GREEN BAY—Give credit to the Packers offensive line for having a sense of humor.
Asked about the challenge in Saturday’s preseason game of facing the St. Louis Rams’ highly touted defensive front – Head Coach Mike McCarthy called it “the highlight of their football team” – left guard Josh Sitton and left tackle David Bakhtiari both had pretty good lines.
“On paper, they should kill us, you know?” Sitton said.
Quipped Bakhtiari: “Our joke is they have first-rounders all across the board, so Bryan should be the only one able to block them.”
They were referring to the fact the Rams’ front four of ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn plus tackles Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald were all first-round draft picks, while Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga will be Green Bay’s only first-rounder across from them. The rest of the Packers’ starting line – Bakhtiari, Sitton, right guard T.J. Lang and center JC Tretter – were all fourth-round selections.
It’s just a preseason game, so the snaps will be limited and without the intensity of a real game, but if there can be a measuring stick in August for the unit McCarthy has praised as the most consistent throughout training camp, this will be it.
“It will be a good test for us up front to see where we’re at right now,” Lang said. “Last week we only had eight plays against Tennessee in those kind of conditions, and we’ve really been going against ourselves the last couple weeks.”
All that Packers vs. Packers work boiled over on Wednesday into by far the most heated and spirited workout through 2 ½ weeks of camp.
Linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who took the place of a resting Brad Jones (dental work) with the No. 1 defense, was the primary instigator in what turned into a major scrum during the half-line run drill. Emotions were such that Linebackers Coach Winston Moss and Offensive Line Coach James Campen shouted intensely at one another, which only fired up both sides more.
“I loved it. I loved it,” Lang said. “Our coaches, those guys have been around football their whole lives, and they know what it’s like to be a player. They never lose that spark. As a player, when you see two coaches getting into it, it lets you know they care, man. They’re passionate, just like we are.
“I thought it was great. I thought it was a good spark for our team.”
Other skirmishes after the whistle took place throughout the rest of practice as well, and while some of them became a distraction, McCarthy didn’t seem to object too much, calling Wednesday’s “physical practice” one “that we needed.”
According to receiver Jordy Nelson, who practiced for the second straight day after sitting out Monday due to his hamstring, the time for that type of workout had come due.
“We knew it was going to happen,” Nelson said. “They juiced us up a little bit in the meeting room. It was no surprise. Part of it. We’ll all move on. It’s probably the last time you’ll see it. It’s our last hard, grinding day out there.
“There was definitely method to the madness.”
With two short weeks of camp to go following Saturday’s second preseason game, practices will start getting scaled back next week. The Packers also have a quick turnaround following their preseason finale on Aug. 28 – just one week leading up to the Kickoff Opener in Seattle on Sept. 4, rather than the usual 10 days before a traditional Sunday opener – so that factors into the remainder of the schedule as well.
“This week’s preparation, what we were able to do the last three days, I want to see it carry into the game Saturday,” McCarthy said.