GREEN BAY – The Packers went back to shoulder pads for a two-hour workout at Nitschke Field on Thursday.
Here are five things we learned.
1. Rasul Douglas has a great sense of timing.
One day after quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Douglas' smarts remind him somewhat of Charles Woodson's, and just an hour or so after Head Coach Matt LaFleur complemented him on his ball skills and ability to jump routes, Douglas held up his end of the bargain.
During an ultra-competitive one-on-one period between receivers and defensive backs, Douglas undercut an out route by Randall Cobb for what looked like a pick-six, setting off quite the defensive celebration.
"He's super intelligent," LaFleur said of Douglas, who re-signed a long-term deal with the Packers in the offseason after a team-best five interceptions, including two returned for TDs, last year. "He's so good at recognizing formations and splits and understanding what routes come from each split."
As Douglas has explained many times, he gleaned much of that from learning how to productively watch film from position coach Jerry Gray last year upon joining the Packers from the Cardinals' practice squad.
Now he's to the point where, as Rodgers said Wednesday, he's even trying to bait the four-time MVP quarterback in practice, though Douglas admits it's not easy.
"I try not to let him just look me off," he said. "But with A-Rod, sometimes he just looks down the middle of the field … (Douglas then makes a hand motion for a throw toward the boundary), so it's hard. I just try to stay in there as long as I can until the ball gets thrown and I try to run to the ball."
As the appreciation for Douglas rises the longer he's here, he's enjoying more and more the environment with this group of teammates and coaches. He said Gray is serious when it's time to get down to business, joking around when the pressure's off, and the defensive backs follow his lead.
They'll engage Gray in valuable back-and-forth in the meeting room, and then during off hours will drop a clip from Gray's playing days, which he doesn't talk about much, into their group chat to get the banter going.
"We'll find an old-school play, put in the chat, and he'll talk his little mess," Douglas said. "He's still got that drive in him, you know."
All kidding aside, Douglas is still around the facility watching film into the evening, like he was last year, but "nothing crazy right now." He said the really late hours, "'til like 9, 10," will begin after the preseason wraps up.
Like all of his defensive mates, Douglas has high hopes and expectations for the unit as a whole, and he plans to be right in the mix for all of it.
"We're having fun. A lot of fun," he said. "We're getting a lot of turnovers, we're punching at the ball, we're flying to the ball, and we like it. That's just accountability between everybody. Everybody knows there's one goal, one way to play, and that's fast."
2. The competitiveness and give-and-take of Thursday's practice was nonstop.
Douglas' pick was just one of several impressive plays in the perimeter one-on-ones, with Kabion Ento getting his own interception right before Douglas', Romeo Doubs making a tough catch with Eric Stokes all over him, Sammy Watkins hauling in a deep ball, and Juwann Winfree making a nifty move to get open against Rico Gafford.
There were also multiple reps where safety Innis Gaines matched up against receiver Amari Rodgers, and the two battled hard. According to Douglas, that was a matchup LaFleur called out and had everybody watching closely.
Little additions to the offense vs. defense vibe are common throughout camp, on or off the field. Shooting baskets in the gym is one example. Douglas said today in the full team meeting it was "skit day," which is a competition among players to provide the best caption for a particular photo.
Thursday's picture? The one of Aaron Rodgers' arrival at camp in the Nicolas Cage/"Con Air" attire. Three rookies on each side of the ball took their crack at it.
"The captions were really weak today," Douglas said.
The Green Bay Packers held a public training-camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
3. The intensity of the one-on-ones carried over to 11-on-11, particularly with the No. 1 units.
For the second straight padded practice, three separate one-on-one sessions were going on simultaneously – receivers vs. defensive backs, offensive vs. defensive linemen, and running backs vs. inside linebackers in blitz pickup.
All were spirited, and it translated to the offense and defense trading off getting the better of one another in the team (11-on-11) periods.
Aaron Rodgers had a number of standout throws – a teardrop to tight end Tyler Davis on a deep corner, a bullet to Allen Lazard on an extended crosser, and a no-look checkdown to AJ Dillon over the middle. Meanwhile, safety Adrian Amos collided heavily with Doubs on a seam shot and broke up a potentially big play.
Later in the red zone, Rodgers beautifully executed an exaggerated play fake with a rollout to his right to hit Lazard near the boundary. But moments later, another pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, and the deflection landed in rookie Quay Walker's arms for an interception.
"It was a really good practice. It was a fun practice," Dillon said. "Frustrating at times, but from the one-on-ones, from going good-on-good, team drills, even special teams, just all that. Everybody's really bought into pushing each other.
"I think just the intensity and how people are approaching practice in camp – everybody knows it's a grind, everybody's tired and sore – but they're approaching it, hey, when we're out here, we're going to get our work done. Then we'll come in here and complain a little bit and hop in the cold tub."
4. Amos got his revenge.
Earlier this week, the veteran safety just missed winning the two-minute drill for the No. 1 defense with an interception at the goal line. On a bang-bang play, he couldn't haul in the pick, and the pass breakup allowed the offense to kick a field goal.
This time, Amos sealed the deal.
After Rodgers drove the offense 61 yards with five completions (two to Aaron Jones, one each to Davis, Dillon and Watkins) to the defense's 14-yard line, 12 seconds remained on the clock. Then on a throw over the middle for tight end Josiah Deguara, Amos leaped and snared it at the goal line.
5. Family Night is up next.
And there might be a period of live tackling Friday night at Lambeau Field.
"Potentially," LaFleur told the media. "I'm going to keep you guys on the edge of your seats."