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Packers Practice Notebook, August 10th: Rashan Gary returns, Matt LaFleur talks preseason QB rotation

Expect a healthy dose of Jordan Love in preseason games this season.

Syndication: PackersNews Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Tuesday was the Packers’ first public practice of the week, their first public practice following Saturday’s Family Night, and their first public practice of a preseason week, as the team settles in before Saturday’s game at Lambeau Field against the Houston Texans. The Texans, by the way, won’t be traveling with quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is currently involved in lawsuits alleging sexual assault, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

If you were unable to attend practice, watch the press conferences, and/or follow beat reporters online throughout practice, here’s what you missed.

Pre-practice presser: coach Matt LaFleur

  • Don’t expect Aaron Rodgers to take snaps in the preseason, as the Packers have essentially followed the anti-injury, anti-veteran-wear approach that the Los Angeles Rams instilled under Sean McVay since LaFleur has taken over in Green Bay. On that note, LaFleur stated, “[Jordan Love]’s gonna take the majority of the game and then Kurt [Benkert] will go in there.”
  • With notable names like running back Aaron Jones and defensive tackle Kenny Clark missing practice time following Family Night, where there were no reported injuries, LaFleur was asked about the did not practice list. He said that the injury outlook on those players were “not long-term, but [they] could be out a week or so.”
  • When asked about how important special teams is to constructing the backend of the wide receiver unit, specifically in the case of Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown, LaFleur replied, “I think that’s going to be a big part of it.” That’s something to keep an eye on in Week 1 of the preseason.

Practice

  • Pass-rusher Rashan Gary, who by all accounts has had a great camp, returned to the practice field today after missing the first practice following Family Night.
  • The only new injury in Green Bay is to cornerback Stanford Samuels, who saw playing time in two games last season but may not make the 53-man roster due to a deeper cornerback room in 2021.
  • Cornerback Kevin King, who has missed time due to a hamstring injury, was rehabbing on the field today, a sign that he could be close to returning to practice.
  • Tight end Josiah Deguara, a 2020 third-round pick, was activated off of the physically unable to perform list last week and is continuing to see playing time as a hybrid fullback and tight end. Dominique Dafney, the player who filled that role for the Packers late in 2020, was just activated off of the physically unable to perform list after passing a physical yesterday. Expect a healthy competition between the two for playing time throughout the preseason.
  • In the words of the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood: “Amari Rodgers not just a receiver.” Like Randall Cobb before him, Rodgers is seeing snaps in the backfield as well as at receiver.
  • If Family Night was any indication, the punt returning duties for the team are coming down to Amari Rodgers and Randall Cobb. Today’s practice showed nothing different.
  • With Aaron Jones missing from practice, the Packers were able to more clearly establish a pecking order at running back. AJ Dillon took over “starting” duties, but Kylin Hill is seemingly the team’s RB3 now and moving forward. Patrick Taylor, who started practicing last week, still has an opportunity to make his impact at running back and as a kick returner, though.
  • One of my personal favorites, undersized speed rusher Tipa Galeai, saw first-team snaps with the defense during the Packers’ two-minute drill today. The team badly needs to figure out their pass-rushing plan beyond the Smith Brothers and Rashan Gary, and Galeai might have the raw athleticism to give them that (and special teams reps) off of the bench.

Post-practice pressers: cornerbacks Shemar Jean-Charles and Kabion Ento and defensive lineman T.J. Slaton

  • At this point in time, the plan for fifth-round rookie Shemar Jean-Charles seems to be to allow him to be Chandon Sullivan’s backup in the slotback position, which the Packers are calling the “star.” Jean-Charles spoke on his transition to the slot, after playing mostly cornerback for Appalachian State, saying, “It’s a different ball game on the inside. Receivers have two-way goes, meaning that you can get pretty much any route because there’s no sideline for protection...When you’re playing in the slot, you’re getting shiftier receivers, for the most part...With my ability, it matches up well. I have a lot of trust in my feet and my change of direction as well. It’s been fun making that transition.”
  • Kabion Ento, a former University of Colorado receiver, was the standout player in Green Bay’s Family Night scrimmage last week. He was asked about his transition to the defensive side of the ball, clarifying that he trained as both a receiver and defensive back during his pre-draft process in 2019. At this point, he has fully bought into the idea of being a professional cornerback. “I’m kinda happy to be a DB. I kinda did want to be a DB.”
  • Tedarrell “TJ” Slaton, a rookie fifth-round defensive tackle, explained that speed is the biggest difference between his time in the SEC with Florida and his experience with the Packers. “It’s faster. The tempo is faster. I can definitely say that.”