GREEN BAY – The Packers' first practice of training camp in 2020 is in the books, and there was plenty to keep an eye on.
Here are five things learned from the first day back on the field.
1. The competition on the offensive line is off and running.
The Packers started trying different combinations on the right side of the offensive line immediately, rotating throughout the workout. Billy Turner was at right tackle with Lane Taylor at right guard, Turner was at right guard with Rick Wagner at right tackle, and Taylor was at right guard with Wagner at right tackle. Three players for two starting spots, and it might not be settled for quite a while.
"We're going to keep shuffling that line along until we feel good about it and know that we're headed in a certain direction," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "At least for the next couple of weeks, it's definitely going to be a competition each and every day."
Nothing will be decided until several padded practices have been conducted, and the first one of those will be sometime next week. However it shakes out, quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed a comfort level with all the linemen in the mix being experienced pros.
"I think we have a good dilemma when you've got so many guys who can play and have started games in the NFL," he said.
2. Even though it was expected, no fans, no bike rides, and no noise at the first practice was still odd.
"It's strange, very strange," Rodgers said. "I think there's a sadness around it, just because when the normalcy gets radically changed, nostalgically you miss some of those really fun traditions that kind of make Green Bay, Green Bay."
Rodgers did talk about how he still keeps in touch with his bike kid from his first three seasons in the league (he's apparently 30 years old and playing in a West Coast band), and how he'd come to appreciate the ovation he gets from the fans when he first arrives at the practice field, calling it "something special."
LaFleur has stressed to the players it's up to them to summon their own energy to practice and play at the required level.
"It's all about us, you know?" said inside linebacker Christian Kirksey, who had his first practice in a Packers uniform. "We know the circumstances that we're going to play in. But this is where you've got to dig deep and you've got to tell yourself, 'This is the reason why you play the game.' And it's just for the love of the sport.
"Every time we step out on that field, we want to create an atmosphere to where we're competing and we're trying to be the best and we're trying to win at everything we do."
3. Pre-snap penalties and normal first-day sloppiness was kept to a minimum.
The offense had just one delay of game penalty and no false starts. The defense never jumped offside. LaFleur termed it a "pretty clean practice."
"I felt like it was sharp," Rodgers said. "There weren't a lot of guys on the ground, we were moving around pretty good, we were pretty efficient at times. That's how we want it to look.
"I think a lot of it on offense is it's the second year. We're just more comfortable in the offense and feeling a little bit better about play selection, timing, responsibilities on each play."
4. As expected, Chandon Sullivan lined up with the No. 1 defense as the nickel corner.
Linebacker Oren Burks also took first reps alongside Kirksey in the base defense, but it's Sullivan stepping in for veteran Tramon Williams that could become the most prominent lineup change on defense among returning players.
"It just shows that my hard work is starting to pay off," said Sullivan, who entered the league undrafted with the Eagles in 2018, came to the Packers last season, and played in every game last year, intercepting one pass. "I'm just trying to gain respect in this league and prove that I belong. I've been confident in myself ever since I got into the league."
Sullivan also echoed his fellow defensive backs in praising the early tutelage he's received from new secondary coach Jerry Gray.
"In the mental aspect, the last few weeks he's been here, my game's already elevated," he said. "I'm able to play the game before the snap's even played. It starts with your head."
5. Rookie running back AJ Dillon's powerful legs are impossible to miss, and they make an impression on everyone who sees the 247-pound ball carrier.
LaFleur: "He has got some massive legs. We have not seen a running back built like that – not in my career – that I've been around."
Rodgers: "Yeah, he's a large man. He walks around pretty comfortably at 250 for a back and moves really well. Big legs, big calves. He's a well-built guy. It'll be exciting to see him get up to speed mentally. That's going to be his biggest hurdle, especially with the guys in that room who have a pretty good comfort within the offense. But he's a big boy."
Kirksey: "As a linebacker, you want to man up and say, 'If I see you in the hole, I'm going to hit you up top.' But when you see how big he is, you've almost got to go low. But then you look at his legs, and he's got tree trunks. So you might want to think twice with that, too.
"I'm excited to see what he brings to the table. He's an extremely good guy. You see that, his personality. He's kind of quiet, but he's all about business. So I'm eager to see how he plays and be a one-two punch with Aaron (Jones)."
The Green Bay Packers held their first practice of training camp at Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.