On the final practice of the summer open to the media, the Green Bay Packers made an interesting change: They allowed first-round rookie Lukas Van Ness to practice with the interior defensive line for portions of practice on Wednesday.
Van Ness is a hybrid player, who rushed the passer from multiple spots during his college days at Iowa, but has only worked with the 3-4 outside linebackers up to this point in camp. Apparently, Van Ness took team reps at the linebacker spot but worked with the defensive linemen in individual drills today, per Packer Report’s Andy Herman.
As it stands today, Van Ness appears to be fifth on the Packers’ depth chart at the outside linebacker position, though, it’s not because he’s been struggling in the preseason. He’s made about as many plays as you’d ask out of a recently turned 22-year-old this summer. Green Bay simply has a lot of edge rusher depth right now, as Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Justin Hollins and Kingsley Enagbare all return from an already strong unit back in 2022.
Where the Packers are a little thin, though, is on the defensive line, where they need to replace the snaps of 2022 starters Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry — who both left in free agency this offseason. The starting line is comprised of Kenny Clark, T.J. Slaton and Devonte, with the primary backups being rookies Colby Wooden (fourth round) and Karl Brooks (sixth round). If Van Ness can hold up on the interior, that could be the deciding factor on whether or not the Packers want to keep a sixth defensive lineman, likely second-year nose tackle Jonathan Ford, on their initial 53-man roster when cutdowns come in about a week. Maybe that’s what Green Bay was trying to get an answer on today.
On the injury front, the Packers didn’t get back a single player that missed practice on Tuesday. Those names are running back Lew Nichols, running back Tyler Goodson, fullback Henry Pearson, receiver Dontayvion Hicks, receiver Bo Melton, left tackle David Bakhtiari, defensive lineman Jason Lewan, inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, cornerback Eric Stokes (PUP) and safety Tarvarius Moore. Defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, safety Darnell Savage and safety Anthony Johnson Jr. all left practice with an injury, though, and did not return. At this point, the severity of their injuries hasn’t been confirmed.
According to Herman, the starting left tackle today was again Rasheed Walker, who has been taking snaps there over Yosh Nijman for about a week now. Nijman, the team’s 2022 starting right tackle, currently appears to be the fourth tackle on the Packers’ depth chart. We’ll see if anything changes in the final preseason game of the season, which Bakhtiari will likely be held out of.
On the defensive side of the ball, Rudy Ford registered another start at the safety position next to Savage. Ford, who was the early leader at the position before being tested by Jonathan Owens on the weeks of Family Night and the preseason opener, seems to have the inside lane again. He also made the start in the preseason game last week against the New England Patriots.
Per the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood, outside linebacker Rashan Gary is looking good on the field in his return to full practice. Gary was on a Pro Bowl pace last year before his season ended prematurely with an ACL tear. Looking for a new contract, this is a make-or-break season for the former first-round pick.
Quarterback Jordan Love had a positive day of practice today after the passing offense struggled to move the ball consistently on Tuesday. On the first snap of seven-on-sevens, he threw a 60-yard touchdown to second-round rookie receiver Jayden Reed, who is expected to start in the slot this season. Love also connected on a 30-yard touchdown that Wood called the “best play of camp” for third-round rookie tight end Tucker Kraft. Herman added that he believed that it was a “no look” pass to hold the linebackers from tracking Kraft downfield.
In a must-score situation, with 17 seconds left and no timeouts on the 20-yard-line Love scored on another “wow” throw to second-round rookie tight end Luke Musgrave, who has played every single preseason snap that Love has been on the field for. Unfortunately, the day ended on a less-than-high note for Love, though, as he threw an interception to cornerback Rasul Douglas in a two-minute drill.