Stop me if you’ve read this before: The defense dominated the offense at Packers practice Monday.
Fortunately for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a successful first practice of camp on July 27 allowed him to get his jokes off about being 1-0 against the “chumps” on defense. Rarely, if it all, would he be able to do the same after any of the practices since.
The big caveat is that Green Bay’s offensive line is without its two best players in David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, and both the starting and second-string units have struggled keeping a suddenly deep Packers defensive front in check.
Such was the case again on a rainy Monday at Ray Nitschke Field, where the likes of Rashan Gary, Jarran Reed, T.J. Slaton and La’Darius Hamilton were in the backfield disrupting plays. Reed might provide the biggest glimmer of hope among the bunch since the Packers have lacked interior depth on their defensive line in recent years. The former longtime Seahawk and offseason free-agent signing has shown why he, like inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell last year, could go from a low-cost depth signing to a key cog for defensive coordinator Joe Barry based on his performance through a week and a half of camp.
“I think I fit in well,” Reed said Monday. “It’s a pretty close group already and they welcomed me with open arms, and I’m kind of close with all of these guys. … I think that we just stay humble and stay grounded and work hard every day. The sky’s the limit for what this defense could be.”
Here’s everything else you need to know from Monday’s practice.
It’s everybody’s favorite part of practice. And this edition of wide receivers and tight ends vs. cornerbacks and safeties was a juicy one.
CB Kiondre Thomas vs. WR Juwann Winfree: Winfree runs a slant-to-corner route (that’s the unofficial name we’re going to use to make it easy to understand) and Thomas falls down (maybe it was the wet field), so Winfree has an easy catch.
CB Rico Gafford vs. WR Samori Toure: Gafford makes a really nice late pass breakup as Toure is hauling it in after a go route down the right sideline. Gafford is greeted by a hyped-up Alexander after the play.
Alexander vs. WR Romeo Doubs: Alexander locks up Doubs on a comeback route and shouts “Come on, Man!” in Doubs’ face after the play.
Jean-Charles vs. Amari Rodgers: Rodgers runs a corner route, but coverage is tight and the throw is long.
S Dallin Leavitt vs. TE Alizé Mack: Mack runs a post route and the ball is underthrown, and my dumb self forgets to mark down if he caught it or not and now I can’t remember.
Nixon vs. Danny Davis: Davis runs a slant and makes an impressive catch through tight coverage.
CB Kabion Ento vs. Winfree: Winfree runs a go route and makes a really nice catch deep down the left sideline.
Alexander vs. Doubs: Doubs beats Alexander off the line and has space on a go route, but he drops the deep ball.
Jean-Charles vs. Rodgers: Rodgers cooks Jean-Charles up the left sideline for an easy catch.
Scott vs. Tyler Davis: Davis makes a catch after creating enough space on an out route.
Stokes vs. Watkins: Stokes jams Watkins near the line and is fired up after the pass falls incomplete on a slant route (I didn’t catch if it was more of a drop or pass breakup).
Carpenter vs. Doubs: Doubs cooks Carpenter on a similar go route down the left sideline that beat Alexander and this time hauls in a deep touchdown.
Vaughn vs. Hyman: Hyman looks to run a sluggo route, but the throw is behind him and falls incomplete.
Gafford vs. Toure: Toure runs a crosser and makes the catch despite the throw being behind him.
Leavitt vs. Dafney: Dafney finishes his impressive two reps against Leavitt with a skinny corner route and nice catch deep downfield.
Thomas vs. Winfree: Winfree slips before getting into his route and the play is blown dead.
Alexander vs. Watkins: Alexander reads the slant perfectly and drops an interception, which he does push-ups for on the sideline.
Leavitt vs. Mack: Mack runs a post route, but Leavitt makes a nice leaping pass breakup.
It’s (preseason) game week.
The Packers visit the 49ers on Friday night.
Here are the 10 players — one in each position group on offense and defense — with the most to prove: https://t.co/TQav3xhEoA
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) August 8, 2022
I still haven’t cloned myself. Sorry. Here are the results of OL vs. DL 1-on-1s, again from my podcast partner, Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber:
Nijman def. Smith
LG Jon Runyan Jr. def. DL Jarran Reed
Runyan def. Reed
Myers def. Clark
OL Jake Hanson def. DL T.J. Slaton
Slaton def. Hanson
OL Royce Newman def. OLB Rashan Gary
Newman def. Gary
Galeai def. Van Lanen
Menet def. Heflin
OL Ty Clary def. DL Jonathan Ford
Clary def. Ford
Rhyan def. Lowry
OLB La’Darius Hamilton def. OT Zach Tom
Tom def. Hamilton
Jones def. Enagbare
Menet def. Ford
Ford def. Menet
Clary def. DL Chris Slayton
Slayton def. Clary
Wyatt def. Moore
OT Rasheed Walker def. OLB Randy Ramsey
Walker def. Ramsey
Nijman def. OLB Jonathan Garvin
Garvin def. Nijman
Walker def. OLB Chauncey Manac
Manac def. Walker
Moore def. OLB Kobe Jones
Moore def. Jones
Some important players in the rehab group this morning. Elgton Jenkins, David Bakhtiari, Christian Watson and Robert Tonyan. pic.twitter.com/pWtig5S3WE
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) August 8, 2022
• Wide receiver Randall Cobb left practice midway through it, but a team spokesman said that was planned for Cobb. It doesn’t seem the veteran’s absence from team drills was injury-related.
• Inside linebacker Ty Summers (illness) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (vet rest) were the only two new additions to the DNP list. Summers was seen in the locker room around reporters after practice, so his illness doesn’t appear to be serious.
• There is no long-term concern over safety Darnell Savage Jr.’s hamstring injury, which he sustained on Family Night during 1-on-1s, but LaFleur said Savage won’t practice this week.
• Alexander was just as good in team drills as in 1-on-1s. His blitz off the edge helped force an incomplete Rodgers screen pass, and he locked up Watkins on a go ball from Rodgers down the right sideline. Alexander was his vocal self on Monday, too, letting everyone know how well he was playing.
• Reed and Garvin had “sacks” on back-to-back plays in a third-down period. Reed even earned a high-five from Rodgers after his.
• The Packers haven’t had a scuffle or fight yet at camp, and Doubs ripping Cole Van Lanen away from a crowd during a backups vs. backups move-the-ball period may have prevented the first.
• During the same move-the-ball period, Slaton “sacked” quarterback Jordan Love, Wyatt’s pressure forced a Love throwaway, Campbell stuffed an Aaron Jones run to the left off a toss and Gary got fired up when Hamilton lit up a BJ Baylor run to the right. Hamilton also would’ve sacked Love in a previous scripted period, but the play ended in favor of the defense anyway when Love stepped up in the pocket and threw one right to inside linebacker (and his high school teammate) Krys Barnes for an interception.
• In the 1s vs. 1s two-minute drill, Rodgers and company started at their own 35-yard line, down 35-28 with 1:04 left. Rodgers began the drive with four straight completions — to AJ Dillon (two), Watkins and Lazard — before throwing incomplete when he ran up to the line screaming “Clock!”, fake spiked the ball on second down and threw it to the flat, only to see Doubs dart upfield and the ball bounce behind him.
• Campbell then dropped an interception over the middle and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray yelled that Campbell owes everyone 20 push-ups for the mistake. After a completion to Lazard on fourth down that might not have gotten the first down in a game (Douglas thought the defense stopped Lazard short, but even if it did, the drill likely would’ve continued), Rodgers threw a Hail Mary pass well past the end zone and a hook-and-ladder from Doubs to Lazard proved unsuccessful inside the red zone as the defense won the first portion of the two-minute drill.
• Love found Amari Rodgers for gains of 16 and 13 in the backups’ two-minute drill, the second of which converted a fourth down. With five seconds remaining on the clock and the ball at the 16-yard line, Love fired into traffic near the goal line, but was intercepted by Nixon.
• Speaking of Love, head coach Matt LaFleur said he’ll start the preseason opener against the 49ers. LaFleur said he’ll decide whether Rodgers will play this preseason after next week’s exhibition against the Saints. Rodgers didn’t play at all last preseason, but LaFleur said it’s possible starters play more this preseason because of how poorly the Packers opened last regular season (38-3 loss to the Saints).
(Photo of Jaire Alexander: Samantha Madar / Green Bay Press Gazette-USA Today)