The Green Bay Packers held their second open practice of OTAs on Wednesday, the team’s fifth practice overall, and there were more than a few interesting developments. From a fun formation on offense to the start of a kicking competition, it was an intriguing day at Clarke Hinkle Field.
However, the biggest news probably comes in regards to the Packers’ second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Elgton Jenkins. Though he finished his collegiate career at the center position, Jenkins is widely expected to play guard in the NFL.
Indeed, Jenkins took his first reps with the starting offense (at least his first reps in a public practice) on Wednesday, but they did not come at center. Instead, those snaps came at right guard, with Billy Turner shifted out to right tackle in place of Bryan Bulaga (the veteran having taken a few plays off either by design or as an injury precaution). It’s clear from this development that the Packers see Jenkins as a guard long-term rather than lining up over the football.
Admittedly, Jenkins needs less work at center than he does at guard if the team sees him as a long-term option at both positions. After all, he played center the past two years at Mississippi State, and has not lined up at guard since his sophomore year. However, the Packers had plenty of center snaps to go around on Wednesday, with starter Corey Linsley sitting out team drills due to a flight delay that prevented him from practicing fully. The fact that the team put Lucas Patrick at center with Jenkins flanking him should be a clear sign that the team wants the rookie to focus on getting acclimated to the position that they see as his best fit while wearing a Packers uniform.
Further confirmation came after practice, when head coach Matt LaFleur spoke to the media. He said that Jenkins’ “main area of focus” will be at the guard position, and that he will take only limited reps at center.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ offense as a whole had its share of highlights on Wednesday. In the first play of team drills, Aaron Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a deep ball, beating rookie safety Darnell Savage over the top of the defense for a would-be touchdown. Rodgers also had a scoring pass on a back-shoulder fade to Davante Adams, and the Packers trotted out an exciting new red zone alignment:
Fun formation in red zone:— Andy Herman (@SconnieSports) May 29, 2019
80 89 x x x x x 19 17
That’s Jimmy Graham split out on the left with Marcedes Lewis tight on the line, then Equanimeous St. Brown in the slot right with Davante Adams wide and Aaron Jones stacked behind. Fun, right?
The Packers’ kickers finally got in the mix as well, with Mason Crosby and Sam Ficken dueling from five distances. Ficken hit all five of his attempts, while Crosby missed the longest try, from 45 yards.
On defense, another Packers rookie got a little taste of multiple positions on Wednesday. Rashan Gary, the team’s top draft pick, took several reps at the conventional outside linebacker spot, but also put his hand in the dirt a few times as an interior nickel rusher. With a similar plan in place for free agent signing Za’Darius Smith, expect to see a lot of both players rushing over guards and centers when the regular season begins.
The Packers do not practice on Thursday, but will conclude week two of OTAs with a closed practice on Friday. They will be back outside for their final open OTA practice on Tuesday, June 4th, with minicamp slated for the following week.