The 2023 Green Bay Packers finally put on shoulder pads for the first time on Monday after fulfilling their mandatory four padless training camp practices last week. Tomorrow, Green Bay will put on the lower body pads for the first time, as the team prepares for Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage at Lambeau Field.
The start of padded practices attracted an interesting face to camp: Peyton Manning. Manning was in Green Bay with his production company — Omaha Productions — for a future project, but it has been reported that quarterback Jordan Love will not be the focus of the next season of Netflix’s documentary series Quarterback.
Before we talk about what happened on the field today, here’s the quick injury round-up. Receiver Grant DuBose (back, NFI), outside linebacker Rashan Gary (knee, PUP) and Eric Stokes (ankle, PUP) remain on the injury lists while rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks (concussion) was held out from another practice. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who head coach Matt LaFleur stated would have a “modified” practice schedule this season, did not participate on Monday.
Jordan Love throws Christian Watson a perfect ball pic.twitter.com/oHd1sdTlQS— Caden Sunila- PackOnlyPodcast (@CadenSunila) July 31, 2023
On Saturday, the last time we saw the Packers, quarterback Jordan Love had his best practice of the summer when went a collective 16-of-22 in team periods. Today, he made the throw of the offseason with a 60ish-yard bomb to Christian Watson up the right sideline. Love seems to be stacking positive days, which is all you can ask for out of a young quarterback.
According to Andy Herman of the Pack-A-Day Podcast, the Packers aren’t done with their two-back “Pony” packages in 2023. Per Herman, the “starters” today on offense featured both of the team’s top backs on the field at the same time. The full starters are listed below:
- QB: Love
- RB: Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon
- WR: Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs
- TE: Luke Musgrave
- OL: Yosh Nijman, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr. and Zach Tom
That’s a pretty similar look to what Green Bay has been fielding this entire offseason, with the exception of Nijman starting at left tackle in place of Bakhtiari. It’s also worth noting here that tight end Luke Musgrave got the nod over Josiah Deguara, who was been used as the co-starter at the position with the second-round rookie.
Another player who is getting a lot of burn in camp is Royce Newman, who subbed in as a first-team left and right guard today in place of Jenkins and Runyan. At this point, it’s safe to assume that Newman is the swing guard — if either Jenkins or Runyan goes down — over 2022 third-round pick Sean Rhyan.
Currently, the assumption is that the following players would make up the starting offensive line (left to right): Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Runyan and Tom. From there, the backup tackle would be Nijman, the backup guard would be Newman and the backup center would be Hanson. That leaves one to three more spots on the 53-man roster for Rhyan, Caleb Jones, Luke Tenuta, Rasheed Walker, Kadeem Telfort, Jean Delance, Chuck Filiaga and the newly-signed James Empey to fight for this preseason.
The Packers are apparently running the read option in practice, which might add another wrinkle to Green Bay’s offense. Remember, LaFleur was Robert Griffin III’s quarterbacks coach in Washington when Griffin ran for 815 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2012. All four of the quarterbacks in Packers camp can run, which probably isn’t an accident.
Carrington Valentine with the Pick-6 on Danny Etling during team drills pic.twitter.com/jFt5oQvPjR— Caden Sunila- PackOnlyPodcast (@CadenSunila) July 31, 2023
One of the standouts this summer for the Packers has been seventh-round rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine, who got an opportunity to work with the first-team defense for a portion of Monday’s practice. The highlight of the day, defensively, was Valentine turning a Danny Etling throw into a defensive touchdown.
Valentine has made noise throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp, but Green Bay has a very deep cornerback room that places Valentine firmly on the roster bubble. Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes and Keisean Nixon are virtual roster locks and Corey Ballentine, Shemar Jean-Charles and Innis Gaines also are returning to the unit. Gaines, notably, converted from safety for training camp and is now being featured mostly as a slot defender. With how many safeties that special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia seems to want to roster, there’s a real question about how many cornerbacks can make the 2023 Packers’ squad.
Outside of Valentine’s performance, the defense today seemed to be more of the same. That side of the ball won, again, in the competitive portion of practice today, which was a two-minute drill.
Per Herman, the following players were the “starters” on the day:
- DL: Kenny Clark and TJ Slaton
- OLB: Preston Smith and Justin Hollins
- ILB: De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker
- CB: Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Keisean Nixon (slot)
- SAF: Darnell Savage and Rudy Ford
Slaton getting the nod over Devonte Wyatt, the third defensive line starter in Green Bay’s base 3-4 defense, is somewhat interesting. Outside of that, this has been the unit that has started for most of the summer, as Justin Hollins and Kingsley Enagbare have been rotating “starts” at outside linebacker.