Defense makes gains in Packers' 1-on-1 drill

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Several times since training camp opened, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has praised his offensive line.

There was his proclamation on the eve of camp that it has the potential to be the best line in his tenure as head coach. He also had a statement this week that the line has been the consistent position group in practice.

If that's the case, then he also should feel good about his pass rushers because the latest data from the one-on-one pass blocking/pass rushing drill shows the defensive players are more than holding their own.

Last year, offensive linemen won 73 percent of the one-on-one reps. In 2012, their winning percentage was 75 percent. This year, the offense has won just 65 percent of the reps.

Last summer, Mike Daniels had the best mark among the defensive players at 16-16. Through two weeks of practice this year, the defensive tackle is even better at 9-6. Ten defensive players currently have a .500 record or better.

Defensive players occupy eight of the top-10 spots in our "Block Rating" category, a mark (explained below) developed by researcher Luke Stanke, a Green Bay native and graduate student at the University of Minnesota who has aided in statistical analysis of this drill in recent years.

The chart below shows the latest records and ratings.

It's interesting to note:

  • The number of reps in this drill already has surpassed the total from all of camp last summer. They have been 180 turns so far. In all of camp last year, there were 140. In 2012, there were just 103. It's clear the coaches like this drill as evaluation tool.

  • Perhaps the biggest surprise so far has been second-year outside linebacker Nate Palmer. After going 2-5 in the drill last summer as a rookie, Palmer is 5-2 and ranks third in the block rating.

  • The Packers have had success finding outside linebackers among their rookie free-agent class over the years, and Toledo's Jayrone Elliott could be following in the footsteps of Frank Zombo, Vic So’oto and Andy Mulumba. Elliott is 5-5 with wins over Derek Sherrod (twice), Don Barclay (twice) and Bryan Bulaga.

  • With Barclay lost for the season with a knee injury, it increases guard Lane Taylor's chances of making the team. The Packers are likely to keep at least eight offensive linemen, and Taylor ranks sixth overall among them.

  • JC Tretter has taken every rep as the starting center but in this drill, he is in a virtual tie with rookie backup Corey Linsley.

  • Guard Josh Sitton has not taken a rep in this drill since last Thursday even though he has been a regular participant in practice. He said he wants to ease the wear and tear on his back.