Packers Family Night brings fun, view of who's starring and who's struggling
Raquel Lamal and Jay Sorgi with Lance Allan, Jaclyn Brandt and Michele Fiore
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers may be the only team in sports to get 75,000 fans to pay more than $10 per person to watch a practice.
But that, and a lot more, was in store for the 63,000-plus who came as the 2013 edition of Family Night greeted the Packers and their fans.
Wow Lambeau. Great to see you again tonight! There's no place like home.— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) August 4, 2013
Finally a Packers Family Night where there is no threat of rain ruining the scrimmage.— Tyler Clendenning (@tylerc1) August 3, 2013
Beautiful weather came for an intra-squad scrimmage between the Packers' offense and defense, and a lot of questions to start being answered in the minds of fans:
Will Datone Jones' dominance be for real?
Can Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin beat out veterans and beef up the often-moribund Packers running game?
Will Mason Crosby hold on to his job, or will Giorgio Tavecchio beat him out?
After a passionate national anthem by an 11-year-old girl from Omro, Wis., it was time to start discovering answers.
At first, it didn't start well.
Finley drop on first pass from Rodgers— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
But then Aaron Rodgers got into a groove, hitting all his starting wide receivers in a clinic of short passing in the no-huddle offense.
This Cobb fella....he might have a nice season ahead of him. #Packers— Ol' Bag of Donuts (@olbagofdonuts) August 4, 2013
Looks like Bakhtiari is getting his chance at RT.— Brian Carriveau (@BrianCarriveau) August 4, 2013
D.J. Williams caught the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a 3rd-down and goal play.
Rodgers bullet to DJ Williams for TD. Both do Lambeau Leap. Bakhtiari in at RT with first team offense on end of that series #Packers— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
Then came B.J. Coleman and Graham Harrell's turns as the backup quarterback battle came to life.
B.J. Coleman running the show against the #Packers starting defense.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) August 4, 2013
BJ Coleman is light years ahead of where he was a year ago. Harrell coming in now. #splitreps— Dan Koob (@DanKoob) August 4, 2013
They both faced the first-team defense and newcomer Datone Jones.
Jones another play with good pressure on Harrell— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
Giorgio Tavecchio had the first field goal attempt of the night, making a 33-yarder.
After a kickoff, the first injury of the night happened.
Ryan Taylor carted off to the locker room? That's not paws-i-tive. At all.— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
Eddie Lacy got his first carry on the third drive, and he reached the "second level" past the defensive line. He had a solid start to his night.
Lacy is doing a better job of getting something out of nothing than Franklin. Very nice 4-yard gain with nothing there.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 4, 2013
But Lacy wasn't the only back who impressed in the all-important battle to build a stronger running game.
Boy there's James Starks circa 2010— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
James Nixon produced the first interception of the night, a pick-six off B.J. Coleman.
Nixon steps in front of Ross, who was falling down, and returned an INT 66 yards for a TD. Even if Ross didn't fall, Nixon had Coleman read.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 4, 2013
I think that was just a bad decision by Coleman. Ross slipped well after that ball was thrown. Nixon had jumped the route in a big way.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 4, 2013
Coleman had a second interception, by Brandon Smith.
Coleman can't rebound. Tries gunning a pass to Jeremy Ross in corner of end zone and it's picked by Brandon Smith.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) August 4, 2013
BJ Coleman not having one of his better practices so far— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
Mason Crosby was no more accurate as McCarthy gave him a field goal opportunity from deep.
Nudge me if you've heard this before. Mason Crosby just hit the right upright on a 48-yard field goal attempt.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 4, 2013
Kickers then took their chance at kickoffs - both pounded the football deep, but Crosby appeared to have better lift on his kickoffs.
However, they weren't just testing their legs, but what the newly-enclosed south end zone would do in terms of changing wind patterns.
The first touchdown from a running back Saturday night didn't come from Lacy, or Jonathan Franklin, but Mr. Unlikely - Angelo Pease.
Nice catch and run out of the backfield by RB Angelo Pease on a swing pass from Harrell. Beat LB Nate Palmer badly with a cutback move.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 4, 2013
Finally, a field goal competition ended the scrimmage.
- Crosby started with a miss from 37 yards, with a forlorn, slow walk after the kick. His competition, Tavecchio, struck from 37.
- Crosby struck successfully from 41 yards. Tavecchio missed from that distance.
- Next set, from even deeper: Crosby missing from 51, Tavecchio hitting from that distance with the help of a bounce off the crossbar.
- Switching ends, Crosby missed his first two kicks to that end zone from inside 40 yards.
Crosby to Packers fans is like George Costanza to his parents. A disappointment— Josh K (@JoshKlein87) August 4, 2013
McCarthy. Mason Crosby is competing for a job. That's not going to cut it— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) August 4, 2013
Mason Crosby's clock is rounding 11 towards midnight— Dan Koob (@DanKoob) August 4, 2013
Tavecchio struck paydirt.
- Crosby and Tavecchio both then struck from 51 yards.
That ended the football portion of the scrimmage before a fan jersey auction and fireworks.
What else did the experts see in this scrimmage?
Was hoping to see a bigger jump from B.J. Colman in Year 2. Haven't seen it yet, but it's still early. 4 preseason games to change my mind.— Brian Carriveau (@BrianCarriveau) August 4, 2013
Not a good start for B.J. Coleman.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) August 4, 2013
Before the game, fans partied it up outside, and as they entered Lambeau Field they also encountered new NFL security rules in terms of what they could bring inside the building.
They additionally encountered the brand new south end zone seats and the new scoreboard.
They also discovered lots of fun on the field as warmups commenced.
Aaron Rodgers is a lot smaller in person pic.twitter.com/ixjHltHxFv— Dan Koob (@DanKoob) August 3, 2013
"You don't get to see the Packers live ever, tickets are expensive and it's packed all the time, so Family Night is a good opportunity to do that," said Jayson Bailey of Burlington, Wisconsin.
People went all out tailgating for the first time this season.
"It's awesome. We're grilling out and having a good time, excited for kickoff," said Shane Neuberger of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Fans weren't the only ones excited about football back in town though. At Aloft hotel in Green Bay, they're swamped.
"We're sold out tonight. I actually think pretty much the entire city is sold out tonight," said Aloft operations manager Greg Rath.
Many people had to book early.
"We booked at least three months out," said Mark Melstrom, a tailgater at Lambeau.
This is the first of many weekends that all 105 rooms at Aloft hotel will book-up.
"Usually as soon as the Packers schedule is released within a few weeks pretty much every home game is sold out," said Rath.
Hotels depend heavily on fans and the team.
"This is our bread and butter, so the Packers are a big deal for us," said Rath.