Last season, cornerback Keisean Nixon made jokes about wanting to get work on the offensive side of the ball. On Day 4 of training camp, Nixon took a step to make that a reality when he worked down on the offense’s side of the field for a period.
Questions remain about how many hats Nixon will be able to wear this season, though. In 2022, Nixon handled a half-season of kick return duties — which he earned First-Team All-Pro for — to go along with his second-string nickel corner role. With Eric Stokes (ankle, PUP) still out of practice, this has bumped Nixon into the starting nickel job during camp. Not only has Nixon been working with the kick returners this week, but he also has been fielding punts for the team. That’s a lot of snaps on his plate, without ever playing a single rep on the offensive side of the ball.
Beyond Nixon, here’s what else happened at practice today.
No, CB/KR Keisean Nixon wasn’t lost. He was supposed to be down with the offense catching passes.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) July 29, 2023
Rare to see a green jersey with the offensive guys but Matt LaFleur suggested this offseason he might consider giving the All Pro return man some snaps. pic.twitter.com/nJeLre6ACz
According to Pack-A-Day Podcast’s Andy Herman, rookie third-round pick Tucker Kraft got the “starting” nod with the first-team offense today, along with fellow rookie Luke Musgrave. This is notable as Kraft worked with the second-team offense on Friday while Musgrave, Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis all worked with the 1s.
It’s also worth mentioning here that in all of the Packers’ full-speed practices, the offense has come out in 12 (one back, two tight end) personnel. Last season, Green Bay ranked third in the NFL with 37 percent of their offensive plays being played out of 12 personnel on first down. Might we see an uptick from that number with a young receiver unit and so many tight ends fighting for playing time? Stay tuned.
Elsewhere on the line of scrimmage, Zach Tom once again lined up at right tackle as the primary starter at the position. That’s a role Tom has held in three of the four practices to date, but Yosh Nijman — the incumbent starting right tackle — has been working out there, too. The X factor is going to be left tackle David Bakhtiari’s health and, as LaFleur put it, his “modified” practice schedule.
Somewhat surprisingly, recently-signed quarterback Alex McGough got the nod over rookie fifth-round pick Sean Clifford as the Packers’ third-team quarterback, per Packers.com’s Wes Hodkiewicz. The second-string quarterback job remains in the hands of returning practice squadder Danny Etling.
Only one today because I don't want to get banned sorry packers pic.twitter.com/X4dsgQAqic— Big B (@bigpackers4x) July 29, 2023
All reports on Saturday stated that Jordan Love had his best practice of training camp so far. According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, Love went 16-of-22 on the day and performed well in a two-minute drill to end practice.
Before practice, LaFleur said not to make too much of rookie first-round outside linebacker Lukas Van Ness working with the second-team defense on the first three days of training camp. LaFleur claimed that padless practices mean that there will be no bull-rushing of his offensive linemen, the calling card of Van Ness’ game.
Still, Van Ness finally got to work with the first-team defense on Saturday, getting a few looks opposite of Preston Smith. Prior to today, those were snaps that mostly went to Justin Hollins and Kingsley Enagbare, as Rashan Gary (PUP, knee) continues to recover from his season-ending injury.
One player to keep tabs on defensively is Innis Gaines, who has been working at safety for the past two seasons. Gaines saw a few snaps on the defensive side of the ball last year as a “big slot” when the defense decided to play a lighter box. In this first week at camp, multiple reporters saw that Gaines has been working with the cornerback unit in practice and has been featured mostly as a slot player. Quickly, the cornerback room is becoming one of Green Bay’s deepest groups on the team.
One more practice note. If the Packers need him for whatever reason (injury, roster move, etc), Daniel Whelan can punt. Impressive today both into/with the wind. On 12 punts, he averaged 52.0 yards and 4.56 seconds of hang time. All were swinging away, no pooch/Aussie attemps.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) July 29, 2023
If you don’t want to hear some bad news, close this article up now.
Rookie kicker Anders Carlson, who has been impressive this offseason and even earlier in training camp, had a rough go of it today. The sixth-round pick went one of six today, which is bad no matter the context. With that being said, Carlson was apparently kicking through some wind and at least one of those kicks had a messy snap-hold operation.
Currently, the Packers only roster one single kicker on their team compared to two punters and two long snappers. They also have a roster spot open after the release of outside linebacker Jonathan Garvin. Maybe it’s not too late to bring in some veteran competition.