Entering the final week of preseason practices, head coach Matt LaFleur refused to commit to whether or not his starters will be suiting up against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday. In his pre-practice press conference today, LaFleur told the media that he wants to see how the next few practices go and that he’s going to tell his players the team’s plans before he tells the media.
So far, the only starters who have played in the preseason are rookie inside linebacker Quay Walker and the team’s rotating cast of offensive linemen. In each of the Packers’ two preseason games, Green Bay has held out at least 30 players from competition.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst and Milwaukee Bucks GM Jon Horst trading secrets at practice today pic.twitter.com/IROYYIr5Up— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) August 22, 2022
The Packers also had a special visitor at practice today, Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst. Horst helped the Bucks bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Wisconsin in 2021 and was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year in 2019.
Here’s what you need to know about practice today:
LaFleur mentioned in his press conference that the recently-activated offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins and tight end Robert Tonyan, who are expected starters in 2022, were still not going to participate in team drills on Monday. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who was activated yesterday from the physically unable to perform list, was praised by LaFleur, though, he mentioned that he was fairly limited in his return.
The head coach also noted that he has not been updated on safety Vernon Scott’s status. Scott left the team’s preseason game against the New Orleans Saints on Friday with a shoulder injury. Prior to the injury, Scott was the replacement starter for Darnell Savage, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury since Family Night.
Safety Tariq Carpenter returned to practice on Monday, which should help the team’s depth at the position. At the moment, the only healthy safeties who have played preseason reps for the Packers are Carpenter, Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines, Micah Abernathy and De’Vante Cross, with the latter two being recent signings by the team.
For what it’s worth, the Packers will reportedly work out four kickers soon. The team has two open roster spots on their 85-man roster for about the next 24 hours, at which point the NFL’s rosters will be shaved from 85 players to 80 players on Tuesday.
Monday’s practice marked another day where the Packers’ defense reportedly got the best of the offense. According to Packers.com’s Mike Spofford, cornerback Jaire Alexander, who challenged rookie Romeo Doubs last week, was “all over everybody.” In pass protection/pass rush one-on-ones, rookie tackle/guard Zach Tom traded wins with number one edge rusher Rashan Gary, per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Tom has put out some good pass protection tape this preseason and has played left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle at different points this summer.
Following the injuries to Savage and Scott, Davis earned “starting” safety reps next to Adrian Amos in practice today, according to Packers.com’s Wes Hodkiewicz. Davis was the team’s third safety until Family Night, when Scott seemingly overtook him on the depth chart. Hodkiewicz also noted that Gaines, who just returned to practice yesterday, and Abernathy, who was signed a week-and-a-half ago, got the nods as “starters” with the second-team defense. That’s not a great sign for Carpenter, a seventh-round rookie, who is buried in the depth chart even before a potential return of Savage, Scott and Dallin Leavitt from injury.
The hold your breath moment of practice today was when, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, starting defensive end Jarran Reed left the field holding his right arm. He later returned to practice with a taped-up wrist, seemingly avoiding a major injury.
Offensively, the Packers ended their practice on a high note as Spofford reported that the first-team offense was able to move the ball down the field and score in a two-minute drill. Wood also mentioned that receiver Amari Rodgers, who is teetering closer to a roster lock with every preseason performance, is getting carries out of the backfield in practice. Rodgers was used as a live motion player, often out of the backfield, five times against the Saints in the first half after not being featured in that package in the Packers’ preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers.