GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers will host the New Orleans Saints for joint practices before their second preseason game, coach Matt LaFleur said before Tuesday’s organized team activity.
“I talked to (Saints coach) Dennis Allen yesterday and we’re kind of just working out the details of what days we’re going to practice and how we’re going to practice,” LaFleur said.
Last year, the Packers faced the New York Jets for two days of practices before playing them in the preseason at Lambeau Field.
The preseason game against the Saints will be played on Saturday, Aug. 20. A kickoff time has not been set.
Presumably, LaFleur won’t play his top players in that game, but the two days of work against the Saints will provide a lot of reps against a high-quality opponent but in a controlled setting to help get ready for the season.
“I think it affords you the opportunity for your guys to go out there and compete against something different,” LaFleur said. “There’s a lot of unknown in terms of whether you’re scripting the practices or not. You get accustomed to going against the same looks each and every day, so it brings a different level of competition. And what it really does for us is it affords us the ability to feel like we got good work with our veterans and not have to play them in the game. That’s part of the reason I like those so much.”
In 2019, the Packers hosted the Houston Texans for joint practices. It was the first time in 14 years that the Packers brought in another team for practices.
Aaron Rodgers was a vocal critic.
“I wouldn't mind if they didn't do it for another 14 years,” Rodgers famously said afterward.
He sang a different tune after the practices against the Jets, which were conducted by LaFleur and his good friend, Jets coach Robert Saleh.
The practices against the Saints won’t have such a strong connection between coaches. Allen, the team’s defensive coordinator since taking over during the 2015 season, is replacing longtime Saints coach Sean Payton.
“Look, I’ve never been a huge fan of joint practices, but I think I’ve said as well there’s merit to certain aspects of it,” Rodgers said last year. “It is nice having this defense, which has been going around the league now a little bit, in this week. It’s also nice, the coaching connections with Robert and Mike, and then so many of our coaches know other coaches on their staff, so that part’s nice. They have a good defense. I’m not sure what it was like down on the other end, but our end seemed to be good tempo and it was physical. No fights; Matt’s pretty happy about that. I’m not sure what Robert’s telling his guys, but it looks like we’re avoiding fights, which is good.”
Green Bay will play at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 of the preseason, host the Saints in Week 2 and play at the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. The game at the 49ers will be played on Friday, Aug. 12, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The game against the Chiefs will be played on Thursday, Aug. 25, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.