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5 things learned at Packers training camp – July 28

Notes on free-agent S Tarvarius Moore, All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari, rookie QB Sean Clifford and more

S Tarvarius More
S Tarvarius More

GREEN BAY – The Packers' third practice of training camp Friday was of the half-speed, jog-through variety, closed to the public.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Tarvarius Moore is out to reclaim his career.

A free-agent safety signed this spring by Green Bay, Moore was in position two years ago to land a starting job on one of the best defenses in the league in San Francisco.

He had started eight games in 2020 and felt he would keep that spot when he tore his Achilles the following spring, wiping out his entire 2021 season.

Moore returned last year to resume a special-teams role with the 49ers, but he never felt all the way back. He does now, another year removed from the injury, and believes the 4.3 speed that got him drafted in the third round by San Francisco back in 2018 is available when he needs it.

"You don't feel completely yourself that first year, but you have to get back out there on the field and just test it out," Moore said. "Definitely feel like all the speed is still there."

He's waiting for his chance to showcase it while sitting squarely in the mix for the starting safety spot alongside Darnell Savage. Rudy Ford has taken the most snaps in tandem with Savage on the No. 1 defense so far, but Moore rotated in Friday, as did Jonathan Owens and Dallin Leavitt.

The competition appears wide open, and while Moore is confident he's got a spot on Rich Bisaccia's special teams if he doesn't start at safety, the goal is obvious.

"Great opportunity here," he said. "Defense is very similar to what I'm used to, even more so just letting me play freely. They've made it really easy for me to transition here, picking up the playbook, just welcome me in and be part of the group."

In what might be one of the strangest factoids ever, Moore's lone career interception came in the Super Bowl, against Patrick Mahomes no less, following San Francisco's 2019 NFC title. He played just a handful of snaps in a specific defensive package in that game, but was credited with two pass breakups, including the pick off a deflection.

He credits "just staying ready" for maximizing on that limited opportunity, and the intercepted ball is proudly on display in his house.

"I have a big trophy case that my mom has always had, like literally from Little League," he said. "I've got that framed for sure."

He doesn't want it to remain his only NFL interception, though.

"No, no, no, definitely," he said. "We're going to change that."

2. David Bakhtiari is confident a scaled-back workload will get him prepared for the season.

The Packers' five-time All-Pro left tackle won't be practicing every day in training camp, and when he is out there, his reps will be limited. Having gone through multiple surgeries and seemingly endless rehab since tearing his ACL in late December 2020, Bakhtiari – who started 11 games last year after missing all but one game in 2021 – is on board with the plan and plenty confident he can get himself ready for Week 1.

"We're on the same page," Bakhtiari said. "Trust is a big thing, and then, finally having an offseason of not having surgeries, the ability to let everything kind of calm down, settle in, train, put on muscle, protect the knee … I'm very grateful and thankful for where I'm at and I'm just excited to see what happens."

When he rotated out Friday, both Yosh Nijman and Zach Tom took turns at left tackle. Those two also rotated at right tackle, where they're competing for the starting job.

Bakhtiari was in and out of the lineup last season, at times sitting out unexpectedly when his knee got balky. But when he played, he looked like his old self. That's his primary concern, along with being available every week if at all possible.

"I have expectations for myself and how I want to play," he said. "Any time I go out there, I want to put my brand of ball out there and, different year, but same goals always apply with me."

Such as a sixth All-Pro honor?

"I'd like that, yeah," he said. "That'd be fun."

3. Rookie QB Sean Clifford is no stranger to learning new offenses.

Including his redshirt season in 2017, the Packers' fifth-round draft pick worked under four offensive coordinators over six years at Penn State, saying he had to "learn a bunch of different ways to play football."

So he's done his share of playbook study, and he's quickly come to appreciate how Head Coach Matt LaFleur has structured the early days of training camp.

"I love how Coach LaFleur goes about his process," Clifford said. "It is very intentional. It makes sense. The way we (go from) Install 1 to Install 2 to Install 3, I see the concepts coming together, it makes it easy to learn. This one's very cerebral.

"I'm not drinking out of a water hose (anymore). When you first get to OTAs, you get the playbook, you first got drafted, you're just thrown into the fire."

The three-headed competition for Jordan Love's backup, which features the rookie Clifford, well-traveled Danny Etling and USFL MVP Alex McGough, is barely underway and will most likely take the entire preseason to be decided.

"If you don't like competition then you shouldn't be at this level," Clifford said. "Danny and I talked about it early, when I first got here, you're not just competing against the guys in the room, you're competing against everybody in the NFL."

4. Like last year, the Packers will face a backup QB in a joint practice.

The Packers are scheduled to practice jointly with the Bengals in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Aug. 9, before the teams' preseason game two days later, but QB Joe Burrow won't be participating. Burrow went down with a calf injury in Cincinnati's Thursday practice and was carted off the field. Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he'd be out multiple weeks.

Last year, the Packers missed seeing Saints starting QB Jameis Winston during joint practices in Green Bay, as the No. 1 defense worked against Andy Dalton instead. Burrow's backup is Trevor Siemian.

LaFleur texted Taylor, with whom he worked on the L.A. Rams staff in 2017, hoping Burrow's OK.

"Certainly, we (were) looking forward to him being in there," LaFleur said. "He's one of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League. I just love how the guy competes. We saw first-hand (in 2021) when we played them, he is as tough as they come. I remember that shot he took, I thought he definitely was going to be out of the game and then he's in there the next series. I was like, 'Man, they don't make too many guys like this.'"

5. Practice will be back to full speed on Saturday.

The 10:30 a.m. workout will be open to the public before the players have an off day Sunday. Then the pads go on for Monday's practice.

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