d like him on the field.”