If you wanted a chance to watch the Green Bay Packers’ starters before the regular season, today, the Packers’ last open practice of the summer, was your last shot to get a glimpse. While the team hasn’t fully ruled out playing starters during the preseason, last week’s preseason opener held out north of 20 healthy contributors on the team. Only the offensive line and rookie inside linebacker Quay Walker were the expected Week 1 starters who played snaps against the San Francisco 49ers.
Not only was today the final practice of the Packers’ camp that is open to the public, but it was the team’s second of two joint practices with the New Orleans Saints, their Week 2 preseason opponent. It was another chippy, defensive day of work leading up to their matchup on Friday.
Here’s what you need to know about practice today:
Before Wednesday’s practice, the Green Bay Packers released receiver Malik Taylor, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Taylor had played 198 offensive snaps and 313 special teams snaps for the team over the last two seasons. With the number of cornerbacks on the team who can contribute on special teams, it’s very likely the team does not keep a non-return man special teamer at the receiver position this year — the role Taylor filled. The Packers’ roster is now down to 84 players, giving them an opening to sign a player before the team’s game against the Saints.
Green Bay avoided a scare as outside linebacker Rashan Gary returned to the field today after being pulled out of practice as a precaution yesterday. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood, cornerback Rico Gafford and receiver Danny Davis missed practice due to ankle injuries. With Green Bay expected to hold out most of their starters in the preseason game against the Saints, Gafford and Davis should impact playing time on Friday. Gafford was a starting outside corner for the Packers in their preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers while Davis saw the field in the first half when Jordan Love was under center.
Elgton Jenkins continues to work with the right-side guys at right tackle. pic.twitter.com/Hw4begiNWm— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 17, 2022
According to Packer Report’s Andy Herman, Green Bay continued to practice with a “starting” offensive line of Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers, Jake Hanson and Royce Newman, the same lineup that started the game against the 49ers in Week 1 of the season. The soft launch of offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins’ 2022 campaign continues to see him getting work in the stance of a right tackle. That could be very telling of what the team thinks of their left tackle situation. The second line, from left to right, was Cole Van Lanen, Zach Tom, Michael Menet, Sean Rhyan and Caleb Jones on Wednesday.
Backup quarterback Jordan Love played well today as ESPN’s Rob Demovsky called his practice-ending throw “perhaps the best ball [Love] has thrown all summer.” In a two-minute drill, Love threw a 50-yard touchdown and the game-winning two-point conversion to cap off the Saints’ two-day practice visit with the Packers.
Outside of Love’s last-minute heroics, though, defenses dominated yet again. According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, Green Bay only did not complete a pass in their first 16 plays of team practice and “runs mostly went nowhere.” On the defensive side, linebackers Gary, Preston Smith, Tipa Galeai, La’Darius Hamilton and Krys Barnes were praised by Wood.
"A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions ... you keep dropping the ball, you won't be out there."— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) August 17, 2022
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is FED UP with inconsistent play from his pass catchers so far in camp pic.twitter.com/uUKFiOUlaT
The Packers do seem to generally be trending in the right direction offensively, as Demovsky notes that the young receivers stated they “responded well” to being challenged by quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ words earlier in the week. Speaking of young receivers, Demovsky mentioned that Christian Watson, the team’s second-round rookie, got punt return snaps behind Amari Rodgers and Romeo Doubs today.