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Five Things To Watch at Packers Minicamp

The Green Bay Packers will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Aaron Rodgers won't be there, meaning three keys days for Jordan Love.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers will open their three-day minicamp on Tuesday. MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t be there; All-Pro Davante Adams and his veteran receiver sidekicks will be on the field.

1. Welcome Back, Davante Adams

Just because cornerback Jaire Alexander will be present, as will Adams and fellow receivers Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Devin Funchess, doesn’t mean they’ll participate much, if at all. Remember, their teammates have two weeks of practices under their belt. It wouldn’t be a surprise if coach Matt LaFleur and the training staff kept them on limited reps or held them to only individual drills. There’s no need to pull a hamstring in June, after all.

2. Jordan Love Will Throw to Proven Receivers

If Adams and Friends practice in some capacity this week, it will be interesting to see if quarterback Jordan Love looks any more comfortable running the offense than he looked during OTAs. In the two practices open to reporters, Love rarely threw the ball in rhythm. Instead, there was a lot of surveying of the field. Was that a sign of a quarterback who lacks confidence to push the ball down the field? Or was that a sign of a quarterback who didn’t have anyone open with all the proven receivers staying home?

Moreover, these will be the seventh, eighth and ninth practices this spring for Love. Theoretically, he should get more comfortable at each practice after getting limited reps behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle at training camp last summer.

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“Some of these plays that we’re asking him to go out there and execute, he may have ran only once or twice throughout the course of the preseason,” coach Matt LaFleur said last week. “I just think there’s a lot of learning going on right now. We want to get it to a point where he’s not out there thinking about his footwork, he’s not thinking about the timing. It’s automatic and he can go out there and focus on the little details.”

3. Will Devin Funchess Practice?

Funchess signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts in 2019 but suffered a broken collarbone in the opener and missed the rest of the season. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Packers last offseason but opted out after a family member died from COVID-19. Then, he skipped the first two weeks of OTAs. When he steps on the practice field, it will be 639 days since the collarbone injury. Never a great player, can Funchess use these three practices as a springboard toward training camp? He’ll need a strong camp to make the roster.

“I’m excited about obviously his physical attributes but also just kind of his intensity and toughness that I think he will bring to the room,” receivers coach Jason Vrable said last week.

4. Who’s the Star?

Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said he’s got four or five candidates to play in the slot – aka the “star” position. Chandon Sullivan manned that role last season, and the team invested a fifth-round pick in Shemar Jean-Charles. If Alexander takes part in 11-on-11, it will be interesting to see how much new defensive coordinator Joe Barry goes with Kevin King and first-round pick Eric Stokes on the outside with Alexander in the slot.

“It’s a unique position because you’ve got to be able to play man, you’ve got to be able to play zone,” Barry said. “And when I say zone, you’ve got to be able to play like a linebacker almost. You’ve got to be involved in the run game and the run fits. We’ll ask our nickel to be involved in the pressure package. It’s a unique position, but we’ve got a bunch of guys that are learning it just like they’re learning every aspect of the back end.”

5. Special Teams

The Packers have challengers for each of their specialists; JJ Molson for kicker Mason Crosby, Ryan Winslow for punter JK Scott and Joe Fortunato for long snapper Hunter Bradley. Crosby, coming off a banner season, is no danger of losing his job. Not so for Scott and Bradley, 2018 draft picks who have failed to perform like even average players at their position.

They did not perform during the two OTAs that were open to the public.

“I tell you, I’m really pleased with their process and the way they came back,” new special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton said. “They’re just homing in on their own internal process, working on themselves. We’re very pleased with what we’ve seen thus far. As you know, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so they have to bring it every day.”