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5 things learned at Packers training camp – July 28

Green Bay plans to mix and match on the offensive line early in camp

OL Zach Tom & G Jon Runyan
OL Zach Tom & G Jon Runyan

GREEN BAY – The Packers were back out at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday for their second practice of training camp, a non-padded session that lasted 1 hour, 42 minutes.

Here are five things we learned.

1. The Packers plan to keep rotating on the offensive line.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur told reporters in his pre-practice news conference that the team plans to mix up its starting configuration on the O-line during the early portion of camp.

True to form, Green Bay inserted rookie Zach Tom at left tackle with the first-team offense on Thursday, slid Yosh Nijman to right tackle and bumped Royce Newman inside to right guard.

Center Josh Myers and left guard Jon Runyan remained at their respective stations, while Jake Hanson spelled Myers as the No. 2 center after lining up at right guard with the starters Wednesday.

"You're going to see a lot of different combinations, especially early on in camp, and just allowing guys to compete," LaFleur said. "We'll try to find the best five to go out there and help us win."

The Packers are keeping all options on the table, especially at tackle with David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Tom was the new face on the starting offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound lineman started at both center and left tackle at Wake Forest. His versatility was seen as a huge strength when the Packers drafted him in the fourth round this past April.

When Tom was told to jump in with the starters as the No. 1 left tackle on Thursday, the rookie saw it as a major opportunity.

"I wanted to go out there and show what I can do," Tom said. "That develops trust. I want to be somebody that they can trust to put on the field. That's the goal here."

Meanwhile, Nijman lined up Thursday at the right tackle spot many expected him to be at coming into camp. The former undrafted free agent started eight games at left tackle last year as the third option following injuries to Bakhtiari and Jenkins.

With Nijman at right tackle, Newman moved back to his previous post at right guard. The 2021 fourth-round pick played both spots at Ole Miss but started 16 games at right guard for Green Bay as a rookie, leading the O-line with 1,084 snaps.

"It's just getting used to the practice reps at right tackle," Newman said. "It's two different speeds, inside and outside, so it's just kind of getting used to the speed outside."

2. Christian Watson is taking his rehab "day by day."

One surprising development after the Packers reported to training camp was rookie second-round pick Christian Watson's placement on PUP.

On Thursday, Watson said his knee started bothering him during organized team activities. He considered playing through it before discussing it further with his agent and the Packers' training staff.

Ultimately, all parties felt it would be in his best interest to get it taken of during the break between OTAs and training camp.

"It wasn't anything major," Watson said. "It's really just something that … would be more beneficial to get taken care of, in the long term and the short term. I'm definitely feeling better and better each day."

Watson didn't offer a timetable for his return but was at practice on Thursday with a sleeve on his right leg, taking mental reps and talking with his fellow receivers.

"Obviously I'd love to participate in camp but for me, I'm just taking it day by day," Watson said. "I'm not trying to look too far off in the future.

"I've got a lot on my plate aside from just coming back from this. It's definitely been improving by the day and I'm feeling great, so whatever that time is I do come back, I'm just looking forward to it, hopefully soon so I can get out there and ball."

3. The highly anticipated battle between the receivers and secondary is off and running.

Thursday's practice was heavy on red-zone periods, which led to plenty of competition between the Packers' young receiving corps and their stout returning secondary.

Green Bay's defense had its moments, including an Adrian Amos interception off a tipped ball that prevented quarterback Aaron Rodgers from capitalizing on a free play.

The veteran quarterback also continued to look sharp, scoring back-to-back touchdowns on passes to Romeo Doubs and Randall Cobb in goal-to-go situations. The Doubs TD might have been the play of the day, as the rookie caught a rocket from Rodgers on a fade route just over Eric Stokes' tight coverage.

"It's just going to make us better during the season," Stokes said of the competition. "You're not going to face anybody better than us, and we're not going to face anybody better than you. We know that for a fact. We're going to keep it going and keep it flowing."

4. Josh Myers feeling "more in the flow" in Year 2.

The Packers' second-year center had an interesting rookie campaign to say the least.

After undergoing offseason foot surgery, Myers missed one game due to an infected finger before tearing his medial collateral ligament and fracturing his tibial plateau against Chicago in Week 6, which required two surgeries. 

Feeling healthy and comfortable at center, Myers is excited to get Year 2 started.

"I feel really good with where I'm at," Myers said. "It was a heck of a rookie year, a lot of ups and downs, but that was the way it went. I feel like I'm more in the flow of it now. I have a better understanding of our offense now. I'm really happy with where I'm at."

5. Robert Tonyan has benefited from traveling the comeback road with Jenkins and Kylin Hill.

The trio has been visible throughout the offseason program and the early portion of training camp, often rehabbing with the training staff off to the side during practice.

Tonyan officially hit the nine-month mark on Thursday since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last October in Arizona. Coincidentally, Hill suffered the same injury in that contest against the Cardinals.

"With 'E' and Kylin, I think all of us in the room at the same time working, rehabbing and stuff like that, it's been beneficial to all of us," Tonyan said.

"Obviously, competitiveness, just being there for each other emotionally, it is a lot. It's a lot not being out there with the team and not being available. To be in there with each other every day grinding, it's huge."

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