After the Green Bay Packers’ first open public practice of the year at Organized Team Activities on Tuesday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers answered some typical post-practice questions outside his locker. Though too early in the workout period to make a true judgment call, Rodgers shed light on a few storylines regarding the team’s young roster and positional battles.
As we await a healthier showing at OTAs this week, here are three notable themes that emerged from Rodgers’ comments.
There is still some bitterness with the departure of Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant should not be counted on to be a member of the Packers’ roster next season.
Sometimes tone tells the whole story. On the same day that Rodgers told the media there was “nothing new to report” on negotiation talks, there remained some clear feelings of frustration towards the release of Nelson in the offseason.
When asked about a talented receiver still on the market in Bryant and what dynamic he could bring to the Packers’ offense, Aaron’s face and voice displayed more displeasure in answering that question than his words. “Well, we like young receivers so I’m assuming that’s the way they’re going to keep going,” said Rodgers. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy and bring in Dez. But he’s a talented player and he’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, obviously we will welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.”
It was a telling sign from the Packers’ quarterback that a union with Bryant remains unlikely and that Rodgers is still upset with the decision to move on from Nelson. Whether that move still impacts what have become slow contract talks with the future Hall of Famer remains unclear.
However, Rodgers did mention the size and speed of the trio of rookie receivers and praised Jimmy Graham as an addition that could help the passing game immediately. “That guy’s pretty damn talented,” Rodgers said of Graham. “He’s got some different elements we haven’t had around here in a little while with his ability to read coverages very quickly. He catches everything with his hands.” With extra practice reps, a Rodgers-Graham combination certainly has a chance to be lethal next season.
Dillon Day may be a name to watch for a backup center role in 2018.
Among Rodgers’s more noteworthy remarks was an unsolicited one about a young, interior offensive lineman. With Green Bay’s line hoping to answer questions at a number of positions in preseason camps, another one might be gaining steam - backup center.
Last season, the duo of Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray filled that role behind starter Corey Linsley. But on Tuesday, Rodgers mentioned the progress of Dillon Day, a center who bounced around the practice squads and active rosters of the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts in 2017 before signing on with Green Bay in December.
“Dillon’s done a nice job at center. Obviously we need a backup center. It’s a very important spot on the offensive line and, really, a guaranteed spot on the roster. That’ll be interesting to watch.”
With Green Bay also testing undrafted rookie Austin Davis and bringing back veterans like McCray, Patrick, and former sixth round pick Kofi Amichia to battle for the backup spot, it was a nice bode of confidence for Day. The Mississippi State product knows a little bit about snapping the ball to a dynamic quarterback, serving as the center to Dak Prescott while with the Bulldogs. Day could make a mark in the NFL by snapping to Rodgers next season.
Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Tramon Williams, and ... Demetri Goodson?
Green Bay stockpiled some extra talent and depth this offseason at the corner position and Rodgers himself described the moves as making a position of weakness into a possible strength. Another player Rodgers mentioned was one that had been rather forgotten -Goodson.
The last time Packers fans truly saw Goodson was when he was carted off the field after a tragic knee injury on November 20, 2016. Although Goodson was elevated back to the active roster in December of 2017, it marked a long recovery for the former sixth round pick after tearing his ACL, MCL, and both meniscuses in his left knee on top of a dislocated kneecap.
After calling Alexander “athletic” and Jackson “instinctive,” Rodgers noted the play of Goodson and the competition heating up at cornerback with the signings of Williams and Davon House. “Demetri is back on the field and he’s made some plays already in the two days,” said Rodgers.
Again, it’s early to tell his chances of making the team, but it was a good sign for an under-the-radar player like Goodson to catch Rodgers’s eye. In what has become a crowded defensive backfield, the Packers have to feel optimistic about the newfound talent and stability at the position.