GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are opening training camp with four consecutive practices. It’s the only such stretch of the summer.
With a demanding start, coach Matt LaFleur cut back on the tempo and duration of Friday’s practice. He’ll ratchet up the intensity for Saturday. A day off on Sunday leads into Monday’s first padded practice – the true start of the road to determining depth chart battles and roster decisions.
“I don't want to ever put our guys in a position where it puts them at risk,” LaFleur said. “Obviously, every time you go out on that field there’s always a risk, but I think we’re always pretty mindful of the third day in a row.”
Aaron Rodgers on Pitch Count
Never mind his contract situation. At age 37, there comes a time to realize Aaron Rodgers is getting up there in years and his arm will be much more valuable for a game in December than some random July training camp session.
So, a member of the staff is counting Rodgers’ throws to make sure it’s strong for when it matters.
“I think we’re mindful of that with all our quarterbacks,” LaFleur said. “Having three quarterbacks, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the arm and we don’t want to burn them out too early. He and I did talk about exactly what number we’re looking for each day or being below a certain number. So, we’ve got a guy out there that lets me know when we’re at that halfway mark, and then I relay that to Aaron.”
Crash Course for Randall Cobb
Veteran receiver Randall Cobb made his Packers debut on Thursday and was back on the field on Friday. He’s got a lot to learn, obviously, and is behind having not been on the roster for the May and June installs.
From one perspective, Cobb has so much experience with Rodgers that he could probably be in the right place at the right time in his sleep. Not to mention there are 45 days until the season opens at New Orleans. On the other hand, Cobb’s experience won’t mean a hill of beans if he doesn’t know the plays.
So, which approach is LaFleur taking with Cobb? Learn the offense ASAP? Or, learn it as you go because time’s on your side?
“There’s definitely a strong sense of urgency,” LaFleur said. “I know he came in early this morning and met with (receivers coach) Jason Vrable, so I know he is working hard at making sure that he picks it up as fast as possible. The one thing that we do have for these guys is we have most of our installs videotaped. So, he’s got access to all those tapes, and I know he’s putting in the time at night when he’s on his own watching those just to try to get up to speed as quickly as possible.”
It's Early, But Beware the Bubble
The Packers ended the day with a long jog-through sequence. Starters and key backups were on one side of the field; players down the depth chart were on another part of the field.
Obviously, it’s incredibly early in training camp and there are joint practices and preseason games coming up to give players a chance to move up the depth chart. However, the 33 players who were participating in the “other” practice included late-round rookies Shemar Jean-Charles and Cole Van Lanen, 2019 sixth-round cornerback Ka’dar Hollman, 2020 fifth-round inside linebacker Kamal Martin, 2020 seventh-round outside linebacker Jonathan Garvin, as well as returning receivers Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor.
Play of the Day
There wasn’t a lot to choose from, so we’ll take the one with the most to discuss.
During a red-zone period, Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams on a corner route against first-round cornerback Eric Stokes for a touchdown. It was typical Rodgers-to-Adams brilliance. The route was great, the throw was perfect.
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Introducing the Week 2 opponent, the Detroit Lions, a group that includes quarterback Jared Goff, running back Jamaal Williams and a shaky secondary.
Earlier in the week, LaFleur said part of training camp was about putting players in uncomfortable positions and seeing how they react. Well, with the defense blitzing, how about leaving a rookie corner on an island against perhaps the best quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL? That uncomfortable enough?
“That’s the best way,” All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander said. “It’s always good for one to learn from their own mistakes.”
Meanwhile, perhaps the best red-zone offense in NFL history produced touchdowns on four consecutive plays. Rodgers connected with tight end Robert Tonyan vs. tight coverage for the first, rookie Amari Rodgers got behind the defense on the second, the aforementioned Adams catch vs. Stokes was the third and tight end Jace Sternberger scored the fourth.
Packers Injury Report
New Injuries: G Simon Stepaniak, TE Isaac Nauta and TE Marcedes Lewis missed practice. For Lewis, it presumably was a veteran’s rest day.
Old Injuries: None.
Returned to Practice: None.
Non-Football Injury List: CB Kevin King, S Will Redmond, S Henry Black, OLB Za’Darius Smith, LB Isaiah McDuffie, DT Kingsley Keke.
Physically Unable to Perform List: RB Patrick Taylor, TE Dominique Dafney, LT David Bakhtiari, TE Josiah Deguara.
Some Quick Reads
– Little has changed on the offensive line. Elgton Jenkins continues to be the No. 1 left tackle, with Ben Braden and Jon Runyan tag-teaming the left guard reps in Jenkins’ absence. Lucas Patrick is working as the No. 1 right guard and the No. 3 center.
– On the first play of a period, Aaron Rodgers went deep and hit Davante Adams in stride. Adams was typically smooth; cornerback Josh Jackson typically flailed.
– A few plays later, Rodgers hit Amari Rodgers on the move over the middle for what would have been a nice gain had Amari Rodgers not fumbled. Linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Ty Summers were in the neighborhood of where the ball was stripped. Campbell, for what it’s worth in noncontact practices, has been impressive.
– Simultaneously on the other side of the field, No. 2 quarterback Jordan Love booted to his left and was slightly off-target with a pass to Bailey Gaither, who couldn’t make the reaching grab. Cornerback Kabion Ento had the quick reflexes for the interception.
– Safety Innis Gaines made excellent plays on back-to-back snaps. On the first, he almost intercepted another Love pass to Gaither. On the next, he had excellent coverage to prevent a completion to receiver DeAndre Thompkins.
–It is only a position drill, but check out the filthy spin moves by AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams in the video.
Packers Training Camp Schedule
The Packers will hold their fourth practice of training camp on Saturday at the usual starting time of 10:10 a.m. The team will be off the practice field on Sunday before putting on the pads for the first time on Monday. The team will practice again on Tuesday and Thursday to set the stage for next Saturday’s Family Night.