One more day. One more day until the Green Bay Packers put on shoulder pads for training camp, signaling that the season is finally around the corner. Here’s a look at what the Packers looked like on their first practice of the week leading up to Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage at Lambeau Field.
Pre-practice presser: head coach Matt LaFleur
- On the vaccination status of the roster: “Right now we’ve got 11 guys that aren’t [vaccinated.] So, all we’re going to do is continue to tell them what the protocols are and try to educate guys as best we can and give them information. Then they have to make the decision for themselves.” A message that seems to be ringing through the league: We want as many guys vaccinated as possible, but they still have a choice at the end of the day.
- On Saturday, former sixth-round pick Simon Stepaniak was placed on the reserve/retired list by the team after back-to-back days of being absent on the practice field. Here is the clarity that LaFleur provided: “I respect Simon at the highest level and I appreciate all the work he put in. He worked very hard, obviously, coming back from an injury. I thought he was doing a lot of good things. He had to make a decision that was in the best interest of himself and his family.”
- Possibly joking, LaFleur said, “We could probably line [Elgton Jenkins] up at tight end...maybe we will.” For what it’s worth, newly-signed tackle Dennis Kelly caught a touchdown pass after reporting eligible for the Tennessee Titans in 2019, so it’s not out of the question that the team would try to target either lineman as an extra tight end near the goal line this season.
- Another day, another video of Marcedes Lewis working with young tight ends. This time, it’s a clip of Bronson Kaufusi, a former third-round pick raised in a football family who is converting from the defensive line to the offensive side of the ball.
- Running back Patrick Taylor was officially taken off of the physically unable to perform list and practiced today. This is huge news for the dynamic back and potential return man, as he’s cleared before padded practices begin. Taylor has the potential to make the roster as the team’s third or fourth back, through a summer battle with rookie draft pick Kylin Hill and Dexter Williams.
- In his second day with the team, Dennis Kelly saw first-team right tackle reps with the offensive line. Since, Kelly has been working with the second team. With Kelly as the team’s second-team right tackle, rookie fourth-rounder Royce Newman has been kicked inside to guard.
- Randy Ramsey and Jonathan Garvin are the depth pass-rushers behind the trio of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Unfortunately, Randy Ramsey went down with a left leg injury that required assistance to leave the field. Ramsey, also a special teams contributor, would hurt to lose even at this stage in the offseason. Hopefully, it’s not a major issue, but the Packers’ open roster spot may be needed to address outside linebacker depth in the near future.
- Beat reporter Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Jordan Love has looked inconsistent, but has flashed some upside.
- The Packers’ first two-minute drill of camp, albeit without pads on, ended with Green Bay’s offense kicking a field goal with seven seconds left after safety Darnell Savage both was called for defensive pass interference and then broke up a goal-line pass intended for tight end Robert Tonyan.
- Kicker Mason Crosby made five of eight field goals in the team’s field goal period.
Post-practice pressers: pass-rusher Preston Smith, tight end Marcedes Lewis, and linebacker Krys Barnes
- Preston Smith was quick to note that he was aware that his pass-rushing skills were not overemphasized last season when he was asked to drop into coverage. The veteran stated, “I was a team-first guy. I just did what was asked of me. Sometimes, doesn’t always yield the personal stats that you want, but I came out here and put the team first and I did what I had to do to make sure that, overall, we had a successful season.” He later noted that in 2019, the team was able to use Kyler Fackrell as a dropping outside linebacker, but without Fackrell, Smith had to brunt the duties.
- Smith also claimed, “No doubt in my mind that I knew I was going to be back,” in regards to his status with the team this offseason before his contract was restructured. Making it to an NFC Championship Game, with as many players returning as they did, seemed to be a selling point for the outside linebacker.
- Tight end Marcedes Lewis spoke on quarterback Jordan Love’s progression today, stating, “Obviously he has some ability, but it’s still reps, though. It’s going to be time on task and reps. Last year, Aaron [Rodgers] took the 1 reps, some of the 2 reps. ARod don’t play games.” With Tom Boyle, Green Bay’s QB2 last season, now in Detroit, and only Kurt Benkert to compete with for snaps behind Rodgers, hopefully, Love can see more practice snaps this season before the bullets go live.
- Linebacker Krys Barnes made a pretty big statement in his post-practice presser, claiming he was playing at 245 pounds last season. “I realized I was super heavy last year...lost about 10 pounds. Still have my power. Feel a little bit faster,” said the second-year player. Many questioned if he was playing too light last season, but Barnes claiming he lost 10 pounds and is now down to 235 pounds will come as a surprise to some.