Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- While ostensibly serving duty on Favre Watch this week, we've also taken in all six Packers practices to date. (What? Could an actual football post be forthcoming)? You'll find that we're not big believers in drawing conclusions from practice observations, but nonetheless, a few things have caught our eye.
By our count, the Packers had a half-dozen false start or offside penalties during team drills on the first day of practice. Since then, we've heard at least one Packers player or coach mention the term "pre-snap penalties" every day. All teams emphasize the elimination of those mistakes, but it is a particular point of emphasis for the Packers' offense as it transitions to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It might sound simple, but lineman, receivers and backs are getting used to a new way of calling plays as well as a new cadence. That's what training camp is for.
Rodgers is still establishing timing with his receivers and has thrown his share of off-target passes. But one thing is clear: Three years as an apprentice has left him with an exceptional understanding of the offense. Over six practices, it would be hard to pick out more than three or four plays where Rodgers seemed unsure where to throw the ball. For a young quarterback, knowing where the open receiver will be is more than half the battle.
Rodgers throws the ball with an easy touch. Friday morning, he lofted a perfect goal-line fade pass to receiver Ruvell Martin. Martin made a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone.
Coach Mike McCarthy and others have offered layers of praise for second-year running back Brandon Jackson, who is working with the first team while Ryan Grant holds out. Some of that is probably designed to push Grant into camp, but at least part of it is genuine. Jackson added eight pounds of muscle in the offseason and still has a good burst at the line of scrimmage. He might eventually be a perfect third-down back, but for now the Packers could do a lot worse with him as the starter.
Admittedly, we've watched much more offense than defense. But we haven't seen a ton of evidence to support the commonly-held view that the Packers would blitz more this season. Of course, they probably wouldn't show too much of that during an open practice. We did notice linebacker Brady Poppinga working a bit Friday as a pass-rushing defensive end, as promised.
People always like to know about sleepers, so one player that has caught our eye is third-year tight end Tory Humphrey, who spent last season on injured reserve. Humphrey has pretty soft hands and seems to know how to get open. The Packers' starter figures to be Donald Lee, and the team also used a third-round draft pick this spring on Jermichael Finley, but Humphrey would seem to be a strong candidate for a roster spot.