After a very quiet Friday practice that was designed to be easy for the players, Saturday’s practice came with notable hints as to how the roster is developing in camp. Two players cracked the defensive lineup in the secondary who were not starting yesterday, while the offensive line was reshuffled once again. Offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak was placed on the reserved/retired list, while new details on the contracts of receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Dennis Kelly emerged.
The team feels like it’s finally starting to take shape, as the Packers head into their first week of being able to put on football pads.
Pre-practice presser, head coach Matt LaFleur
- The most information we got out of LaFleur’s presser this morning was about the structure of the training camp. He confirmed that the team will go to shoulder pads on Tuesday and that Saturday’s practice was a “ramp-up” practice following Friday’s easy day. It seems like the Packers won’t be going “hard” three days in a row in the summer, as an effort to give their players somewhat of a break in camp.
- Tight end Marcedes Lewis was back after a veteran day off on Friday, while Isaac Nauta also returned following his Friday absence. Safety Henry Black, a contributor last season, was at practice after previously being listed on the NFI list. Offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak was missing for a second straight day, raising concerns, before it was announced that the Packers placed him on the reserve/retired list. The 2020 sixth-round pick was activated for a month in 2020 after recovering from an ACL tear he sustained in college, practiced with the team in the summer, but might be done with a football career altogether.
- Numbers officially came in for the Packers’ two most recent additions: wide receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Dennis Kelly. After Houston was convinced to eat part of Cobb’s guarantees in exchange for a sixth-round pick and the cap relief that the Packers gave the team by taking on his remaining guaranteed salary, the Packers restructured Cobb’s deal to slash his 2021 cap hit nearly in half. Kelly signed a surprisingly cheap deal, under $1.5 million for one year with just a $250,000 signing bonus, for a tackle who started every game in 2021.
Absolutely fascinating to watch Marcedes Lewis go over blocking teaching points with Robert Tonyan. Could watch this all day. pic.twitter.com/K4dekuRXW8— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) July 31, 2021
- The presence of veterans has been a topic that has worked hand-in-hand with the Aaron Rodgers saga this offseason. If you want a look at what veterans bring to the table, take a look at the video clip above of Marcedes Lewis coaching up Robert Tonyan in the blocking game.
- The offensive line was reshuffled again today. Dennis Kelly was no longer working with the first team, as he was yesterday, as Ben Braden, who saw some left tackle snaps earlier in the summer, saw some action at left guard as Elgton Jenkins once again popped out to left tackle. To no surprise, the Packers are experimenting with who their best five are with starting left tackle David Bakhtiari still rehabbing his knee injury, a theme that will likely continue when the pads finally come on next week.
- Speaking of the offensive line, Aaron Rodgers had high praise for his rookie center Josh Myers, stating, “For a guy to come in, as a draft pick, as a rookie, and be that comfortable...it’s pretty impressive.” The second-rounder, at this point, is a heavy favorite to be the team’s starting center going into the season and has the inside track of being the most impactful rookie on the roster in 2021.
- Jon Runyan Jr., who has seen most of his snaps this offseason come in at guard, also saw work at center today. It would not be surprising if Green Bay’s line of succession at center going into the season was: Josh Myers, Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan. The potential of only rostering one “true center” is on the table if three of their lineman can snap the ball.
- Cornerback Kevin King is still out with a hamstring issue, forcing rookie first-rounder Eric Stokes into the starting lineup. Jaire Alexander missed a portion of practice, which led to Josh Jackson coming off of the bench. This provides clarity on how the Packers see their depth chart at outside cornerback, with Chandon Sullivan being their primary slotback.
- Safety Henry Black, in his first practice off of the NFI list, saw snaps with the first-team defense in their three-safety looks. Previously, Vernon Scott, a heavy special teams contributor, had been taking those reps.
- After practice, Aaron Rodgers spoke to his former teammate James Jones while NFL Network had set up shop in Green Bay for the practice for the day. He told Jones, “If I could have had you back and Jordy [Nelson] back and all those guys back, I would have been a smart man.”
- James Jones also talked to Davante Adams, who named Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen as players he studies and considers the other top receivers in the league. James later told Adams, “I’m going to call Russ Ball and tell him $25 mil a year. Is you cool with that?” Adams responded, “That’s it? 25? Look, man, the stage has been set. [DeAndre Hopkins set the stage, whether or not they want to respect that number or whatever...nah, I’m just playing ball. You’re trying to get me in trouble.”
Post-practice pressers, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, receiver Amari Rodgers and pass-rusher Rashan Gary
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling praised Randall Cobb, who he had played with earlier on in his career, for his leadership. “He’s one of the best vets I’ve been around...I haven’t had a better vet to teach me how to be a better vet.”
- When asked if he’s the fastest player on the team, with cornerback Eric Stokes’ notable 40-yard dash time, Valdes-Scantling replied quickly and adamantly, “Yeah, no question.”
- Amari Rodgers also talked about his protege Randall Cobb, noting, “I remember being a kid and just being able to workout with him. I thought it was like the most amazing thing ever. I thought I was like working out with Lebron [James], because he was like the best athlete I’ve seen at that moment.” He later claimed, “As long as you earn the trust of ARod and you know the offense and you want to get the ball in your hands and make plays, you’re going to have a great career. That’s what [Cobb] told me.”
- Rashan Gary was asked about the difference between Mike Pettine and Joe Barry’s style of coaching, to which he replied, “High energy guy. I love him. He challenges us to be consistent and to be the best players we can be each and every day. If we don’t have the juice one day, he’s bringing it.”