Monday marked the first time that the 2022 Green Bay Packers were able to put on their shoulder pads, with full pads set to go on tomorrow. As head coach Matt LaFleur stated on Saturday, the team is about halfway through their installs and will have a bow tied on this phase of camp when the team hits the field for Family Night on Friday.
In an unsurprising turn of events, the Packers' defense, which comes into the season with high expectations, finally started getting the best out of the offense today, now that they aren't in just helmets and shirts. If you missed practice today, here's what you need to know:
Defensive lineman Akial Byers (hamstring) returned to the field today, the only change in participation between Saturday's and Monday's practices. The following players are still injured: running back Kylin Hill (PUP, knee), receiver Christian Watson (PUP, knee), receiver Malik Taylor (shoulder), tight end Robert Tonyan (PUP, knee), tackle David Bakhtiari (PUP, knee), offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins (PUP, knee) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (NFI, groin), per Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Sports Illustrated's Bill Huber tweeted this morning that his hot take is that Bakhtiari will be able to return to the team by Week 1 and start every game this season. With Jenkins' rehab looking good, it would be a major boon to the offense if they can add those two back in the mix before the regular season kicks off against the Minnesota Vikings.
Receiver Sammy Watkins, who returned to the practice field on Friday, finally saw team reps today. Prior to Monday, he had only worked with the team in individual drills, as he eased his way back onto the field following his hamstring injury.
The offensive line once again rotated back to a familiar crew, with Yosh Njiman, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Jake Hanson and Royce Newman (left-to-right) getting looks with "the ones," per Packer Report's Andy Herman. The team has been alternating between that lineup and one featuring rookie Zach Tom as the team's left tackle, kicking Nijman to right tackle and pushing Newman inside to right guard for Hanson. It seems like when the Packers do get healthy, Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Hanson, Newman and Tom will be their top eight linemen. That leaves Cole Van Lanen, a second-year sixth-round pick, and Sean Rhyan, a rookie third-round pick, as the players who most likely make the team as reserves/developmental prospects.
The offense, in general, was sloppy today, which shouldn't be surprising considering it is Day 1 of pads. Packers.com's Mike Spofford noted that the team had pre-snap penalties early on in practice and then dropped balls and took sacks in a goal-line period. Herman also mentioned that offensive lineman Michal Menet, who is trying to play himself back onto Green Bay's practice squad as a center/guard, had multiple high snaps today.
For the second practice in a row, cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles got reps with "the ones" joined by inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie and cornerback Rico Gafford, per Herman. Gafford, who is transitioning from receiver and seeing return reps on special teams, opened up the two-minute period with a pass breakup, according to Packers.com's Wes Hodkiewicz.
If you're keeping track at home, these are the players who have reportedly worked with "the ones" this training camp, by position:
- DL: Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, TJ Slaton and Devonte Wyatt
- OLB: Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, La'Darius Hamilton, Tipa Galeai and Kingsley Enagbare
- ILB: De'Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Ray Wilborn and McDuffie
- CB: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Jean-Charles and Gafford
- SAF: Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Shawn Davis, Vernon Scott and Dallin Leavitt
Nixon is still injured, and he figures to be in the mix as the fourth or fifth cornerback on the team, but the list of 25 players above will be roughly the same number of defenders who will make the Packers' 53-man roster. It's still early, but the framework of cutdowns is already taking shape.
Gary continued a strong summer with another impressive day today, consistently showing he can get to the quarterback and even rallying up the troops when the second-team defense was out on the field. Behind him, Herman noted that Hamilton and Galeai had a nice day getting after the quarterback. Outside linebacker might be Green Bay's thinnest position of any unit, so it's nice to see Hamilton and Galeai making the most of their chances.
Undrafted rookie long snapper Jack Coco is consistently getting the first crack to work with kicker Gabe Brkic with Crosby on the physically unable to perform list. At this point, it seems like it's Coco's job to lose to the incumbent Steven Wirtel.
Brkic went five-of-six on field goals between 45 and 52 yards today and kicked a 28-yard field goal in a two-minute period once the offense sputtered. Pat O'Donnell, the team's only punter, looked good today with his booming leg per Herman.