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5 takeaways from Packers' first joint practice with Patriots

Standout plays in the red zone, a successful deep shot, and some clues with the depth chart


GREEN BAY – The Packers held the first of two joint practices with the Patriots on a warm and breezy Wednesday at Ray Nitschke Field.

Here are five takeaways from the full-pads workout:

1. Jordan Love and the first-team offense were at their best in the red zone.

When 11-on-11 got started, the Packers came out of the gates a bit slowly, with Love throwing several check-downs when nothing was popping open as he progressed through his reads.

But then in red-zone work, on his first pass (second snap), Love hit Luke Musgrave down the seam at the goal line, and the rookie tight end made a leaping catch over the defender. The play was smooth and worked just as designed.

Love explained it was a two-man route concept called a post-corner, where a receiver breaks off toward the corner and the tight end runs the post in the middle.

"The corner (route) took the safety out and Luke was just 1-on-1 with the corner(back) right there, and I got it out a little early before he came out of his break," Love said. "Just put it up and he went up and made a great catch right there in the end zone."

The play seemed to jump-start the offense, as Love followed a few plays later with a TD pass at the front pylon to Romeo Doubs, who made a difficult contested catch and kept his feet in. Love then hit Jayden Reed in the back of the end zone for what was almost another touchdown, but the Patriots defender shoved Reed beyond the end line while he was in the air to haul in the throw.

2. The play of the day was a deep shot that finally connected.

Later in practice, facing a third-and-long, the Packers' top two receivers executed a common concept on which Doubs runs a deep comeback route from one side and Watson runs a deep post behind Doubs, coming from the other side.

When Doubs stops his route, if he draws any deep defenders a step toward him, that can give Watson some room running long. The protection held up perfectly, and the throw was right on the money for what would've been a 75-yard touchdown. Every time they'd tried it, the deep option to Watson hadn't worked in camp, until Wednesday.

"It was fun to hit that for the first time," Love said.

"He's always a threat when he goes deep. The more we build that chemistry and be able to hit those big plays, it's going to be huge."

3. The search for a starting safety isn't over.

Earlier in camp, Jonathan Owens moved ahead of Rudy Ford at safety and was working with the starting defense. Now it's Tarvarius Moore moving ahead of Owens and lining up with the ones alongside Darnell Savage for the bulk of practice.

After starting roughly half of San Francisco's games on one of the league's better defenses in 2020, Moore missed all of 2021 with a torn Achilles and wasn't quite back to himself last season, when he played mostly special teams.

4. There are some clues as to where the depth chart stands at other positions, too.

In the battle for receiver spots after the top three (Watson, Doubs, Reed), three other receivers were taking reps with Love and the No. 1 offense – Samori Toure, rookie fifth-round pick Dontayvion Wicks and undrafted rookie Malik Heath.

Reed appeared to drop out in the latter portion of practice after going to the ground hard to try to catch a deep pass, and Toure replaced him in the last two-minute drill.

In the No. 3 running back competition, Patrick Taylor was the only back aside from regulars Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to take reps with the ones.

With David Bakhtiari sitting out, Rasheed Walker continued to rotate in for reps at both right and left tackle with the first unit in different portions of practice. The No. 1 offense still began the day with Zach Tom at right tackle and Yosh Nijman at left tackle.

Participation-wise, inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell missed practice with an ankle injury, and he was replaced on the starting defense by Isaiah McDuffie. Receiver Bo Melton also sat out with a hamstring injury.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin) returned to 11-on-11 work after missing multiple days of team drills.

5. Rookie kicker Anders Carlson's ups and downs continue.

Carlson had a great start to practice, making all five of his attempts with the wind ranging from 33 to 51 yards.

But at the end of practice, against the wind, he missed wide left from 40 yards after Love used a sequence of passes to Doubs and Watson in the two-minute drill to get into field-goal range.

Then when the kicking team tried a run-on scenario with the clock winding down, he mis-hit a kick from 43 yards that popped up and was batted down by the wind, well short of the crossbar.

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