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5 things learned about the Packers' offseason thus far

News and notes, outside of the draft, since veteran players returned for workouts

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – This marks the third week of the Packers' offseason program, as veteran players returned for voluntary workouts on April 15.

On the final night of the 2024 NFL Draft this past weekend, Head Coach Matt LaFleur and General Manager Brian Gutekunst provided updates on some non-draft topics with the media.

Here's the latest:

  1. Edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare's knee injury might not force him to miss as much time as originally feared …

…with "might" being the current operative word. The initial thought in January was that Enagbare, now a third-year pro, had torn his ACL in the latter stages of the Packers' wild-card playoff victory in Dallas.

It was assumed that would keep him out for most of the 2024 season while rehabbing, but that's not necessarily the case. Gutekunst termed it an "ACL injury" but not a torn ligament, and Enagbare has not undergone reconstructive surgery.

"We certainly feared the worst when he went down," Gutekunst said. "Pleasantly, we got some good news. He's working through that right now. We're very hopeful he'll be able to avoid surgery, but we'll see how that goes."

The GM did not specifically say Enagbare's potential availability for the coming season factored into not selecting an edge rusher with any of Green Bay's 11 picks, but it's logical to conclude it made the roster need at the position less acute.

"He looks pretty good right now," LaFleur said. "He's still fighting his way back. He's still rehabbing through it, and we're still optimistic about it."

  1. The health reports on receiver Christian Watson and cornerback Eric Stokes are positive as well.

Watson has dealt with recurring hamstring trouble through his first two seasons in the league, while Stokes had multiple bouts with hamstring issues last season after a long and arduous recovery process from midseason 2022 knee and foot injuries.

"He looks great," LaFleur said of Watson. "He's had a really good start to the offseason. We've just got to keep it going that way."

Same with Stokes, who has "been full-go."

All the good news comes with the caveat that offseason workouts are non-contact and non-competitive, with no players lining up across from one another until OTAs in late May, and even those will be non-padded practices.

But Gutekunst gave a strong vote of confidence in particular to the cornerback room with a healthy Stokes, 2023 seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine looking to build on an impressive rookie season, and veteran Corey Ballentine returning to provide veteran depth.

The Packers didn't draft a corner until their 11th and final pick, when they took Penn State's Kalen King with the 255th overall selection.

"Obviously Valentine played exceptionally well last year for us and Eric looks very good right now," Gutekunst said. "We brought back Corey who played some really good football for us, so I like our depth there. I feel pretty good about it.

"We wouldn't have shied away from adding if (the draft) would've fell that way but it just didn't. At the same time, I didn't feel an overwhelming need to be aggressive toward that position because I really like the guys in that room."

As for the No. 1 corner, Jaire Alexander, he showed up for offseason workouts Day 1 after skipping them last season and foregoing a contract bonus in the process.

"Jaire's been outstanding," LaFleur said. "He looks great, he looks like he's in great shape. He's really been busting his butt. He's been the leader we expect him to be."

  1. The transition to new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley's scheme is just getting started.

The first two weeks of offseason workouts are limited to strength and conditioning. This third week marks the beginning of players working directly with their position coaches and coordinators, which will keep Hafley and his mostly new defensive staff busy.

"The vision is there," LaFleur said. "It's already laid out, mapped out, and now it's about the execution of that vision. It's teaching our players their assignments, what coverages, what fronts we're going to run, and then just trying to get everybody to play to a certain style."

There's a combination of patience required and urgency demanded – in the limited (via CBA) hours coaches can spend with players at this stage – to make enough progress in order to maximize on OTAs later this spring.

"You have to go through the whole process," LaFleur said. "There's going to be some learning along the way."

  1. Details on the Packers' upcoming Brazil trip remain in flux.

LaFleur said a number of logistics have yet to be worked out to get the Packers to Brazil for their Week 1 matchup with the Eagles in early September. He's leaving that to others and promising a more positive outlook about this trip than when the Packers gave up a home game to go to London in October two years ago.

"We will embrace this, absolutely," said LaFleur, emphasizing that it's to the Packers' advantage to not have to play what would've been a road game in a hostile environment like Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

"Hopefully, it'll be a home crowd for the Green Bay Packers."

  1. No one knows exactly what it's going to look like, but the 2025 NFL Draft in Green Bay will really be something.

Speaking of details to sort out, the league has plenty before next year's draft in Titletown, but the anticipation will begin building soon enough.

"What did they say, over 700,000 attended the draft?" LaFleur said of this year's three-day event in Detroit. "I can't imagine that many people in Green Bay, but it's going to be interesting. I think it's going to be exciting for the community."

Added Gutekunst: "I mean, it's turned into something that I don't think I could have ever predicted when I first started in this, that there would be that many people and that much excitement for the live part of the draft.

"But what it's going to do for this city, this town, I think it's exceptional and really excited to see how it all transpires and how they handle it."

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