The Green Bay Packers started off Tuesday with a bang when they made a flurry of transactions ahead of the team’s first fully-padded practice. The Packers released tight end Camren McDonald and guard Chuck Filiaga in exchange for center Cole Schneider and receiver Andre Miller.
Schneider and Miller are, at the very least, solves for a problem that Green Bay has in the short term: depth. The Packers only had three centers on their roster before Schneider’s signing and second-stringer Jake Hanson was held out of practice today with an elbow injury, leaving the team with few options but to add a body at the position with four quarterbacks on the roster. The same is true about Miller’s receiver unit, which features two injured rookie draft picks in Dontayvion Wicks (concussion) and Grant DuBose (back, NFI), at the moment.
Beyond the trio of Hanson, Wicks and DuBose, outside linebacker Rashan Gary (PUP, knee) and cornerback Eric Stokes (PUP, ankle) remain sidelined. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, tight end Josiah Deguara and left tackle David Bakhtiari began the practice on Tuesday as full participants before being sidelined, while running back Tyler Goodson was momentarily held out. Bakhtiari had been practicing every other day in training camp and had Monday’s practice off. Sunday was a non-practice day for the Packers, meaning this was Bakhtiari’s first time on the field since Saturday.
By far, the most interesting part of practice today was the rotation at the center position. Up until this point, Josh Myers looked like an uncontended starter in the middle of Green Bay’s offensive line. That all changed today when the second-year Zach Tom got the first nod at the position and spent all of practice rotating in and out at center with Myers.
Myers’ response to the competition hasn’t been great. Twice, once with both Danny Etling and Sean Clifford, the incumbent starter fumbled the exchange to his backup quarterbacks. The 2021 second-round pick has started in all 23 of the games that he’s played in since he entered the league, but appears to be the weaker (not weak) link on the team’s strong offensive line. Questions remain, though, if Bakhtiari is healthy enough to allow Tom to be kicked into center consistently. Center is not a position where you want to see a whole lot of variance week-to-week and there doesn’t appear to be another starting-caliber tackle on the roster to play opposite of Yosh Nijman if Bakhtiari is held out of action and Tom is playing center.
Earlier this week, head coach Matt LaFleur said not to make too much about first-round pass-rusher Lukas Van Ness not playing with the first-team defense, as Van Ness’ best trait is his bull rush — which the team was not practicing in padless practices. Well, on the first day of fully-padded practice, Van Ness got the first nod to work with the first-team defense opposite of Preston Smith. Hopefully, Van Ness can make the most of those reps, as the Week 1 starting outside linebacker job is still very much a question mark as long as Gary remains on the PUP list. Beyond Van Ness, returning players Justin Hollins and Kinsgley Enagabare have rotated with the first-team defense throughout the offseason.
Keep an eye out on fullback Henry Pearson, who according to Packers.com’s Wes Hodkiewicz, got a look with the first-team offense today. Pearson is the only fullback on the roster, though, Deguara is something like a fullback, as he’s been used mostly in the backfield and as an off-ball tight end in his three years in Green Bay. With the release of McDonald, chances are that at least one (if not both) of Pearson or tight end Austin Allen will make the Packers’ practice squad this year, if they are left off the 53-man roster.
Our final note of the day is on rookie kicker Anders Carlson, who had an up-and-down day. In total, he was four of eight on field goal attempts, with no real rhyme or reason for the makes and misses. For example, he hit a 52-yard field goal off of a high snap, according to Packers Report’s Andy Herman, but also missed from 38 yards out, which is a kick snapped from the 20-yard line.
The kicker was impressive during earlier portions of the offseason, but has been shaky during training camp. On Saturday, Carlson hit just two of seven field goals. According to Demovsky’s count, the sole kicker on the roster is now 12 of 20 during camp.