Friday’s practice in Green Bay was a closed practice to the public, but Packers media members were still there to cover the happenings in the walkthrough. Before the Packers hit the field, head coach Matt LaFleur let the media know that the team will be in shoulder pads on Monday before putting on full gear on Tuesday. Tomorrow’s practice will once again be open to the public.
Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s practice:
Sammy Watkins back at practice. pic.twitter.com/sYJ8dnEIAx— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) July 29, 2022
Four players returned to the field on Friday, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky: receiver Sammy Watkins, offensive lineman Rasheed Walker, defensive lineman Akial Byers and outside linebacker Randy Ramsey. Watkins (NFI, hamstring), Ramsey (PUP, ankle) and Walker (NFI, foot) have been removed from the Packers’ injury lists with their participation in practice.
Thankfully, there have been no major injuries in Green Bay at training camp. The Packers have been gradually getting healthier this week rather than the inverse. The return of Watkins should go a long way as second-round rookie Christian Watson remains on the physically unable to perform list following surgery to Watson’s knee in June. Ramsey, who missed the entire 2021 regular season, has a real chance to make the team as a pass-rusher and special teams contributor in 2022.
According to Andy Herman of Packer Report, the Packers returned to their Day 1 camp lineup of Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Jake Hanson and Royce Newman (left to right.) Per Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, Cole Van Lanen was the first non-“starter” to rotate in with “the ones” when he took over for Newman at right tackle. Interestingly, Newman didn’t kick inside to right guard — the position he started at in 2021 — when Van Lanen spelled him at right tackle. Typically, Newman would have seen those reps over Hanson, who drew praise from LaFleur earlier this week.
Full group of offensive players practicing with the 1’s:— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) July 29, 2022
Jones / Dillon
Lazard / Cobb / Watkins / Doubs / Winfree
Davis / Lewis / Deguara
Yosh / JRJ / Myers / Hanson / Newman / CVL
Herman also noted the full set of personnel practicing with “the ones” on Friday. A couple of points of note here:
- Zach Tom, who saw the team’s first reps at left tackle yesterday, was working with the second group today.
- Juwann Winfree, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, continues to get reps with quarterback Aaron Rodgers over the likes of Amari Rodgers. Mind you, this is with Watson and Malik Taylor injured. If Rodgers is the team’s eighth receiver on the depth chart...that’s a lot of ground to have to clear before final cuts.
Full group of defenders working with the “1’s”— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) July 29, 2022
Lowry / Clark / Reed / Slaton
Gary / Smith / Hamilton / Tipa
Campbell / Quay / Wilborn
Stokes / Jaire / Rasul
Amos / Savage / Davis / Scott
Just as he did on the offensive side of the ball, Herman noted the defenders working with “the ones” in today’s slow-paced practice. Here are a couple of takeaways:
- Rookie first-round pick Devonte Wyatt was not among the four defensive linemen practicing with the group.
- Ray Wilborn, who was on the practice squad in 2021, got the nod over 2021 starter Krys Barnes.
In nickel sets, Herman noted that Dean Lowry actually saw snaps over 2022 signing Jarran Reed, which is a bit of a surprise. From a frame standpoint, Reed is more of the four-down defensive tackle while Lowry is built like a 3-4 defensive end. The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood also stated that the Packers used a four-down front today where the edges were Kenny Clark and Lowry. Green Bay used 4-3 looks sparingly last season on base downs, usually against backed-up offenses, but never did it with four interior linemen on the field.
Today’s practice was much heavier on special teams work than Wednesday’s or Thursday’s practice. According to Schneidman, five players got looks as kick returners: cornerback Rico Gafford, Rodgers, receiver Romeo Doubs, receiver Danny Davis and starting running back Aaron Jones. Gafford got the first crack at returning kicks while Rodgers was second.
In terms of non-return personnel, Wood noted that tight end Dominique Dafney, linebacker Isaiah McDuffie, Barnes, cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles and safety Dallin Leavitt got snaps on the kick return team. None of those players worked with “the ones” on their respective side of the ball but got early special teams looks. Leavitt was recently signed by the Packers after being one of the most-played special teamers for current Green Bay special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia when they were with the Raiders.
On the kickoff team, the players who didn’t work with “the ones” on offense or defense but saw early snaps with the unit were Gafford, McDuffie, Barnes, Leavitt, Jean-Charles and rookie safety/linebacker Tariq Carpenter. If you haven’t deduced this, the big name missing on special teams is linebacker Ty Summers. Summers is in the final year of his rookie contract and has played north of 73 percent of the Packers’ special teams snaps in each of his three years with the team. Last year, only 29 of his 299 total snaps came on the defensive side of the ball. If he isn’t going to “start” on the kickoff or kick return teams, it’s going to be very difficult for him to make the roster behind the likes of De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Wilborn, Barnes, McDuffie and Carpenter, who are all either seeing snaps with “the ones” on defense as linebackers or are “starting” on a special teams unit.