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5 things learned at Packers training camp – July 30

Field-goal unit settling in, while Mason Crosby has Week 1 in his sights

P Pat O'Donnell
P Pat O'Donnell

GREEN BAY – Prior to the players' first day off on Sunday, the Packers conducted their third practice in front of fans at Ray Nitschke Field.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Field-goal unit continues to gel; Mason Crosby has Week 1 in his sights.

While Crosby remains on physically unable to perform (PUP) due to a knee injury, it hasn't stopped the Packers' longtime kicker from continuing to build his rapport with the team's new-look unit.

Green Bay not only welcomed a new holder in punter Pat O'Donnell this offseason but also has two players, Steven Wirtel and Jack Coco, competing at long snapper.

"He's in every meeting and film (session)," said O'Donnell, who signed with the Packers in March. "He sees the operations with both snappers. … But he's such a pro, it's like riding a bike with him. He's done it for 16 years now. It's nice to have him around. I know he's a little bummed that he's not out here with the group."

Crosby told reporters he had his right knee scoped shortly before the start of training camp. The goal is still to be back in time for the Packers' opener against Minnesota, which would mark Crosby's 242nd consecutive regular-season game played.

"I feel like our plan and the process that we've been going through so far is really good, so I'm feeling stronger every day," said Crosby earlier this week.

"Obviously, Week 1 is the most important thing, but I'm pushing and staying on a really good regimen, so we don't have any setbacks, we don't have any things where we're like, 'Oh, he doesn't feel good,' and we're having to push through that."

In Crosby's stead, Oklahoma rookie Gabe Brkic has been handling field goals so far. On Saturday, O'Donnell and the Packers performed live-punting drills for the first time in camp as well.

2. After a crazy 10 days, Dallin Leavitt is feeling at home in Green Bay.

The veteran safety was gearing up for his fifth season with the Las Vegas Raiders until Leavitt was informed of his release on July 20.

Two days later, the Packers – and Leavitt's former coordinator Rich Bisaccia – came calling.

An undrafted free agent out of Utah State, Leavitt was a core member of Bisaccia's special teams for the past four seasons. Last year, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound safety racked up a career-high 12 coverage tackles while leading the Raiders' special teams with 348 snaps (73.0%).

The next closest? Foster Moreau's 260.

Now, Leavitt is the third former Raider to sign with Green Bay this offseason, joining cornerbacks Keisean Nixon and Rico Gafford.

"I think I have a similar attitude towards the game of football as Rich," Leavitt said. "I'm just a passionate, aggressive guy and that's how he coaches his special teams. To me, that's how special teams have to be played. It has to be played precise but aggressive. Just understanding what he's asking us to do and buying into his system is how you excel in that part."

Bisaccia didn't waste any time plugging in Leavitt, either. The 27-year-old took reps with the core-four first-team special teams on Friday and Saturday, even serving as the personal protector for punter O'Donnell.

On defense, Leavitt also was the first safety called upon to sub in behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage in two-minute.

"It's been pretty crazy," said Leavitt of the past 10 days. "Everything happens for a reason and I really believe that God helped me get here. I firmly believe that. This locker room is incredible. I get an opportunity to be around a great culture. All these guys have welcomed me with open arms."

3. Rashan Gary is growing into 'a leader of his own.'

Preston Smith was perhaps the first to predict Gary's breakthrough season in 2021.

While the veteran outside linebacker isn't making any grandiose projections this year, Smith does see Gary taking another big step in 2022.

"He's going to do better than he did last year," said Smith, smiling. "That's all I'll say."

In his first season as a full-time starter, Gary led the Packers' defense with 28 quarterback hits, 9½ sacks and two forced fumbles. The 6-foot-5, 277-pound pass rusher has been off to a torrid start to training camp, with Head Coach Matt LaFleur estimating Gary would've had four sacks in Thursday's practice.

"He's been impressive since he's been here," Smith said. "He's growing into a leader of his own. He's grown into his own. He's getting a tremendous confidence and he's playing at a high level and been really consistent with it."

4. Devonte Wyatt is keeping his eyes and ears open in the D-line room.

With Dean Lowry back in the lineup alongside veterans Kenny Clark and Jarran Reed, Wyatt has been working with T.J. Slaton and Jack Heflin on the second-team defensive unit.

The rookie first-round pick out of Georgia has been loving every minute of it.

"It's amazing because those guys really help you. I never expected that coming up here," Wyatt said. "But they make me feel comfortable. They make me feel like I'm part of the family. They're always motivating me. If I don't do the right thing, they still motivate me like, 'Don't worry about it. Next play. You're always going to mess up.'"

5. The pads will go on next week.

LaFleur confirmed the team will wear its shoulder pads at Monday's practice before holding the first fully padded practice of training camp Tuesday.

The locker room is ready for it.

"It's definitely exciting to get the pads back on because that's how football is played," running back Patrick Taylor said. "Everyone can look good with just helmets and stuff like that, but football is played with shoulder pads."

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