5 things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 8

Defense with “lot of dogs” continues to impress

CB Jaire Alexander

GREEN BAY – The Packers went back to full pads on a misty Monday for a workout at Ray Nitschke Field.

Here are five things we learned:

1. The Packers' defense feels like it's approaching a peak.

The No. 1 unit simply didn't give up much in 11-on-11 against Aaron Rodgers & Co. during another strong day for the defense. In the locker room afterward, players continued to field questions about how good this group might be, and while the goal is to be the best in the league, nothing's been achieved.

"We've got to prove it every week," veteran safety Adrian Amos said. "That's what we've got to do. There's no sense of claiming that now or saying we're going to be this or that right now, especially to the media.

"The talent level's through the roof. It might be the most talented defense that I've been on, period. But like I said, you can only say that at the end of the year. How are we going to finish? How are we going to play each and every week? What's the tape going to show?"

Monday's practice tape will show plenty of quality play.

On a sideline go route by Sammy Watkins, cornerback Jaire Alexander was with him stride for stride and the pass had no chance. During a third-down blitz period, edge rusher Jonathan Garvin got free for a pressure (and likely sack) and then defensive lineman Jarran Reed broke through traffic for what would've been a coverage sack on the next play.

During two-minute, with the offense needing to go 65 yards with 1:04 on the clock, the defense didn't allow a completion longer than 10 yards, and linebacker De'Vondre Campbell ranged deep into coverage to deflect a pass that almost turned into an interception.

Rodgers converted on fourth down after Campbell's breakup with a pass to Allen Lazard to keep the drive alive, but by then the offense was relegated on its last two snaps to a Hail Mary try and then a hook-and-lateral, which came up short.

"It's always a grind out there," Amos said of facing Rodgers in two-minute. "He's the best of the best. The things he sees and the checks that he can make on his own, the way that he can call it on his own…it's a confidence boost. It's getting us ready and prepared for anything."

2. Alexander was in some sort of zone, and not the coverage kind.

The All-Pro cornerback took on rookie standout Romeo Doubs in the one-on-ones before team drills got going, and he was awfully intense, perhaps in response to all the attention the fourth-round receiver has garnered for such a strong start to camp.

On the first rep, Alexander broke up the pass to Doubs on an out route and was doing plenty of barking afterward. Later, Doubs got a half-step on him – Alexander thought he pushed off – but the pass was just off his fingertips.

On the final rep, he stepped in to take on Watkins, jammed him at the line and jumped the slant route, only to drop the interception, let out a somewhat anguished cry and immediately run off to the side to do push-ups.

"To me that's Ja. You know what I'm saying? That's Ja," Amos said of Alexander's audible intensity. "Yeah sometimes, he'll turn it up a little bit, be more vocal in one-on-ones. As long as I've known him, younger Ja was like that 24-7 as far as talking and stuff like that. But that's just Ja. He's feeling good, feeling good today. He's a baller, a competitor."

That competitiveness was spirited on both sides and carried over to the team periods, and it was clear who won the day. The offense is counting on there being a payoff down the road for its struggles in practices like this one.

"It's real, because we have a heck of a defense," Watkins said. "We have a lot of dogs. They're going to compete, they're going to talk trash, and that's going to make us better on both sides of the ball.

"It feels good to go against I think arguably a top-five DB group, and the offense in general as receivers, we have to step up and make those plays. I have no choice but to get better. Ja is not going to take a day off, Eric Stokes, and a number of other guys, they're going to push us every day."

3. Jarran Reed doesn't feel like he's a new guy on the defensive line.

The veteran free agent, who played five seasons in Seattle and one in Kansas City before coming to Green Bay, said he fit in quickly with Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, T.J. Slaton and the others during OTAs.

"It's a pretty close group already and they welcomed me with open arms and I'm kinda close with all of these guys," Reed said. "We just hang around. We play cards or do just regular stuff just like what kids do."

As for the other newcomer to the group, rookie first-round pick Devonte Wyatt, Reed believes there's plenty to like.

"He came in ready, and he's done nothing but grow every day," he said. "It's kinda crazy because as a rookie, he looks really comfortable, especially playing and learning new things."

4. Elgton Jenkins isn't pegging when he'll return, but he sounds happy with his progress.

The Pro Bowl, all-everything offensive lineman tore his ACL in Week 11 last year (Nov. 21 at Minnesota). He doesn't know when he'll get the green light, but he's testing the knee more rigorously now.

"Right now, we're actually in the ramp-up process, trying to see what all the knee can take and how it responds to different things," Jenkins said. "We're definitely advancing and doing more things."

5. Jordan Love will start the preseason opener Friday at San Francisco.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed that before practice. It'll be Love's third career preseason start after opening two games last summer.

On the health front, safety Innis Gaines (hamstring) and linebacker Ty Summers (illness) did not practice, while receiver Randall Cobb was given more veteran rest time after doing individual drills.

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