GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Herewith are my observations and thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' annual Family Night scrimmage, which unlike last year actually took place as planned. The big stories were place-kicker Mason Crosby and two nice plays by some young defensive backs.
Crosby's first kickoff went nine yards deep in the end zone and he converted seven of eight field goal attempts. His only miss was from 44 yards on a hold that might have left something to be desired. The makes were from 26, 31, 36, 41, 47, 51 and 53 yards. There was some early-camp concern about Crosby's accuracy, but Saturday night he was pretty much lights-out. "It was definitely a good way to start," Crosby said. "I felt good. I thought I hit the ball well, and the whole operation did great."
Cornerback Brandon Underwood, working with the first team in place of a resting Charles Woodson, intercepted a Graham Harrell pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. As I'll also note in my upcoming Packers Camp Confidential, Underwood has caught just about everyone's eyes this summer. "I feel a lot more comfortable with what I'm doing," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable that when they line up, I'm going to know what to look for and can try to decipher everything they're doing."
Rookie Sam Shields, meanwhile, stepped in front of a Matt Flynn pass and unofficially took it back 97 yards for a touchdown. I'm telling you, Shields looks much more comfortable as a defensive back than as kick returner. He also displayed some flair by high-stepping the final 10 yards before crossing into the end zone. "Just a little showboating," he said.
Jordy Nelson worked with the first team in place of a resting Donald Driver and caught Aaron Rodgers' first pass, a bullet down the seam for 27 yards. Nelson held on to the ball after a nasty collision with safety Charlie Peprah but suffered a bruise that prevented him from returning to the scrimmage. The only other injury was a sprained knee for receiver Brett Swain.
Tight end Jermichael Finley bowled over Underwood after a 14-yard reception. After the play, Finley stood over Underwood to talk some (presumably) good-natured trash.
Brandon Jackson returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score. The Packers were also using him on kickoff coverage and McCarthy continued his effusive praise of the reserve running back. "Brandon Jackson, I think he has arrived," McCarthy said.
I really didn't see much separation between punters Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan. Both had long punts of 62 yards Saturday night. "We're so much further ahead [in the punting game] than we've been in the last two years," McCarthy said.
Actual turnstile attendance was 47, 844. For a practice with live tackling. Amazing.
I'm probably jinxing us, but Sunday should be a relatively quiet day on the NFC North blog. Look for the Packers Camp Confidential on Monday morning.