After almost two weeks of pushups and up-downs at the end of practice, the Green Bay Packers’ offense finally won a competitive period against the team’s defense on Thursday. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as the defensive side of the ball is typically sharper at the beginning of camp than chemistry-dependent offenses, but it’s still good to see the offense is making positive strides.
At practice on Thursday, the team’s final practice before Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage, which will be broadcast locally on the Packers TV Network stations, there were few participation changes. Receiver Grant DuBose (back, NFI), outside linebacker Rashan Gary (knee, PUP) and cornerback Eric Stokes (ankle, PUP), the team’s injury list players, continue to be held out of practice. Left tackle David Bakhtiari had a day off after practicing on Wednesday, while tight end Josiah Deguara missed his first camp of camp due to a calf injury. The silver lining here is that rookie fifth-round receiver Dontayvion Wicks returned to practice today after missing some time in training camp with a concussion.
Now that role call is out of the way, let’s get into what happened on the field today.
The battle for the starting center job seems to be a legitimate competition, as head coach Matt LaFleur said before practice that the team is looking for more “consistency” out of the position. On Tuesday, Zach Tom got the starting nod at center over the incumbent starter Josh Myers, who had some fumbled exchanges with his backup quarterbacks. Unfortunately, Tom wasn’t able to rotate in at center today as Bakhtiari’s absence on the field forced him and Yosh Nijman — the two players also battling it out at right tackle — to play tackle full time.
Elsewhere on the offensive line, second-year guard Sean Rhyan has had an impressive few days of practice. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood, Rhyan has gone 8- 0 in his most recent one-on-one reps. As a reminder, Thursday marked only the Packers’ third practice in shoulder pads and second practice with full pads.
With Deguara missing snaps on offense, Packers.com’s Wes Hodkiewics reported that Tyler Davis got the first crack at first-team reps in two-tight end sets with rookie Luke Musgrave. Davis, Deguara and third-round rookie Tucker Kraft have been rotating in and out of the lineup throughout camp, though, it does seem like Musgrave is going to be the team’s starting tight end.
Another player who stood out on offense today was running back Tyler Goodson, a fan favorite from last summer. The 2022 practice-squadder broke a 38-yard run at the end of practice, per Wood. It’s unlikely that Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon play much in the preseason, which should allow for long looks at Goodson, Patrick Taylor, Lew Nichols and Emanuel Wilson this summer.
The RB3 job is wide open and there does not seem to be a favorite just yet. LaFleur said in his presser today that they want to “feature” a back in each of the team’s preseason games, as they want to get a look at what these backs are capable of when they’re in rhythm.
The defense finally took its lumps today, but there were a couple of points of not on that side of the ball, too.
First, defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt appears to be taking strides, according to Wood. Wyatt has consistently generated praise for his work in one-on-one drills, but coaches have stated that consistency, not flash, is what they’re hoping to see out of Wyatt this season. It’s worth mentioning here that while Wyatt is a “starting” 3-4 defensive end in the base defense, T.J. Slaton got the nod over Wyatt in two-lineman nickel looks opposite of nose tackle Kenny Clark on Tuesday. It’s uncertain if Wyatt or Slaton will get more snaps in 2023.
Second, Jonathan Owens finally got a day of first-team looks next to Darnell Savage at safety, per Hodkiewicz. Owens was an every-down starter for the Houston Texans last season before signing with the Packers late in the free agency cycle this offseason. Up to this point, the day-in, day-out starter with Savage has been Rudy Ford, who started six games for the Packers in 2022.
Owens, Ford and Tarvarius Moore — another free agent signing — are expected to compete for a single starting job throughout the preseason. Moore has not been able to “start” with the first-team lineup yet.
Anders Carlson from about 60 yards. Snuck it through the right upright.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 3, 2023
At the top of the right upright.
It’s a kick on air…but the rookie has plenty of leg. pic.twitter.com/0Bi1U4S3MS
Rookie kicker Anders Carlson’s inconsistent training camp continued today, though, he had better results than in the last two practices. Carlson missed from 41 and 47 but hit from 43, 45, 49 and 54 on Thursday. According to Pack-A-Day Podcast’s Andy Herman’s counting, Carlson is now 16 of 27 in training camp. A 59 percent field goal percentage would have ranked second-to-last in the NFL in 2022, behind just Matthew Wright — who only had four field goal attempts all season.