In about 48 hours, the Green Bay Packers will head out under the Lambeau Field lights for one of the annual highlights of training camp. Family Night begins at 7:00 PM Central on Saturday, and it’s clear that both players and coaches are eagerly awaiting their first opportunity to see the stands full since the 2019 Divisional playoffs.
But before Saturday arrives, the Packers held one more public, padded practice on Thursday. There were some highlights across the board, but perhaps the most impressive item of the day was Aaron Rodgers showing off his legendary accuracy in the net drill.
Following practice, the team’s other two quarterbacks spoke to the media and opened up a bit about their relationship with Rodgers and their approach as they head towards preseason action in nine days.
Pre-practice press conference: head coach Matt LaFleur
- LaFleur confirmed that Josiah Deguara would be returning to practice, but would be limited to individual work.
- On Aaron Rodgers mentoring Jordan Love, LaFleur said: “He’s been awesome, just giving (Love) insight on the little things that make the whole operation smoother, that helps all other 10 guys go out there and execute their job to the best of their ability.”
- LaFleur joked that Rodgers “There’s certain plays that we might have two plays called and we have criteria for a certain ‘can.’ And you look out there and Aaron might not fit it to the specific criteria, but he has a reason for why he did what he did.” He added that for a younger quarterback, he would rather the player stick to the explicit criteria for deciding between those plays.
- LaFleur is excited for Family Night, particularly for the rookies, as the energy should be tremendous. “We’re super excited to have our fans back in the stands.”
- As expected, Deguara focused on individual work.
- Jordan Love to Reggie Begelton was the connection of the day, with the two players linking up for several completions throughout the two-hour session.
- DC Joe Barry tried a new package today with Jaire Alexander lined up in the slot for the first time in training camp. Josh Jackson and rookie Eric Stokes were the boundary corners.
- Tight end Jace Sternberger had the catch of the day, hauling in a one-handed grab with safety Henry Black in coverage.
- Stokes had a great rep in coverage against Davante Adams, giving Rodgers no room to fit in a throw to Adams up the sideline.
- Rodgers later hit Allen Lazard for a deep touchdown on a rollout with Preston Smith applying pressure.
- Two-minute drills saw mixed results today. The first-team offense saw a Rodgers-to-Lazard touchdown and an interception on a Hail Mary attempt to Devin Funchess, but Love and the #2 unit were 0-for-3 on their attempts.
Post-practice press conferences: OL Lucas Patrick, QB Jordan Love, QB Kurt Benkert, OL Jon Runyan, Jr.
- Patrick is enjoying the competition across the line and the ability to line up in different positions. “It’s great for everybody” that the team has been rotating many players through the various offensive line spots in camp, he said, adding that getting those rep in multiple places “makes you a better football player.”
- Patrick is also thrilled for the Family Night atmosphere on Saturday, saying “I feel a sense of ownership to put on a show for them,” particularly fans who might not be able to go to a regular-season game.
- Elgton Jenkins came up unprompted, with Patrick saying about him “I don’t know another player who can play all five positions at an exceptionally high level.” He added that this is a testament to the Packers’ coaches, who expect all of their linemen to listen when any one of them is receiving individual instructions.
- Love spoke about his offseason approach amid the uncertainty over Aaron Rodgers, saying exactly what one would expect. “The whole time I had to convince myself that I was going to be the starter. That’s the only way you can kind of look at that situation. If you don’t, you won’t be ready ... If he doesn’t come back, I gotta get myself ready to be the starter.” Love also said he was in the airport on his way to Green Bay when his agent called him to tell him that Rodgers was returning for the season.
- It’s clear that Love is beyond eager to get out on the field and play real snaps in a football game, even if it is the preseason. “This is the moment I’ve been preparing for ever since last year,” he said, and he noted that the last game action he saw was in the 2020 Senior Bowl over 18 months ago.
- Love alluded to Rodgers’ love of Star Wars when discussing the relationship between him and the three-time MVP, joking that the two are “kind of like a (Jedi) master and padawan.”
- Kurt Benkert is loving being in the QB room with Rodgers, but they first met in the men’s room at Lambeau Field: “It was like ‘hey, nice to meet you, but I’ve got to go to the bathroom.’”
- Runyan, who played left tackle in college at Michigan, said he has not taken any snaps at tackle since arriving in Green Bay, but he did snap on the scout team at times last season. He said he thinks he could still play tackle or anywhere on the line, “but that’s not what we need right now.”
- Runyan won’t be trying to trash talk his new center, Josh Myers, about the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. “I don’t really have anything to say. I went 0-5 against them.”