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5 things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 2

Lighter, faster Amari Rodgers feels a difference this summer

WR Amari Rodgers
WR Amari Rodgers

GREEN BAY – For the first time in training camp, the Packers practiced in full pads at Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Amari Rodgers is feeling a difference with improved cardio.

The 2021 third-round pick made it his goal to report to training camp lighter than he did last year, and Rodgers hit the mark when he returned at 202 pounds.

After playing as heavy as 218 last season, the second-year receiver has felt an improvement in both his speed and cardio through the first week of training camp.

Rodgers credits his improvement to his offseason training with former Olympic gold medalist Dwight Phillips in Atlanta. With lingering disappointment from his rookie campaign, Rodgers mentioned to Phillips how fatigued he felt in games, even when he wasn't playing much.

"I knew it was because of my weight but I also knew it was because of my conditioning. I didn't really condition last offseason like I wanted to," Rodgers said. "So he put a plan together for me, just for speed and endurance and doing workouts for power and sprinting. … By the end of it, I felt like I could run a track meet."

Phillips and Rodgers devised a plan that worked in concert with the goals of the Packers, which included a rigorous meal plan and track workouts three or four times a week.

Better conditioning has lifted Rodgers' confidence this summer. He's competing to earn not only more reps on offense but also a more defined role on special teams.

"I think Amari had a really good day (Monday), not only what he's shown on 'We-fense,' but also on offense as well," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said, the moniker a reference to special teams. "Some of the effort he displayed out there was pretty gritty, which is something that we want from the entire receiving room. I think a lot of times the receivers help establish your identity as an offense in just how tenacious they in both the run game and in the pass game."

There's still a long way to go in both the receiver and returner competitions but the 5-foot-9 Rodgers has a unique skill set that separates him from his peers. The key continues to be confidence.

Asked to compare where his head is today compared to last October when he was forced in against Arizona due to injuries, Rodgers says it's a "night and day" difference.

"I feel like that game was like a freshman being thrown into a top-five matchup in college football," Rodgers said. "I really wasn't ready. I can say that now. I wasn't ready. Now, I know I've prepared, and I've put the work in this offseason and I'm ready for any situation now for sure."

2. Zach Tom was back on the move Tuesday.

After working as the No. 1 left tackle at times previously, the Packers' rookie fourth-round pick flipped over to right tackle for the first time. Tom had been alternating between first-team left tackle and second-team left guard through the first five practices.

"I've been out there with ones a couple practices before this but that was my first time playing right tackle," Tom said. "It was a little different. It's kind of weird having to change sides because everything's the opposite. Just getting used to that was probably the main challenge of the day."

Tom held his own in team periods and one-on-one pass-rush drills, where he was pitted against veteran outside linebacker Preston Smith.

With Tom at right tackle, Yosh Nijman was stationed at left tackle with Jon Runyan, Josh Myers and Royce Newman holding down the interior, left to right.

The second-team offensive line consisted of left tackle Cole Van Lanen, left guard Ty Clary, center Jake Hanson, right guard Sean Rhyan and right tackle Caleb Jones.

3. Romeo Doubs continues to make plays and stack days.

The Packers' rookie receiver once again made the biggest play of practice.

In a late goal-line period, Doubs caught a liner from quarterback Jordan Love and managed to get both feet down inbounds near the back of the end zone.

Cornerback Rico Gafford, who had good coverage on the play, tapped Doubs on the helmet afterwards in congratulations for making the bang-bang play.

"Jordan threw a great ball," Doubs said. "I was able to put myself in the position where I can get my two feet inbounds because I know that's the biggest difference from college into the NFL, just the feet."

In one-on-one drills, Aaron Rodgers also hit Doubs on a deep go route for a would-be touchdown against starting cornerback Eric Stokes.

"Just the way he's catching the ball," said Love when asked what stands out the most about Doubs. "He's making those contested catches and those tough plays, and he's making it look easy, It's not easy to do."

4. The Packers' starting defense continues to set the tone.

The defense didn't force any turnovers but still made its fair share of big plays.

Linebacker De'Vondre Campbell had one of the most athletic plays of camp when he leapt while in zone coverage to break up a Rodgers passed intended for Doubs.

Later in the one-on-one blitz period, fellow inside linebackers Quay Walker and Krys Barnes also had strong showings.

After making his presence felt in one-on-ones, Rashan Gary split a double-team by Nijman and Jon Runyan to force Rodgers into throwing an incompletion through the back of the end zone.

"We're fast, physical. We're close," said defensive lineman Jarran Reed. "Everybody is congratulating each other when we make plays. It's fun being on this defense. I really like it."

5. Young DBs received extra reps with the No. 1 defense.

With the Packers choosing to hold All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander out of team periods on Tuesday, Shemar Jean-Charles and Vernon Scott took reps with the first-team defense.

Jean-Charles relieved Alexander outside in the nickel package, with Scott subbing in with the six-DB dime unit.

Scott made perhaps the biggest play of Monday's practice when he intercepted quarterback Jordan Love to end a two-minute period with the No. 2 offense and defense.

Alexander, whose absence was non-injury related, participated in individual drills on Tuesday. Center Cole Schneider didn't practice after injuring his ankle Monday, while tight end Marcedes Lewis was given a veteran rest day.

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