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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

Packers Family Night brings fun, view of who's starring and who's struggling

CREATED Aug. 3, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 3, 2013

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.

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.

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.

D.J. Williams caught the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a 3rd-down and goal play.

Then came B.J. Coleman and Graham Harrell's turns as the backup quarterback battle came to life.

They both faced the first-team defense and newcomer Datone Jones.

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.

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.

But Lacy wasn't the only back who impressed in the all-important battle to build a stronger running game.

James Nixon produced the first interception of the night, a pick-six off B.J. Coleman.

Coleman had a second interception, by Brandon Smith.

Mason Crosby was no more accurate as McCarthy gave him a field goal opportunity from deep.

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.

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.

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?

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.

"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.

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