Including Tuesday, there are just three practices left of training camp for the Green Bay Packers and one preseason game on Saturday against Seattle. Rosters have to be finalized by Tuesday, Aug. 29, and there are still several roster battles taking place into this final week.
As always, here is everything I saw from the sidelines during the Packers Tuesday practice.
— Injury updates: Not practicing today was Tarvarius Moore, who suffered a knee injury against New England. Before practice Matt LaFleur said he would be “day-to-day.” David Bakhtiari was absent again, as was Bo Melton, De’Vondre Campbell, Luke Tenuta, Eric Stokes (PUP), Lew Nichols, Jason Lewan, and Tyler Goodson. Dontayvion Wicks, who left with a hamstring injury against the Patriots was out, as was Henry Pearson with a knee. He also left the Patriots game with an injury.
— Back at practice was Corey Ballentine, Caleb Jones, and Innis Gaines. The recently signed Marvin Pierre was practicing with the linebackers, and Elijah Hamilton with the cornerbacks. The corresponding move to sign Hamilton was the release of Jake Hanson, who injured his shin against New England.
— Rashan Gary was participating in team drills for the first time since coming off the PUP list. In one-on-ones, he beat Zach Tom, then had a pressure and a would-be sack in team drills. It felt like he never missed a beat. Below you can find the results of the rest of the offensive line versus defensive front one-on-ones.
OL and DL one-on-ones:
Walker beats Hollins
Jenkins beats Wyatt
Slaton beats Myers
Wooden beats Runyan
Gary beats Tom
Jones beats Enagbare
Brooks beats Newman
Ford beats Empey
Rhyan beats Slayton
Nijman beats Van Ness
Banks beats Telfort
Moultrie beats Schneider
— Paul Bretl (@Paul_Bretl) August 22, 2023
— The starting offensive line was the same as it has been as of late, with Rasheed Walker at left tackle, Josh Myers at center, and Zach Tom at right tackle. As I wrote recently, all signs point to Myers being the starting center come Week 1. Yosh Nijman was the right tackle with the twos and Caleb Jones the left tackle. Royce Newman and Sean Rhyan were the guards and James Empey the center. Rhyan, in particular, has looked a lot better this summer.
— On defense we saw Rudy Ford spending a lot of time at safety with Darnell Savage. Jonathan Owens saw some snaps as well, but most of his time came with the second unit and Anthony Johnson. The third safety combo was Dallin Leavitt and Benny Sapp. Is it just Ford’s turn again to get some snaps with the starters as part of the rotation? Or is he the front-runner for the starting role? As of Friday, Brian Gutekunst did say that no one has really emerged for that spot next to Darnell Savage, but Ford with his experience in the defense and play last season would make sense.
— It’s been an up and down camp for Lukas Van Ness, but he saw some snaps with the starters today and I thought had his best practice in the last week or two. He was able to get after the quarterback on a few occasions. You can see the rawness in Van Ness’ game. He will need to develop a consistent secondary pass rush move and have a plan of attack. Early on, using him on stunts – which the Packers have – and allowing him to bull rush will be where he makes the most noise.
— It was another really solid day for Jordan Love. Early on, LaFleur said the emphasis was on getting the process right consistently, which will lead to positive results, and right now that’s what we have been seeing. He was accurate, for the most part, attacked the middle of the field, connected on a deep ball to Jayden Reed, went through his progressions, and was in rhythm.
— Running down or passing down, when the Packers are in nickel, TJ Slaton is the one next to Kenny Clark. Early on in offseason programs, you would see Devonte Wyatt next to Clark on passing downs and Slaton on rushing downs, but Slaton has put together a very good summer.
— I’m not sure what to make of where Corey Ballentine and Innis Gaines fit on the Packers roster. Even after missing time, both were immediately back to working with the second team defense and starting on special teams. Both ended up being key special teams players a season ago, and this summer, Ballentine has been on the boundary with the second unit and Gaines in the slot.
— Talk about a matchup problem for defenses, on one play we saw Luke Musgrave out wide and Christian Watson in the slot. The two ran crossing routes. I love the versatility and the mixing and matching that can be done with the receivers and tight ends on this team. We often hear LaFleur talking about the “illusion of complexity,” which in short, keeps defenses guessing, and versatility is key to achieving that.
— The starting offensive line is building momentum. I thought they were very good in pass protection today and carved out some nice running lanes for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
— There was another botched snap from the offense, however. Love was in shotgun and Musgrave was in motion and Myers snapped it into Musgrave as he passed causing a fumble. I’m not sure if this was on Myers, Love or Musgrave, but it’s yet another bad exchange, something that has happened too often this summer.
— I know with Malik Heath’s recent play I’ve seen some conjecture about Samori Toure being a surprise cut, but he is going to be on this team. He has been the fourth wide receiver all summer, has seen plenty of snaps with the starters, and while he hasn’t been flashy, he’s been reliable.
— Another rough practice for Anders Carlson. On the first set of attempts, he was 2-for-3, making from 33 and 47, while missing from 45. On the second set, he was 0-for-3, missing from 50, 51, and 52 yards. Granted, the wind was howling pretty good as he kicked into it, but we’ve seen this inconsistency for much of camp. For what it’s worth, Pat O’Donnell was the holder on the two makes.
— We’ve seen a greater emphasis on blitzing from the linebackers this summer — something I hope carries over into the regular season. And sticking with the linebackers, Isaiah McDuffie has really come a long way at that position since being drafted.
— It’s an area where the edge rusher unit as a whole has to improve, but in training camp, they’ve been stout against the run, doing a very good job of setting strong edges and not letting the ball carriers bounce outside.
— Not surprising by any means, but it was a really good day for Kenny Clark. He was able to clog up the middle on a few runs and get into the backfield. Hopefully with Slaton taking on a larger role, that means more snaps at defensive end and more one-on-one chances for Clark.
— Jayden Reed has been a key part of the offense since OTAs, but his progression between now and then has been noticeable as he gets more comfortable and acclimated with his role. He was very good again today, including coming down with a downfield catch against Keisean Nixon, from the slot.
— Before practice, LaFleur referenced Anthony Johnson’s speed and ability to break on the ball. We saw it against New England, and again to end today’s practice, as he provided help over the top to Carrington Valentine (who was positioned well) on a pass down the right sideline for a pass breakup. LaFleur also added that Johnson has to continue to show consistency on special teams.