GREEN BAY – The Packers held a non-padded, indoor jog-through session in the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday, and then players spoke with the media afterward.
Here are five things we learned.
1. Aaron Rodgers doesn't chat with the young receivers just for show, and his conversations with defensive players occur with those young receivers in mind as well.
It's a fairly regular occurrence to see Rodgers, after a play or between drills, talking with his rookie receivers to go over a finer point or adjustment. Some things are just better explained on the practice field as opposed to the meeting room.
That routine has become engrained in his leadership style for years now, but the motivation to take the extra time with the details isn't just about being a leader.
"I want to win. Badly," Rodgers said. "You've got to communicate to win."
Rodgers will have similar chats with his defensive teammates as well, and he singled out cornerback Rasul Douglas as one with whom he really dove in recently, taking as much as giving in the back and forth. Rodgers complimented Douglas on his smarts, saying he reminds him in some respects to Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.
"He has incredible ball skills," Rodgers said. "He baits you at practice. He has the competitive fire that Charles did. That may have looked like me talking to him, but it was as much him talking to me. I love picking his brain."
Whether he's talking to Douglas or secondary mates Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos or Darnell Savage, Rodgers also is looking for their feedback on the young receivers so he can pass along what they're seeing on defense.
"I think it's important that we share both sides," Rodgers said. "I told them the other day on the receivers, you've got to let me know because we're trying to win here. It's not about a competitive advantage in practice, but what I can tell these young guys on the little things to improve the route running, their eye discipline and just little things in the details."
2. The MVP QB isn't overly concerned about Christian Watson's absence from camp thus far, but he acknowledged the young receivers may have to play whether they're truly ready or not.
Watson, the second-round pick from North Dakota State, has yet to practice due to a procedure on his knee following the offseason program. There's been no timetable shared for his return.
But Rodgers seems to believe Watson won't need much time to get caught up when he does return.
"No, he's a smart kid," Rodgers said. "He'll be fine. He's super athletic, he went through the whole offseason program with us – the OTAs and minicamp – and he's been in my hip pocket asking questions, so I'm not worried about him."
In any event, with veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb the only receivers on the roster with extensive playing experience with Rodgers, the quarterback knows there are limitations to how ready some guys will be prior to real game action – rookies like Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure, young holdovers like Juwann Winfree and Amari Rodgers, and even a veteran free agent like Sammy Watkins.
"I think we're just going to have to throw some of them in the fire, to be honest," the four-time MVP said. "In the two-deep there's going to be young players. We're going to have to throw them in the fire and have a little learning process.
"That's where the patience and the expectations – reasonable expectations – will be very important. That being said, there will be a lot of conversations between now and Game 1 and the expectation will be to be able to recall the important conversations and go out and execute."
3. Similar to punt returner, there are a number of players taking turns at kickoff returner.
During a special-teams period focused on kickoffs, the first two reps at returner were taken by cornerback Rico Gafford and receiver Amari Rodgers.
As an aside, running back Aaron Jones also lingered with the group of kickoff returners but did not take a rep.
4. The competition at long snapper will start coming into sharper focus soon.
Jack Coco and Steven Wirtel have been dueling it out, and while General Manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed – as is always the case with specialists – they're competing against anyone across the league who might not win a job, the evaluation of those two specifically will get more serious as the lights get brighter.
"Especially with Family Night and then the preseason games coming up, I think we're hopefully going to get to a point where we might have an idea where we're going to go there," Gutekunst said.
"With Mason (Crosby) and Pat (O'Donnell), you've got two guys who have done it a long time in this kind of weather, so really the snappers are the two guys we've got to make sure they can handle that as well."
5. The pads are going right back on.
The Packers will be back in full pads for both Thursday's practice and Friday's Family Night.
The Green Bay Packers held training-camp practice inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.