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Packers healthier, practices better

Posted Aug 20, 2012

Rookie tackle Andrew Datko is the latest addition to the injury list, otherwise, the Packers are a healthy team heading into Thursday’s preseason game in Cincinnati.

“This is the healthiest we’ve been in quite some time, and our practices the last two days reflect that. The quality of work has picked up,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following a lengthy and physical workout on Monday. The practice included two separate periods during which the offensive and defensive lines worked against each other.

Winless through the first two games of this preseason, the Packers would like to come back from Cincinnati this week with a win and an effort that says the team is ready to begin the regular season. The starters will see their longest action of the preseason on Thursday.

“There are a number of things,” McCarthy said when asked what he wants to see his team accomplish against the Bengals. “You go out to win the game. I’d like to see the first guys play the first half. The second half is opportunity for a lot of individuals, and that’ll give us information. It will be an excellent challenge. There’ll be a lot that’ll come out of this game.”

NFL teams must cut their rosters to 75 by Monday. The second half of Thursday’s game will be all about that roster reduction.

Datko, a seventh-round pick from Florida State, sustained a concussion in Sunday’s practice. No timetable for his return was provided, but McCarthy talked about medical staff's being especially cautious in dealing with injuries.

In Datko’s place on Monday, undrafted free agent tackle Shea Allard worked at left tackle with the No. 2 offense. Undrafted guard Greg Van Roten also spent time with the twos; both players would seem to be headed for the most important game of their professional careers.

Newly acquired running back Cedric Benson is also attempting to carve a place for himself in the Packers offense, and all indications on Monday were that Benson is assimilating himself into the action seamlessly. Benson burst into the open on a couple of runs and on a screen pass, too.

“Cedric Benson is an extremely productive player. You look at his last three seasons,” McCarthy said, referring to consecutive thousand-yard rushing efforts. “We don’t have to change anything and he doesn’t have to change anything to fit into our offense. We have plenty of scheme for Cedric Benson to fit in.”

Linebacker Erik Walden (pictured), a somewhat forgotten player following the selection of Nick Perry in the first round of the draft, continues to play well in this training camp. He was praised for his solid work in taking on and defeating run blocks by offensive linemen on Monday. Walden was the star of the drill.

Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward continues to pile up passes-defensed. He leaped above 6-4 wide receiver Tori Gurley to knock away a deep pass along the left sideline on Monday.

First-year safety Anthony Levine would seem to have moved up the depth chart. He was playing with the No. 1 “dime” defensive unit on Monday and made an impressive play in breaking up a pass.

Packers fans in attendance no doubt had their hearts warmed by the sight of Aaron Rodgers completing a no-huddle drill with a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings.

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