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5 things learned at Packers training camp – July 27

Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft burning the midnight oil this summer

Packers TE Luke Musgrave
Packers TE Luke Musgrave

GREEN BAY – The Packers were back out on Nitschke Field for their second practice of training camp Thursday.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft put in the time this summer.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur and his staff had just wrapped up their last meeting of the first day of training camp when they saw the two rookie tight ends still reviewing practice and grinding at the playbook.

"After all the meetings and they're still in here talking about things, walking through things," said LaFleur before Thursday's practice. "They're not afraid of the work. They're gonna put it in."

It's just another bite out of the NFL elephant for Musgrave and Kraft, the pair of 22-year-old tight ends for whom the Packers have big plans. Drafted one round apart last April, Musgrave and Kraft have been inserted right into the mix with the No. 1 and 2 offenses this summer.

Musgrave, whose 42nd overall selection makes him the highest tight end Green Bay has drafted in 23 years, has opened as the starting in-line tight end with the top unit during the first two days of practice.

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound tight end has flashed his elite athleticism (gaining separation from cornerback Corey Ballentine in 11-on-11 Wednesday) but also showed his youth (extending his hands too early and allowing Ballentine to break up the pass).

Musgrave also has been working on the little details, too. He had his hands full blocking veteran linebacker Preston Smith on Day 1 and a drop on a crosser during Thursday's red-zone period.

"The blocking's definitely different," Musgrave said. "Going up against somebody like Preston Smith … it's different because they're fast, they're big, they're physical, they're on you quick. But it's great. I want to go up against those guys because those are the guys that I'm going to go against on game day when that happens."

As LaFleur points out, both Musgrave and Kraft bring different traits to the offense. Whereas Kraft is sturdy and versatile, Musgrave is fast and explosive. Together, they've taken cues from Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis, veterans who learned from Marcedes Lewis the past two years.

Building a rapport with quarterback Jordan Love has been helpful, as well. At the end of the day, however, there is no replacing studying your playbook and getting live snaps.  

"It's reps," Musgrave said. "You learn a lot of times from making mistakes, so it's really just going out there and making mistakes so you can learn.

"I think I improved a little bit from yesterday, but I've just got to keep on improving and that's where I'm just going to have to go out there and take reps and try to get to where I want to be."

2. Big plays give Rudy Ford first shot at safety job.

There was no safety rotation with the starting defense Thursday, as Ford lined up alongside Darnell Savage for the second consecutive day.

The Packers used a rotation of Ford, Jonathan Owens and Tarvarius Moore during OTAs before Ford finished the offseason program with the first group on the back end.

The 28-year-old safety made six starts in 17 appearances for Green Bay last year. After signing with the Packers last September, Ford recorded a career-high three interceptions, two of which came during Green Bay's 31-28 overtime win over Dallas last November.

"(He's) certainly had some very big plays for us in the back end with a couple interceptions," LaFleur said. "For him it's just more or less being more consistent as a player, and I think that's something that all these players have to battle is just the consistency and making sure you know what to do so you can go out there and do it over and over and over again."

Receiver Dontayvion Wicks missed Thursday's practice with a concussion. Moore, tackle Caleb Jones, and linebacker Tariq Carpenter returned after illnesses sidelined all three Wednesday.

3. Kingsley Enagbare spent time with Smith this summer.

After veteran Justin Hollins worked opposite Smith during the Packers' first practice, Enagbare got his chance to run with the starting unit on Thursday.

The 2022 fifth-round pick turned some heads as a rookie, tallying 31 tackles and three sacks in 17 games with seven starts, all of which came after Rashan Gary was lost for the season to a torn ACL.

This summer, Enagbare trained with Smith in Atlanta before reporting for training camp.

"He's progressed a lot," said Smith of Enagbare. "We worked together in the offseason and seeing him progress from Year 1 to now – his knowledge of the game is improving, steadily every day. I'm ready to see his jump in Year 2. I feel like he could do some good things this year."

4. QB Alex McGough always had his eye on Green Bay.

McGough and his agent began lining up NFL workouts one week after the USFL MVP helped lead the Birmingham Stallions to a second consecutive USFL title.

The Packers stood atop that list.

"I made sure that the Packers were the first workout that I had because they've always been interested," McGough said. "They've always been calling my agent, keeping up with me, and I think that goes a long way with building a connection and the fact that they actually do want me."

General Manager Brian Gutekunst said earlier this week the Packers had kept an eye on the 6-foot-3, 214-pound quarterback since his days at Florida International. A seventh-round pick by Seattle in 2018, McGough had stints with Jacksonville and Houston before briefly returning to the Seahawks in 2020.

Following a successful reboot in the USFL, McGough is competing against Danny Etling and rookie fifth-round pick Sean Clifford to be the primary backup to Love in Green Bay.

"Every opportunity, in my opinion, is the same," McGough said. "You've got to go out there and perform and just make plays. I think my time in the USFL's taught me that it doesn't really matter what you do, what you can't do. It's what results do you bring to the team. That's what I'm trying to do every play."

The Green Bay Packers held their second day of training camp on Thursday, July 27, at Ray Nitschke Field.

5. The defense got the better of the competition period again.

The Packers' offense had to do 10 up-downs at the end of practice after the defense "won" the final competitive red-zone period.

Facing first-and-goal at the 10-yard line, the No. 1 and 2 defenses both kept the offense out of the end zone before McGough led the third-team unit to a touchdown with a fourth-and-goal pass to receiver Bo Melton.

"They only did 10 (reps) today," said Nixon of the offense. "We would try to up that score – try to make it to 20 or 30."

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