The first open practice of the Packers organized team activites took place on a beautiful day at Ray Nitschke Field Wednesday. Attendance in the voluntary workouts was extremely high. The only players missing were Atari Bigby, Johnny Jolly and Tramon Williams, veterans who haven't signed their restricted free agent tender offers yet. Charles Woodson was in for Tuesday's practice, departed and plans to return for the final three weeks of the OTA's next month. Wide Receiver Shawn Gore from Bishop's University in Canada was also missing. Several players coming off injuries from the 2009 season didn't participate in the practice.
Teaching old dogs new tricks
The defensive line is undergoing a makeover. B.J. Raji is pegged to open the season at nose tackle in the 3-4 front as veteran Ryan Pickett worked exclusively at defensive end. Coordinator Dom Capers likes big bodies on the end with Cullen Jenkins and Jolly manning the position last year. Pickett will have to work on pass rushing skills to become an effective edge player. Both Pickett and Raji will rotate iniside and outside along the line during the course of the season and with the vareity of fronts Capers deploys. Defensive back Will Blackmon, rehabilitating his knee injury from last season, will learn the safety position when he's well enough to return later this summer. Blackmon is also being counted on to handle the return game.
A new QB
The Pack signed Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell Wednesday after he worked out for the team. After leaving the Red Raiders, Harrell played for Saskatchewan in the Canadian Football League and also had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns. There was a report Green Bay released Chris Pizzotti of Harvard, a quarterback who was on the practice squad last year.
Draft picks mixing in
This is the first time the rookies worked with veterans on the practice field. First round pick Brian Bulaga took reps at left tackle behind Chad Clifton. Third round choice Morgan Brunett, the Georgia Tech safety, got some reps with the first team defense. With Bigby not attending, and Derrick Martin using a wheeled cart to keep weight off his booted left foot, Brunett should get plenty of reps in the off-season program.
The players and even McCarthy downplayed a story from Peter King of Sports Illustrated who tabbed the Packers as the early line favorite to win the NFC Title in 2010. McCarthy joked it's only May but its nice to be in the ballpark. Bart Starr also had glowing praise for Aaron Rodgers. Starr was quoted as saying Rodgers "will be a great quarterback" in the NFL. "Kind words," said Rodgers who says Starr is respected more a person than he was as a five time NFL champion quarterback.
Week on, week off
Following Thursday's review practice, the team will take a one week break before returning for the final three weeks of the OTA's in June. McCarthy said this is a change from last year because they thought the team was overconditioned and it may have been a factor in some injuries last season.
Inside the locker room
You can hear what some of the players and McCarthy had to say about the opening week of the OTA's on the link below..