Postcard from camp: Packers
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Don Banks had to say about Packers camp in Green Bay, Wis., which he visited on July 30.
In Green Bay, Wis., aka "Titletown,'' where the Packers players still practice that quaint and time-honored tradition of borrowing bikes from kids to ride rather than walk the short hop across the street from Lambeau Field to the team's Ray Nitschke Field practice site. Everybody was on their Schwinns Saturday night before Green Bay's first practice of camp, which was attended by an enthusiastic crowd of roughly 2,000.
With ex-Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins signing a five-year, $25 million deal with the Eagles (who else?) on Saturday, Green Bay is officially looking for someone to fill his old 3-4 defensive end slot. The Packers will probably use more of a rotation, but Mike Neal, a second-round pick out of Purdue in 2010, is going to get plenty of playing time. Neal missed all but two games last season due to rotator-cuff surgery, but the 6-foot-3, 294-pounder is powerfully built and looked impressive early on.
The Packers don't really do free agency, as you know, so our pick in this category is second-round rookie receiver/return man Randall Cobb, from Kentucky (someone has to call him "Tex'' by now, right?). The Packers return game was one of their real weaknesses last season, but Cobb should add more than just some speed and explosiveness to the punt and kickoff returns. He's a 5-10, 192-pound slot receiver who some have likened to Percy Harvin or Josh Cribbs, and Cobb even handled some Wildcat quarterback duties at Kentucky.
I don't see the Packers doing any worse than 12-4 this year, but it's a weird schedule for the champs. They play on all the major holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas night and New Year's Day. There're four night games, five national TV games, all the usual treatment for a defending Super Bowl winner. And how's this for a quirk: Green Bay opens at home and plays its last two games at home, but in the 107 days that fall between Sept. 9 and Dec. 24, the Packers take the field just five times at Lambeau.