The Green Bay Packers packed Lambeau Field with more than 50,000 fans on Friday as many fans got their first look at the 2022 team. Apparently the team avoided a major injury, the best thing to happen in any August practice, but that does not mean that everything has been pleasant.
Head coach Matt LaFleur was unhappy with the team’s conditioning after practice, claiming players were “dragged” at the end of practice. This prompted LaFleur to end practice a few minutes early, eliminating the team’s live tackle period from the team.
Still, there were plenty of highlights to come out of Family Night and the regional broadcast meant that fans were able to record and distribute these works, unlike normal practice. Finally, we were able to see the plays that we had to imagine before through the tweets of the beat writers.
There was no change in the team’s turnout before Family Night, aside from the absence of outside linebacker Randy Ramsey. Ramsey just returned from a season-long ankle injury that cost him his 2021 season and put him on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp. Running back Patrick Taylor (groin), running back Kylin Hill (knee), receiver Christian Watson (PUP, knee), receiver Malik Taylor (shoulder), receiver Osirus Mitchell (quad), tight end Robert Tonyan (PUP, knee), tackle David Bakhtiari (PUP, knee), offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins (PUP, knee), offensive lineman Cole Schneider (ankle) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (NFI, groin) remained out of practice.
The opportunity to see four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is always an event, but one of the highlights on Family Night was backup quarterback Jordan Love, who will be entering his third season with the team. Love started the excitement when he outplayed Rodgers tossing the nets into the air.
Love’s connection to seventh-round rookie Samori Toure, who has been working with the backups all offseason, was apparent from the start. After practice, head coach Matt LaFleur stated, “It’s been pretty impressive what [Love]has been able to put together the latest practices.” Earlier this week, LaFleur said Love has had the best practice of his Packers career. With preseason starting next week, Rodgers unlikely to play, and only one other quarterback on the roster, there will be plenty of opportunity for Love to deliver a quality movie this summer.
With Taylor still out at running back, undrafted rookie BJ Baylor shined. If Taylor and Hill are still out for Week 1, there’s a good chance the Packers’ final running back spot will come down to Baylor or Tyler Goodson, players who may have been afterthoughts a week ago but are in a serious fight to break the list. as it is today.
This offseason, new offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said he wanted to have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, perhaps the team’s best two offensive players, on the field together more in 2022. We take a look at this for at least a snapshot, when Jones ran a jet sweep from an outside receiver lineup while Dillon was his lead perimeter blocker from off the field. If the play looks familiar, it’s because the Packers ran around the same yard against the Minnesota Vikings last season.
Receivers / tight ends
Romeo Doubs? Yes, Romeo Doubs. She did it again.
The fourth-round wide receiver makes plays in every practice, to the point where he was the first player mentioned during the Family Night broadcast. Everyone is raving about Nevada’s product and that’s not going to change after his performance tonight.
Doubs, like Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Juwann Winfree, got early looks with “the ones” at outside receiver. Tight end Isaiah Deguara, along with Lazard, Randall Cobb, Doubs and Amaro Rodgers, were seen early as slot receivers. The broadcast noted that Lazard, who is listed at 227 pounds, is down to 220 pounds this season.
At tight end, Deguara and Tyler Davis were used as the main front-row pass receivers, unsurprisingly. Davis and Marcedes Lewis were the team’s main line tight ends, while Deguara and Dominique Dafney played off the ball, apart or as fullbacks. It seemed like the team ran more fullback plays in this practice than it used to in the average game last season.
Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Jake Hanson and Royce Newman (from left to right) were the “starting” offensive line unit today. In the second half of practice, fourth-round rookie Zach Tom popped up at right tackle, kicking Newman inside to right guard and putting Hanson on the second row. This is par for the course, as those two lineups are the ones the team has been practicing with this week, as second-year tackle Cole Van Lanen appears to be out of the running for the starting right tackle job.
Third-round rookie Sean Rhyan had some trouble today with the seconds, which could be why the team has him buried in the depth chart. As the second team’s right guard, he gave in to multiple pressures and was called on multiple hold calls. Overall, the defense got the better of the offensive line, although Nijman and Runyan had good days.
Defensively, the team lined up in various formations during practice. There were the expected 3-4 sets and nickels, but the penny formation appears to be here to stay and the team used a couple of pressure packs that put an inside linebacker on the line of scrimmage.
The team’s starting defensive line in their 3-4 defense was Dean Lowry, Kenny Clark (on the nose), and Jarran Reed, with Devonte Wyatt and Clark getting some snaps at the end and TJ Slaton looking at the nose tackle. Clark only saw snaps at the end when Slaton was on the nose. When the team was in nickel, Reed, Clark, Lowry and Slaton played inside with “the ones.”
Wyatt had a great day lining up toe-to-toe with fellow rookie Rhyan. Rodgers noted Wednesday that sometimes when “the lights turn on“Some players are up to the moment. In front of more than 50,000 fans, the first-round pick had their best practice of the summer, according to Andy Herman of Packer Report.
At outside linebacker, Jonathan Garvin and La’Darius Hamilton saw the most snaps with “the only ones” behind starters Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. This is a bit of a change of pace, as Tip Galeai was ahead of Garvin on the depth chart until recently.
Inside linebacker was perhaps the most boring position to track from a player involvement standpoint, as De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker took virtually every snap on the team with “the ones.” Campbell was the team’s lone linebacker in penny sets and also played linebacker for Mike when Walker walked to the line of scrimmage in pressure packs. Walker is going to be the big body to open things up for Campbell, not the other way around.
The cornerback position pretty much gave us what we expected. Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes were the team’s starting outside cornerbacks and Rasul Douglas came off the bench to play the subpackage spot. Later in practice, Shemar Jean-Charles excelled at both outside cornerback and slotback, while Rico Gafford also got the nod at outside cornerback.
Keisean Nixon, who was the team’s fourth cornerback in camp until his groin injury, should be back on the team soon, which will be a nice bar for Jean-Charles and Gafford. The team could keep six cornerbacks on the roster, as Nixon and Gafford could contribute significantly on special teams, but that’s not a sure thing.
The only injury scare today was the fall of starting safety Darnell Savage. According to ESPN’s Rob DemovskySavage had ice wrapped around his right hamstring after he limped off the field. At the post-practice news conference, LaFleur said he didn’t think Savage had a serious injury and that Savage “didn’t seem too nervous.”
In something of a surprise, former draft pick Vernon Scott replaced Savage. Shawn Davis, who was drafted by the Packers last season, had been getting the majority of the team’s third-safety looks up to this point in the summer. Like cornerback, the numbers game at safety (four or five) will be important to track when it comes to the 53-man roster. Savage, starter Adrian Amos, Scott, Davis, special teams signing Dallin Leavitt and special teams draft pick Tariq Carpenter have a chance to remain on the Week 1 roster.
If you don’t want to hear bad news, close the page now.
The punt team didn’t look good today. There were more bad plays and penalties than you’d like to see, even in early August. The team’s best long snapper once again was Jack Coco, an undrafted free agent who was signed after a workout in May. Rookie kicker Gabe Brkic, who is “starting” in place of the injured Crosby, also had a poor showing.
The good news is that the returns looked good today and did most of their returns cleanly. Doubs, Rodgers and Ishmael Hyman received looks as punt returns, and Rodgers even had a good return in which he approached a fastball to catch it.