With light rain falling, about a dozen die hard fans gathered outside the gate but never got a good glimpse of the Packers as the second public organized team activity practice had to move inside the Don Hutson Center today. With only reporters allowed inside to watch, Head Coach Mike McCarthy put the team through a spirited albeit at times sloppy practice that lasted just under two hours. Spirited, because the energy level was extremely high. One of the focal points during the on-field work this spring is to create more turnovers, specifically forcing fumbles. The Packers piled up an awful lot of sacks last season but ranked near the bottom in the NFL in knocking the football out of the hands of opponents. In nearly every drill, the defense is over the top conscious of trying to strip, punch and rip the ball away. Defensive line drills had pass rushers chopping the ball tucked in the arm of a tackling dummy. Even incomplete passes have defenders swarming like piranah on the rolling ball. As for the sloppy stuff, the ball drills got some practical use when on the first snap of a third down team drill, Alex Green coughed it up and the defense went crazy. A receiver fell down allowing James Nixon to pick off a pass and when Sederrick Cunningham committed a false start penalty, defenders, particularly Clay Matthews, jeered him back to the huddle unmercifully.
There was a new kid on the block. The Packers signed a free agent safety, David Fulton from not so mighty Chowan University of North Carolina. The 6-1, 196 pound defender played 36 games in his small college career but picked off a handful of passes as a senior and even blitzed his way to a couple of sacks. He'll wear number 40.
Johnny Jolly still hasn't arrived in camp. Given his reinstatement by the league office, Jolly is still finishing up details in Houston before returning to Green Bay. He reportedly completed his court ordered drug treatment program last week. Jolly was suspended by the league after the 2010 season and ultimately was convicted on drug charges. McCarthy said after practice we live in a second chance society and he's anxious to see what Jolly does with his but did not specifically address the details or the timetable for his official return to the team.
Several players are observing only and taking part in rehabilitative work on the side. The healing list includes both rookie wide receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, running back DuJuan Harris, safety Sean Richardson, defensive back Davon House, linebackers Dezman Moses and Desmond Bishop, tackle Derek Sherrod, defensive tackles Ryan Picket and Jerel Worthy. Rookie tackle J.C. Tretter was not on the field, recovering from a broken ankle on the first day of the OTA's.
Some other practice observations, Mike Neal is taking part in individual drills as an outside linebacker and still taking team reps as an inside pass rushing lineman. Randall Cobb continues to line up as a running back and Jeremy Ross also took some reps in that position. Both are receivers by trade. Sam Shields still hasn't shown up during the voluntary OTA's. He's sitting on a restricted free agent contract tender offer in the hope the Packers will consider a long term deal. It's risky business for a player who has run hot and cold in the secondary with several young players already in camp and vying for snaps. The team will work through this week and conduct the mandatory three day mini-camp next week before finishing with a third week of OTA's June 10-13.