The weather was great but the crowd was down at the Packers annual Family Night scrimmage at Lambeau Field. 44,844 turned out to watch Oneida tribal dancers, a trampoline act, young dancing girls, fireworks and yes, the scrimmage. Here's a rundown of the notable performances in all three phases.
On offense, Jermichael Finley continues to be a matchup nightmare. The third year pro's expectations continue to soar after he led the team with 4 catches for 55 yards and a 14 yard touchdown catch from Aaron Rodgers on the night's second series. Finley beat both linebackers and defensive backs who tried to cover him. Jordy Nelson had the best catch of the night, a 27 yarder over the middle but he landed hard, got the wind knocked out of him and was done for the evening. Rodgers finished 9 of 14 for 127 yards but in his lone two minute drill, failed to get the offense into the end zone. A 4th and 5 pass from the 9 for Brett Swain crossing the middle was off target. Matt Flynn was 5 of 10 but was sacked twice and threw two interceptions. Graham Harrell completed just 1 pass in 4 attempts. The running game struggled, only 12 yards on 10 carries for the offense and Ryan Grant was dumped for a loss of 4 on third and one from the 5 in the aforementioned two minute drive.
The defense really shined. Brandon Underwood and Sam Shields each returned interceptions for touchdowns. Underwood picked off a hook route thrown by Flynn and returned it 31 yards untouched for the score. Rookie free agent Sam Shields was even better when on the final snap of the scrimmage, jumped a route run by Chastin West and picked off Flynn at the 2 yard line. After running to his left and up the sideline, Shields cut across the grain and raced 98 yards for the score. The starting defense, working against the number 2 offense, didn't give up a first down. AJ Hawk recorded a sack and also made the play on Grant's failed run in the two minute drive of the number one offense. Brad Jones also made nice plays against the run. Jarrett Bush and Charlie Peprah each had big hits to knock balls out of receiver hands.
Special teams also got a lot of work with Brandon Jackson delivering a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Mason Crosby hit 5 of 6 field goals. 26 and 31 yarders were kicked downwind, 36 and 41 yarders were successful into the wind. Crosby missed wide left from 44 into the wind but came backto hit a 47 yarder and he finished his night making 51 and 53 yarders with the wind at his back. The punting battle looks like a dead heat. Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan each had five punts at different spots on the field, backed up into their own end zone to midfield. Masthay averaged 47 yards a kick and Bryan averaged 50.4 and each had a long of 62.
The best part of the night was the fact there were no significant injuries. Nelson should be fine and backup receiver Brett Swain rolled a knee on a kickoff play but said he was OK after the practice. 9 players were held out of the scrimmage because of injury, Charles Woodson, Will Blackmon, Al Harris, James Starks, Frank Zombo, Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett, Donald Driver and Ronald Talley.