GREEN BAY – The Packers conducted a full-pads practice of slightly over two hours in duration Monday at Nitschke Field.
Here are five things we learned:
1. It's tough to keep Aaron Rodgers & Co. down for an entire practice.
In a number of 11-on-11 periods pitting the first units, the Packers' defense was getting the better of the offense quite a bit.
Between Rodgers throwing balls away under pressure, cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas breaking up passes, and linemen Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry deflecting throws at the line of scrimmage, there was just a positive play here or there for the offense, and the talkers like Douglas were letting them hear it.
"That's what we feed off of," Douglas said. "Even last week (practicing against the Saints), we seen it. You come out and talk a little bit and make a couple plays, that energy just flows to another person and you just keep going."
The offense did execute well in a sequence backed up near its own goal line, as Rodgers threaded a throw over the middle to Randall Cobb that Douglas nearly intercepted, but instead Cobb snagged it off the deflection.
A similarly tight throw past Douglas to Cobb got the offense moving in the two-minute drill to end practice, and Rodgers continued with completions to Allen Lazard and Josiah Deguara before a run by Aaron Jones got the ball inside the defense's 30-yard line. Calling a timeout with three seconds left, the offense – down by two points – was in position for a 45-yard field goal.
"No doubt that Mason (Crosby) would knock that through," Lazard said.
2. Rookie receiver Christian Watson made his first true splash play.
Before practice, Head Coach Matt LaFleur noted, "You could definitely feel his size and speed out there," referring to Watson's debut in 11-on-11 work Sunday.
On Monday, it was Watson helping the No. 2 offense win its two-minute drill as well, as he went up over cornerback Rico Gafford to haul in Jordan Love's deep sideline pass. Watson went out of bounds after the 25-yard catch to the 15 with two seconds left.
The second-round pick from North Dakota State has been very active with both the first and second offenses as he works to get up to speed following the missed time due to a knee injury.
"The thing that I've seen with him is just mentally the improvement from day to day," Rodgers said, pointing out how Watson on Sunday ran a perfect route adjustment after being told about it for the first time by Rodgers, but another time he missed a signal at the line from the QB.
"I'm going to test him every single day and give him adjustments and things that they might not have talked about, maybe they've talked about, see what the recall is and see how well they can adjust on the fly."
3. The safety position still isn't healthy, but healthier than it was two days ago.
Over the past two days, safeties Innis Gaines and rookie Tariq Carpenter have both returned to practice after missing time due to injuries. That has helped the position's depth in practice now that Vernon Scott, who was working with the first unit, injured his shoulder in the Saints game last Friday.
LaFleur wouldn't rule out adding another safety to the roster to help with the injury situation, but the smaller numbers also are allowing for Gaines and Carpenter to get a bunch of team reps already upon returning.
"You're always looking, but we have confidence in the guys," LaFleur said. "it's given these guys a great opportunity to go out there and show what they can do."
4. The players are getting some time off before the final roster decisions are made.
All NFL teams must be down to the mandated 53-man roster limit by next Tuesday afternoon, but the CBA also mandates a three-day rest period following the final preseason game.
So LaFleur said the players will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off after Thursday night's preseason finale in Kansas City, and he's working on a practice plan for Monday and/or Tuesday so the layoff isn't too long.
5. Various of guests were on hand to observe practice.
Former Packers first-round draft pick Terrell Buckley watched practice and was encouraged by LaFleur to say a few words to the team afterward. Buckley, a cornerback, played the first three seasons of his 14-year NFL career in Green Bay after being drafted No. 5 overall in 1992. He's now the head coach of the Orlando XFL team.
A handful of Milwaukee Bucks executives also were in attendance, led by general manager Jon Horst, taking in the action next to Packers GM Brian Gutekunst.