Rodgers sharp, refs booed in Packers scrimmage
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)
Aaron Rodgers was flinging passes all over the place and a large Lambeau Field crowd was enjoying every minute of it.
Still, there was one wrinkle that got the attention of the Green Bay Packers and coach Mike McCarthy during Friday's ''Family Night'' scrimmage: A crew of replacement officials that wasn't shy about making calls - even unpopular ones.
The replacement crew drew a rousing round of boos from the crowd for calling an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when several Packers did a ''Lambeau Leap'' into the stands after running back James Starks scored on the No. 1 offense's first drive.
''That's debatable, though,'' Rodgers said. ''I talked to them. They weren't quite sure of that or not.''
Even so, the team won't be pulling such stunts once the regular season starts.
''Obviously during the season that's a $5,000 fine for each of us that jumps in the stands, so we might as well get it in before the real games start,'' Rodgers said.
With the NFL involved in a labor dispute with its officials, Friday night's scrimmage featured some of the league's replacement officials, who came to Green Bay to work at Packers practices earlier in the week.
New Packers center Jeff Saturday, who played a critical role in the players' tense and drawn-out negotiations with the owners over a new collective bargaining agreement a year ago, said he appreciated the regular officials' plight.
''Any time you're locked out, I'm sure that's a tough thing for those guys to do,'' Saturday said. ''But for what they're fighting for - and obviously they all believe strongly enough, the same way we did with ours - I don't know all their particulars, but I know when you feel that passion about something, you've got to make a stand, and it sounds like that's what they're doing.''
The replacement officials didn't dare throw another flag after Rodgers threw a 33-yard touchdown to Greg Jennings later in the scrimmage, triggering another team-wide leap into the stands.
That didn't mean the officials stayed quiet the rest of the night, as the scrimmage was marred by penalties on both sides of the ball.
McCarthy didn't seem to think the officials were off the mark on too many of their calls, instead turning his attention to his own team. Seven pre-snap penalties definitely got his attention.
''Obviously we're not happy about that, particularly when it's back-to-back nights,'' McCarthy said. ''We had an issue with pre-snap penalties last night. We had 14 last night, seven today, so we've obviously got to get that right. This is the process of training camp. My message to the team was let's get better and improve.''
But McCarthy did acknowledge that he noticed that the regular officials weren't out there, and he wasn't sure how much time the replacement crew had spent together.
''I think one of the best things a good officiating crew can do is communicate with you,'' McCarthy said. ''And when they're doing that, everybody's trying to get it right. So it's different, for the fact that you usually know the guys and you have some type of rapport. ... We'll see what happens.''
Saturday hopes something can be worked out.
''Obviously, you want the guys who've been doing it for as long as they have to be there if possible,'' Saturday said. ''But whoever's out there, I think, will be professional and be ready to call a game and do a good job with it.''
A crowd of 55,605 took in the sights at Lambeau Field, many of them getting their first look at the stadium's major ongoing construction project in the south end zone - including a massive new video board towering high over the field. The project won't be completed until 2013.
Left tackle Marshall Newhouse appeared to pick up an injury toward the end of the scrimmage, but McCarthy said he didn't have any injury updates.
Backup quarterbacks Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman split duties against the Packers' No. 1 defense on the second drive of the night, but couldn't find the end zone - although Coleman, a seventh-round rookie out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, completed a nice throw on his first attempt of the night.
Charles Woodson, who has sat out the event in the past, was not in uniform for the Packers so fans didn't get a glimpse of the veteran's potentially expanded role as a safety.
Punter Tim Masthay, who just signed a four-year contract extension with the team, put on an impressive display when the scrimmage was halted for punting practice.
''It's really simple for me: I consider it a great honor and privilege to play for this organization,'' Masthay said. ''I'm just thrilled to know that's going to continue.''
As for the excessive celebration penalty on the leap into the stands, guard T.J. Lang was just happy most of the linemen could make it up the wall.
''Yeah, I saw that. I thought it was a weak call,'' Lang joked. ''It was fun, man. We planned it out. And obviously we wouldn't do that in a game.''
Of bigger concern to Lang: ''I think I got salsa all over my back. That wasn't very fun.''