With the Green Bay Packers one week into training camp as of Wednesday, general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke to the media in the morning to check in on the state of the team. The Packers have held five open practices so far and will have one more before Friday’s Family Night, though the team will hold a closed practice on Wednesday.
In the public practices, however, rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs has been the surprise star of the first week, and Gutekunst spent significant time answering questions about his early impressions of the 4th-round draft pick. Also on the minds of reporters Wednesday was 2021 pick Amari Rodgers, who failed to make a positive impact as a rookie.
Finally, Rashan Gary got a great shout-out from his GM as he heads into his 4th NFL season looking for league-wide recognition. If Gary’s impact in practice over the first week is any indication, he’s in for big things this year, and Gutekunst expects that to be the case.
Here are a number of Gutekunst’s comments from today’s presser.
Romeo Doubs’ hot start to training camp is a product of his preparation
It’s exciting to watch players have good starts ... as the physical toll and the mental toll start to load on these young players, you’re gonna have to see some ups and downs. It’s a great start, it’s a credit to his preparation and how he’s attacked the opportunities.
‘When you scouted him, is that what you saw?’ And that’s what we saw with Romeo. He was a very productive college player, a guy who can win a multitude of different ways, route running speed, power, explosiveness. He’s really attacked it. Matt has talked about his preparation, his habits, and that’s allowed him to take advantage of these opportunities.
Evaluating players from non-Power 5 schools involves focusing on what tape they do have against top competition
You know that every day in practice they’re going against an NFL-type player, so every rep they take, not only in games but in practice, are going against that kind of caliber, that kind of size. When you do go to some different levels, it’s not that they’re not facing good competition, it’s just not as consistently. With any player we’re scouting, the best competition you play is what we’re going to spend the most time on, what we’re going to evaluate the most.
Zach Tom’s versatility is helping him stand out early on
That’s always a tough thing for the coaches when you have a young player, do you leave him at one spot just so he can get comfortable or move him around? I think it’s a credit to Zach, he’s a very smart guy, he’s played a bunch of positions in college. To be able to do that this early, we like the versatility of offensive linemen, to see him go from practice to practice at a bunch of different spots and kind of perform pretty well, that’s pretty exciting.
The tools were there right away with Yosh Nijman, and he’s caught up to them
The first rookie minicamp here, you saw all the physical traits, he had all that, we knew it was just gonna take time to get to where he’s at now ... he’s come a long way and it really is a big credit to his work ethic and what Steno has put into that. He’s really worked his way into a guy who’s gonna have a long career.
Barring injury, Amari Rodgers is a roster lock
He did a great job this offseason getting into a different kind of shape. I never thought he was not in shape, just bigger, had more weight on him. I think the more opportunities he gets, the more you’re going to see him come out of his shell and the more he’ll produce. A lot of these guys, the more comfortable they get in the offense, the more their talent is going to show. I’ve always kind of felt that the middle of year two into year three is when you see most players get to that point where they really know what they’re doing; they’re not thinking any more and just let their talents show.
We’re very, very bullish on Amari Rodgers and what he can do for this football team ... the opportunities you get you have to be prepared for and make the best of those opportunities ... You can’t ask for more than what he’s working. I think in this particular training camp, you’ve seen him make the most of his opportunities. I’m excited for him, not only on offense but on special teams.
Rashan Gary is putting it all together and “wrecking practice”
We do a lot of work on these guys. Rashan’s really taking the path we thought he would. If we hadn’t had Preston and Z his rookie year, he would have had a lot more snaps and he may be a little farther along from “production-wise.” ... He’s getting to the point where all the physical skills, now knows what’s happening on the field before it happens. Yeah. He’s wrecking practice.
New special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia had a hand in the Packers adding some potential key contributors
During the fall last year as we do free agency prep, in our corner room, at the time Rasul (Douglas) wasn’t signed and Chandon (Sullivan) as our nickel, Keisean (Nixon) was on our radar as a nickel and a good teams player. Certainly when Rich (Bisaccia) came and his affection for the player, that was important. And Dallin (Leavitt), being a good special teams player, (after he was released by the Raiders) I could count the seconds before my phone would ring (from Bisaccia) ... those two guys, I’m excited about their ability, not only on special teams but on defense as well.