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Packers Training Camp: Notebook

Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights training camp news.

1. Punter Matshay improving: The rage is the Australian-style drop punt and placement punting. In the padded practice, Masthay was given three punts from the 50 and two from the opponents’ 40. All five of his kicks either were downed inside the 20, fair-caught inside the 20 or out of bounds inside the 20. Masthay punted six times standing in the end zone with the ball snapped from the 5. His average distance of 53.5 yards was excellent. His average hang time of 4.25 seconds needs to be better or he’ll be outkicking his coverage.

2. Rookie D. J. Williams needs blocking work: No surprise, but rookie TE D.J. Williams has a substantial way to go to become a competent blocker. In blocking drills with coach Ben McAdoo, Williams seems far behind…isn’t surprising given he didn’t play in-line all that often at Arkansas and didn’t have an NFL off-season.

3. Finley & Burnett back: Wednesday, tight end Finley and safety Burnett made impressive healthy returns upon their first time in training camp. Finley made his presence felt early. During an 11-on-11 period dedicated mostly to running the ball, Finley got behind backup safeties Brandon Underwood andAnthony Levine and was hit in stride in the corner of the end zone by Matt Flynn.  Burnett was in the starting lineup at strong safety. On one play, he found himself in press man coverage against Finley near the right sideline. Exercising superb positioning, the athletic Burnett managed to break up the end-zone fadeBurnett almost picked off a pass from QB Rodgers to rookie tight end Ryan Taylor. Later, though, he got suckered on a fake and was toasted by rookie tight end D.J. Williams, but Williams took one too many stutter steps and Rodgers wound up overthrowing him. “Morgan made a couple of very nice breaks on the ball,” coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “I think our secondary is really off to a very good start as a group. Jermichael makes a difference. That first touchdown on the corner route, he’s a big target.”

4. DE Neal still limited: Defensive end Mike Neal took part in individual drills and one-on-one matchups against the offensive linemen for the first time in camp.  He was extremely rusty in his first contact work in almost 10 months. He went 1-2-1 in the pass-rushing drill.

5. Offense up-and-down with moments: In a starters vs. starters two-minute drill, Rodgers drove the offense 60 yards for a touchdown. He hit Nelson for two big gains down the sideline and capped the drive with a short touchdown pass to Donald Driver against Charles Woodson. “I thought the mechanics of it were good for the first time out,” McCarthy said. “I liked the way the defense mixed the pressure. We had a little bit of everything and the protection adjustments that you’re looking for. Aaron did a very good job of pushing the ball to the boundary. I don’t get caught up in who wins and who loses.”

6. Rookies House and Cobb are impressive:  Rookie House continued having a good camp.  Rookie Cobb looks like a great wide receiver and return man.

6. Odds and ends: In a three-way rotation, it was Frank Zombo‘s turn to work with the No. 1s at ROLB. Chris Campbell, a second-year free agent from Eastern Illinois, is one of the more improved players in camp. He has trimmed down and playing with more confidence and strength. He went 3-0-1 in the pass-blocking drill. LT Marshall Newhouse continued his dancing bear routine, almost effortlessly tying up LB Erik Walden twice in pass protection. FB Quinn Johnson reported overweight with the Packers want him weighing 262-263.

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