GREEN BAY - While the Packers’ players’ fate ultimately lies in the hands of General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy, it's the position coaches they see day in and day out throughout camp.
We've seen them with the blocking sled, jugs machine, and duking it out with teammates, for the coaches to really appraise what they've got they need to see their players do it live.
Alex Van Pelt, the running backs coach, said the preseason is important for evaluation. "It's real, it's obviously live so these are real reps for these guys and they're actually going to get thudded up and they're going to have to break tackles, run through tackles, go to the ground so it's a good chance to see these guys when they actually have live bullets flying at them," Van Pelt said.
James Campen, the offensive line coach added, "as an offensive line everything is predicated on the guy next to you what does he do how do we all work cohesively together. I know as a unit they're looking to see how we perform."
The Packers defensive backs get to match up with a stable of top flight wide receivers every day in practice, but their position coach, Joe Whitt Jr. said it’s all about how you handle playing under the lights. "When you get another good of receivers another team how are you going to play it's all for real. You can't have one good play then give up a deep play. That's okay in practice it's not okay on game day," Whitt said.
His cornerbacks will get the opportunity, at least for a few snaps, to lineup against Larry Fitzgerald, one of the top wide receivers in the league. If they find themselves in man-to-man against Fitzgerald or for that matter any other Cardinals’ wide receivers he hopes they remember his advice.
"The things I always tell them about man coverage, two things about man coverage. You must first know and understand who you are and then you must understand the skill set of the receiver you're facing,” Whitt Jr. said. “I'm excited to see if the things we've talked about are they going to be able to take them out there under the lights and get them done and get them executed."
Whitt Jr., think his guys are well prepared to see game action. "The way that I coach I try to make practice so hard that the games are easy for them. I try to stress them in practice, make sure the attention to detail is there. So when they do get out there on game day it's easy for them," Whitt Jr. said.
Making the big play is usually the first thing out of the players mouth when you ask how they can leave a lasting impression, the coaches say you also can't make something out of nothing.
"You can't go out there and force things. You have to let the game come to you. See what you see and be the player that you are that got you here really,” Alex Van Pelt said. “You get in trouble when you try to do too much and make too many cuts. Just trust your instincts, trust your fundamentals, and how out and play the game you've played your whole life."
Wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett simplified it even more, "Just be yourself. Just go out there and do what you've been trained to do."
The frigid temperatures forced some area communities to cancel their weekend Christmas celebrations. But New London braved the cold for its annual Holiday of Wonder Parade.
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Marinette Marine is preparing to christen one of its Littoral Combat Ships.
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Those who do go to the Packers-Falcons game Sunday will help honor a green and gold legend.