GREEN BAY, Wis. – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to churn its way through the NFL calendar. Having already claimed the NFL’s offseason workouts and forced teams to stay home for training camp – meaning no joint practices for the Green Bay Packers – the latest fallout could be a reduction of the preseason from four games to two.
While veteran players almost universally hate the preseason, those exhibition games are invaluable for rookies trying to gain experience and fringe players trying to earn roster spots.
The Packers have players on both ends of the spectrum at quarterback, with veteran starter Aaron Rodgers, young backup Tim Boyle, rookie first-round pick Jordan Love and undrafted rookie Jalen Morton.
“It’ll be a challenge but nothing that is insurmountable,” Packers quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator Luke Getsy said in a Zoom call with Packers beat writers on Thursday. “I think you realize you gain more from practice than you probably do from a preseason game.”
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The Packers held joint practices with the Houston Texans before last year’s preseason opener and would have done the same with the Cleveland Browns before this year’s preseason opener.
“Obviously, disappointed we are not going to be able to have joint practices with Green Bay leading up to our preseason game,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said on Wednesday. “I think it is always valuable to work against a different team, a different-colored jersey at that point of camp. I think it is helpful to go against a different scheme. That defensive scheme is different than our defensive scheme that we will be facing in camp so there is some value. In terms of the protocols, whatever the rules are, we will play by the rules. We are like every other team. We are all in the same boat.”
With no joint practices and the potential for a reduced exhibition slate, player evaluation of what happens on the practice field will be more important than ever.
“I think not having an opportunity to practice against some of those other teams that we were planning on doing, that probably hurts a little more than losing a preseason game, to be honest with you,” Getsy said. “It just puts more stress on the practice, and that’s normal. That’s where their growth is going to come. It’s going to come from that. I don’t think anybody’s going to evaluate where they stand based upon a preseason quarter or two or whatever their reps might be. Those are good experiences to get, again, because it gets rid of those firsts, right? I want to get rid of as many of those firsts as we possibly can, but the demand’s going to be in practice. It’s going to be getting them ready to go in practice where it’s full speed, it’s live, almost live periods and all that good stuff. That’s where the improvements are going to come.”