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5 things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 23

Green Bay embraces the heat; Jordan Love readies for Seahawks

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – The Packers' last public practice of training camp also was one of their hottest.

Here are five things we learned from Wednesday's workout at Ray Nitschke Field:

1. The Packers fully embraced the warm temperatures.

It was a balmy 89 degrees when Green Bay hit the practice field at 11 a.m. CT, which was moved up from a noon start time due to the conditions. There was some cloud cover and a slight breeze to make things a bit more tolerable, though.

The Packers practiced for right around two hours, with Head Coach Matt LaFleur cautioning players to stay properly hydrated going into the day.

"You deal with it. It's part of the circumstances," LaFleur said. "We talk about competitive greatness, being your best when your best is required, regardless of the circumstance. That's the situation, so we've got to get our mind right for that. Hopefully, we gave the guys a heads-up yesterday in terms of making sure that you get the proper nutrition, the proper hydration so that it's a non-issue."

There were no apparent cramping issues during practice and the training staff had cold tubs available for players after practice, which were heavily populated. Quarterback Jordan Love felt the entire team was prepared and locked in on its preparation.

"I think just staying mentally focused," said Love of the temperature challenge. "Everybody's gonna be tired. Everybody's gonna be drained. It's just trying to stay focused when you get tired, when you get exhausted. Obviously, a little bit different day with the heat. But just mental focus."

2. Love is ready for the preseason finale against Seattle.

The Packers quarterback has one final checkpoint this Saturday before the start of the regular season. While it's uncertain how much Love and the starting offense will play against the Seahawks, LaFleur stated earlier this week he intends for that group to play.

Love likes what he's seen this summer from the No. 1 unit, including how second-year receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs have stepped up and set the tone for an offense heavy on youth.

Love has been steady in his two preseason appearances, completing 12-of-18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns (124.8 passer rating). After a productive practice on Wednesday, including a back-of-the-end-zone strike to rookie tight end Luke Musgrave in a situational period, Love wants to "just keep building what we're doing out there."

"I think throughout every day, we're continuing to stack, build as an offense, (and) build that chemistry," Love said. "We have our whole playbook in now. It's good to be able to see guys. We're doing a lot more move-the-ball periods where things aren't really scripted. We're kind of just playing off Matt's calls, which is more game-like."

After practice, Love led the team around Nitschke Field to shake hands and give high-fives to thank the fans who showed up Wednesday. As he settles in as Green Bay's new QB1, Love feels comfortable in the increased spotlight.

"I think all training camp, that's kind of been my mentality to just soak it in, enjoy this opportunity," Love said. "You never know how long it's going to be, how long it's going to last, so just come in here and enjoy every day being the starting quarterback.

"When I'm out there on the field, I still kinda just block that out and try and lock in best I can, which is not easy, but it's something that I just wanted to keep working on."

3. Sean Clifford again seized the moment during two-minute.

The backup quarterback was locked in when the No. 2 offense took the field for the final two-minute period, igniting the series with a 33-yard pass to receiver Jadakis Bonds on a deep corner route.

It looked like all Clifford and Co. might get for a second. With the offense facing fourth-and-7 and no timeouts remaining, Clifford threw a dart to rookie receiver Grant DuBose down the seam for a 21-yard touchdown after slipping past the linebacker. Clifford then converted the two-point play with a pass to Duece Watts on a sprint out to the pylon.

The former Penn State standout seems to have a knack for the drill. When asked how many successful two-minute drives he's led this summer, Clifford estimates somewhere around six or eight. Two have come at the end of the first half in preseason games.

"When two-minute comes around, everyone has an even more intense focus because you're focusing on the hardest situation in football," Clifford said. "You're dealing with time. You're dealing how many timeouts you have. Sometimes, defenses bring different looks in two-minute specifically, so remembering that.

"I think it's an enhanced focus in this offense. Everybody's so dialed in and always prepared for those opportunities. I think it's a culmination of a lot of hard work by our offense putting that together."

4. Better hand placement has made a difference for T.J. Slaton.

Although the 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive lineman has always projected as a disruptive run-stopper, Slaton also has shown a penchant for pressuring the quarterback from the one-technique nose tackle position.

Slaton did a lot of film study this offseason in preparation for his first year as a starting defensive lineman. What it taught him is that size and strength are important but good hand placement is often the difference between a win and loss on any given rep.

"Just trying to overemphasize hands. That's one of the things I'm still working on," Slaton said. "More so hand placement than not playing with them at all. I feel like today, I really focused in and locked in on that, so I was able to get my hands in right of places where I wanted them to be at so I could be effective and get off blocks."

5. Luke Musgrave is getting his targets.

After learning on the fly with the starting offense for most of the summer, Musgrave has begun seeing the fruits of that budding chemistry with Love.

Love looked Musgrave's way during the final two red-zone appearances for the offense. While Musgrave didn't get his left foot down in the back of the end zone on the first try, the 6-foot-5, 252-pound tight end bounced back with a 20-yard TD during the next end-of-half play in the red zone.

"There's a lot on his plate at the tight end position. He's doing a great job, though," Love said. "He's making plays. He had a great touchdown today in the kind of end-of-half situation we did. The biggest thing is just getting those guys on the same page, and that's something that we've just got to keep working out."

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