5 things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 30

Notes on Tyler Lancaster’s charitable offseason and who stood out during Sunday’s third practice inside Lambeau Field

QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – The Packers were in full uniform and pads for their 12th practice of training camp and third inside Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Here are five things learned from the day:

1. Sunday was the longest practice of training camp.

The team got after it for 2 hours and 14 minutes, with a vast majority of that time spent in unscripted, move-the-ball periods.

Unlike a traditional scrimmage, the Packers utilized thudding instead of live tackling because "we want to have all our horses for the race," according to Head Coach Matt LaFleur, for the regular-season opener in two weeks at Minnesota.

Referees worked the sidelines for the first time all camp, while LaFleur and his assistant coaches wore headsets to relay calls. The Packers again piped in the crowd noise the NFL provided teams during all 11-on-11 periods.

"It seemed like the communication was pretty good for the most part," LaFleur said. "Obviously anytime that you're not going to the ground it's tough to get a real indication of where some of those spots may have been for both sides. But I thought the guys were into it, I thought it was much cleaner than our last couple of practices."

2. As QBs lead the way, Jordan Love has his "best day" yet.

All three quarterbacks had moments during practice. Aaron Rodgers completed 25-of-31 passes for unofficially 192 yards during the team periods, including a beautiful 21-yard touchdown to Allen Lazard during a late period.

Tim Boyle went 6-of-11 for 120 yards with two touchdowns – a 45-yard catch-and-run by Malik Taylor on an out route near the sideline that he turned upfield, and a 21-yard strike to a wide-open Darrius Shepherd down the seam.

The rookie Love went 8-of-14 for 98 yards, with his third series proving to be his best. On the final team period of practice, Love drove the offense down for a touchdown after competing all five of his passes for 68 yards.

Love's 34-yard pass to Shepherd through traffic set up a 4-yard touchdown to Malik Turner two plays later in the back of the end zone to close practice.

"I think absolutely it felt like it was probably his best day up to this point, just making some key throws downfield," said LaFleur of Love. "I think he's consistently getting better and better and better. That tends to happen with these guys when you have more a game-plan emphasis going into it. You shrink the playbook down for him and hopefully he wasn't thinking as much out there, and I think that translated into a better performance."

The Green Bay Packers held a scrimmage inside Lambeau Field on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

3. Top players continued to perform at a high level.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary, three of the most talked-about players this summer, finished camp on a high note.

Through 12 practices, Valdes-Scantling established himself as more than just a downfield threat. The third-year receiver played a huge role in the offense moving the sticks Sunday, running crisp routes to the sideline in converting multiple third- and fourth-down situations.

"Marquez has put together a pretty consistent and strong camp and I'm really proud of his effort," LaFleur said. "I think he's been into it. I think he's much more knowledgeable than he was a year ago in understanding the detail of what we're trying to get done. And he's shown improvement, in all facets."

Gary, the Packers' first-round pick from a year ago, continued to be handful for offensive linemen in the one-on-one pass-rush drills and had at least two "sacks" during 11-on-11.

Smith has looked no worse for wear since returning from an undisclosed injury this past week. He won a rep in one-on-ones rushing from the inside and disrupted several run and pass plays during team periods.

"Defensively, I thought our pass rush showed up," LaFleur said. "I think there were a couple plays in there that definitely could have been ruled a sack if we'd have been going live, where guys pulled off."

4. Tyler Lancaster "definitely" sacked Rodgers.

As disruptive as the Packers' pass rushers have been in camp, it was Lancaster, the run-stopping nose tackle, who unexpectedly produced the first "sack" of Sunday's practice.

The third-year veteran busted through during the first team period of practice to "sack" Rodgers for a 3-yard loss, setting up a third-and-10 situation.

Lancaster, who has 1½ sacks in 28 NFL regular-season appearances, was confident he got the two-time MVP when Rodgers asked him about the play on the sideline.

"Aaron, he challenged me on the sidelines, 'You think that would have been a sack?' Because I can't hit him. And I told him yeah, I said, 'That was definitely a sack,'" said Lancaster with a smile.

5. Off the field, Lancaster made a real difference this offseason.

With all the civil unrest in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, Lancaster was looking for some way to help effect change in the Chicagoland area.

A native of nearby Naperville, Ill., Lancaster reached out to several of his close friends and teammates and asked what he could do. He was quickly put in touch with former Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho, who was organizing a group of pro athletes to raise $500,000 to buy a liquor store in a west-side neighborhood of Chicago that was a "food desert" and convert it into a grocery store. The group purchased the property, tore it down and are now starting the process of building the grocery market.

"Obviously, 2020 has been a hell of a year and there's been a lot of things that have been wrong with the world," Lancaster said. "(Acho) said, 'What can we do? We see a liquor store on every corner but we don't see a market, we don't see these kids having a place that's safe to go.' They formed this thing called, 'Athletes for Justice' and invited me along. They worked with 'By the Hand Club for Kids' and we had this idea to buy out a liquor store and tear it down and turn it into a little market that the kids in the area can work at. I was blown away.

"I was like, would I like to be a part of that? Absolutely. There's a lot of issues in the world but can we be a light? I cried a little bit. I felt so blessed to be a part of it. … I feel like we need more of that in the world and I felt like that was a catalyst."

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