The Green Bay Packers had their second media-open voluntary practice on Wednesday, which helped answer some questions left over from last week’s open practice. One of the big changes this week was that left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Elgton Jenkins, outside linebacker Preston Smith and safety Dallin Leavitt reported, leaving just outside linebacker Jonathan Garvin, cornerback Jaire Alexander and cornerback Rasul Douglas as the only three players to miss both of the open practices thus far this offseason.
Keisean Nixon, the slot corner and return man, was present last week for voluntary practice but was not there today. According to Andy Herman of the Pack-A-Day Podcast, defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, tight end Tucker Kraft and receivers Grant Dubose and Dontayvion Wicks were present but were also new additions to the injury list.
Now that roll call is over, let’s get into what happened on the field.
With Bakhtiari and Jenkins in practice, we finally got a first look at the Packers’ preferred “starting” offensive line in 2023. According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, who wrote an article about Aaron Rodgers and general manager Brian Gutekunst’s relationship earlier, Zach Tom actually got the first opportunity at right tackle over Yosh Nijman — who signed a $4.3 million one-year contract with the team in April. The “starting” offensive line was comprised of Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr. and Tom (left to right.)
For what it’s worth, it does seem like Tom — who also got looks at right guard last week — is being focused on the right side of the line. When Bakhtiari was subbed out at left tackle, his replacement was 2022 undrafted free agent Caleb Jones, which kept Tom at right tackle and Njiman on the bench.
Herman also noted that Josiah Deguara, the most veteran tight end on the roster, continued to work with the first-string offense during team drills. As we mentioned last week, the Packers seem to be slow playing opportunities for rookies across the board. Eventually, I assume that Luke Musgrave and/or Tucker Kraft will start taking these “starting” reps from Deguara as they prove their knowledge of the playbook.
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, quarterback Jordan Love went 15 of 21 today with an interception during team drills. A 71 percent completion percentage is pretty good, even if both sides of the ball are in shirts and shorts. Hang the banner.
Lukas Van Ness with a gorgeous rush on Yosh Nijman. Legit teach tape stuff. Played the run off play action, ripped through the tackle, exploded to the QB. Fun stuff.— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) May 31, 2023
With Wyatt out on the defensive line, the next man up in base 3-4 looks was Colby Wooden, the fourth-round rookie out of Auburn. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Wooden got a few snaps with “the ones” last week, too.
Per Herman, the linebacker unit, which added Quay Walker and Preston Smith this week, was made up of Justin Hollins, Smith, Walker and De’Vondre Campbell. First-round draft pick Lukas Van Ness continues to flash on the second-team defense, but is stuck behind the likes of Hollins, Smith and Kingsley Enagbare in the pecking order, at least at the moment. With Smith out last week, Hollins and Enagbare handled reps with “the ones” at outside linebacker. It’s interesting that Hollins got the nod with the first-team defense today over Enagbare, who had a productive season in 2022 as a fifth-round rookie.
In the secondary, Rudy Ford, again, got the starter’s share of reps opposite of Darnell Savage today. The second line on the depth chart is currently Jonathan Owens and Tarvarius Moore, two 2023 free-agency signings, but they haven’t been able to push past Ford in media-open practices.
2021 fifth-round pick Shemar Jean-Charles, who is on the roster bubble heading into 2023, was able to get reps with the first-team defense with Alexander, Douglas and Nixon not in practice and Eric Stokes still recovering from his ankle injury. Last week, practice squader Kiondre Thomas got the nod over Jean-Charles at outside cornerback. Today, Jean-Charles got the first-team reps opposite of special teamer Corey Ballentine. Jean-Charles also kicked inside to the slot, replacing Nixon’s spot, when the team was in nickel looks.
In the post-practice presser, head coach Matt LaFleur said that he’s hopeful that Stokes will be able to start participating in individual periods with the cornerbacks by the end of voluntary practices and that Stokes’ recovery is progressing well. Deep exhale, Packers fans.