A different day produced a different star on defense.
Safety Morgan Burnett seized the role from cornerback Davon House by turning in an eye-popping performance on Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday morning. In a succession of big plays during a team drill, Burnett leaped high to knock away a deep pass intended for Jordy Nelson, followed that with a pick-six interception, and then capped the period by helping force a fumble by running back Alex Green.
“Morgan is clearly one of our young players stepping to the forefront,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’ll be someone they’re talking about around the league. I believe he’ll have that kind of season.”
Burnett will clearly be the subject of the media’s reports from Tuesday’s practice, which was conducted on another picture-perfect Green Bay day. If only January was July.
The Packers used the warm, dry conditions to flash their high-tech pass offense, but a much-improved pass defense continued to hold its own. Whereas last year’s training camp produced a deluge of touchdown passes, a camp in which everyone from Greg Jennings to undrafted rookies Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley were star performers, this year’s camp has been more evenly contested.
Leave it to Donald Driver to produce a breakout drill for the offense, as Driver kick-started a strong red-zone performance for the offense by beating House for a touchdown. Driver followed that play with a touchdown catch on a perfect toss by Aaron Rodgers over cornerback Jarrett Bush’s out-stretched arms, and then wide receiver Randall Cobb got into the act with an easy touchdown grab.
It might’ve been the offense’s highlight drill of camp, and it might’ve been the drill McCarthy had in mind when he said: “Practice is starting to look the way it’s supposed to. I thought we got better today.”
Driver’s performance clearly sent a message that the old pro still has young legs. He’s performed as well as any receiver in camp, and he was the group’s top performer on Tuesday.
“Donald is so consistent,” McCarthy said. “That’s one of the things you always admire about Donald. He’s one of the toughest players to ever come through these doors. He’s the all-time pro. He’s what you’re looking for.”
The Packers would seem to be getting better on both sides of the ball. House’s quick start earned him a spot on the No. 1 defense, replacing Bush at cornerback, and defensive end Jarius Wynn opened the big-play production midway through Tuesday’s practice by sniffing out and intercepting an intended screen pass.
For the first time in training camp, practice did not include a highlight moment by House, but McCarthy acknowledged the second-year cornerback’s effort to date.
“There are no starting jobs being won today, but some players are performing better than others. House is definitely an improved player from last year. I really like what Davon is doing. He’s extremely physical. You can see him being more confident. (Coach) Joe Whitt is doing an outstanding job pushing those corners, especially with the tackling drills,” McCarthy said.
Tight end Jermichael Finley was back in full pads after missing time with a concussion. Defensive linemen Ryan Pickett (knee bruise) and Mike Daniels (knee, groin) were getting looked at after practice. Jennings continued to miss time with a sore elbow and McCarthy said Jennings might return to action on Wednesday, and linebacker Desmond Bishop (calf) and fullback John Kuhn (knee) are hopeful to be cleared to practice by the end of the week. Related links