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5 things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 7

Depth at multiple positions very much in flux, plus injury updates

S Vernon Scott
S Vernon Scott

GREEN BAY – The Packers held an indoor, jog-through practice Sunday in the Don Hutson Center.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Third-year pro Vernon Scott has moved up the depth chart at safety.

There's no long-term concern with starting safety Darnell Savage's hamstring injury from Family Night, but his substitute with the No. 1 defense remains an interesting piece of news.

Scott filled in for Savage on Friday and was still holding that spot with the starters for Sunday's workout. It's significant because when OTAs and minicamp wrapped up in June, Shawn Davis appeared to be the No. 3 safety based on how the reps were distributed.

That spot now seems to be Scott's after a year during which the 2020 seventh-round pick from TCU appeared in just three games and was a game-day inactive 15 times, including the playoff contest.

Scott was on a different trajectory as a rookie, getting a lot of work on special teams and occasional snaps on defense, as he appeared in 16 of 18 total games. He admitted last season was frustrating at times, but he's put it behind him and is only looking forward.

"I really just took a different approach to this offseason, tried to lock in and get better with my techniques and take care of my body better, and really come back stronger and prepared," he said following Sunday's practice.

"My confidence has been high, but (this new opportunity) is just showing my teammates I can step in and they can trust me if someone goes down."

2. There are plenty of position battles to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

In addition to safety, Head Coach Matt LaFleur also mentioned outside linebacker and tight end as rather wide-open positions where there's a lot to sort out depth-wise beyond the veterans who likely won't play in the preseason games.

Preston Smith and Rashan Gary at edge rusher, Adrian Amos and Savage at safety, along with Marcedes Lewis and the injured/rehabbing Robert Tonyan at tight end, are known commodities. But all of those spots will need multiple backups on the 53-man roster, and the competition cranks up another notch this week with the start of the preseason games.

"That's why we're so excited to get to San Francisco this week," LaFleur said. "It'll be a great test for all our players."

3. Slot corner continues to see a variety of players get looks.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas has taken his share of snaps in the slot with the first-team defense, but lately more players are getting looks there.

Before his hamstring injury last week, Savage took a few reps. During the jog-through 11-on-11 Sunday, both Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes rotated into the slot as well with Douglas staying mostly on the boundary.

In the spring, defensive coordinator Joe Barry indicated he wants to train, and potentially use, various players in that role, and he's been true to his word so far. Ultimately decisions related to the duty could end up being more matchup-based, depending on the opponent and alignments.

4. The roster overall is starting to get healthier.

Veteran cornerback Keisean Nixon, a free-agent addition in the offseason from the Raiders, practiced for the first time Sunday, coming off the non-football injury list (NFI). He had been out with a groin injury.

Also, running back Patrick Taylor (groin) and outside linebacker Randy Ramsey (ankle) both returned to practice after missing some time, and receiver Malik Taylor (shoulder) was practicing with a red no-contact jersey on.

5. LaFleur is pushing for players to not play tentatively, especially with the preseason games on the horizon.

As young players learn the playbook, there's a tendency to be thinking so much on the field they slow down and aren't able to play full speed.

LaFleur saw some of that in the Family Night practice film, and he and the coaches are emphasizing to the players that going full-throttle must be a more consistent focus.

"Football is an imperfect game, and guys are going to make mistakes, but (it's important) how you balance that with making sure that you're giving your max effort all the time," LaFleur said. "There were some plays we pointed out where technically maybe somebody wasn't doing the right thing, but they were going at 100 miles an hour and made a play."

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