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5 things learned during Packers rookie minicamp

Christian Watson excited to work with Aaron Rodgers, build trust

Packers WR Christian Watson
Packers WR Christian Watson

GREEN BAY – The Packers were back on the practice field on Saturday afternoon, as the team's 2022 rookie minicamp drew to a close.

Here are five things we learned over the past two days:

1. Christian Watson already has connected with his new QB.

The rookie receiver said on Friday that he has spoken with two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who called to congratulate him on his second-round selection to Green Bay.

Rodgers will be welcoming three rookies to the Packers' offense this summer, with fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs and seventh-rounder Samori Toure joining a room that features veterans Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins.

"It went well," said Watson of the conversation. "He wanted to make sure that I knew that he was looking out and that when he stepped in the building that it was time to work."

The 6-foot-4, 208-pound receiver was a big-play machine at North Dakota State University, catching 105 passes for 2,140 yards (20.4 yards per reception) and 14 touchdowns in 52 games.

Watson got off to a good start on Friday, making one of the biggest plays of practice when he caught a pass down the seam through traffic from quarterback Danny Etling during 7-on-7.

Once it's Rodgers under center, the rookie receiver knows what the expectations will be.

"You're open every single play," Watson said. "Regardless of who's on you, Aaron's able to put it anywhere. Regardless of what you're doing, you're going to be open. You just have to go out there and make a play when he puts his trust in you."

2. Quay Walker flashed during his practice debut.

It was only one non-padded practice Friday, but Walker made a few plays during the first appearance in a Packers jersey.

Walker, the first of the Packers' two first-round picks, made a nice adjustment to the ball in trail coverage to grab an interception during an early passing period. He also had a pass deflection during the drill.

"It's everything I planned for it to be, still getting used to it a little bit, trying to learn my way around, but overall, I love it," said Walker before Friday's practice.

"Just trying to get the hang of everything … just trying to get used to everything, met new guys. But it pretty much already feels like home already."

3. Matt LaFleur ready for Packers' call to London

While the Packers' Week 5 matchup in London against the New York Giants marks Green Bay's debut in the NFL International Series, it will be the third time LaFleur has coached overseas.

In LaFleur's past experiences with the Los Angeles Rams (2017) and Tennessee (2018), his teams left on Thursday evening, flew through the night and conducted a walkthrough after the team landed.

As LaFleur and his coaches begin devising their travel plan for the team, the Packers know they'll need to be prepared to tackle both the Giants and the time change during that weekend.

"It is an adjustment for everybody, no doubt about it," LaFleur said. "I think one of the things that's so important for us is just making sure we get our plan in to those guys prior to leaving."

4. A longtime Packer on "Madden," Rasheed Walker is thrilled to now wear the green and gold.

Growing up in Maryland, Walker could almost be categorized as an honorary Packers fan.

The 6-foot-6, 324-pound rookie tackle watched tons of film of five-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari and played extensively with the Packers in "Madden."

After taking an official visit to Green Bay during the pre-draft process, Walker couldn't have been happier to start his NFL career with the Packers.

"I've been playing 'Madden' since I was a little kid, using Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers," said Walker, a seventh-round pick out of Penn State. "It's just crazy. I'm just so thankful and grateful to have this opportunity."

While incoming rookies weren't allowed in the building until the veteran portion of the offseason program was completed on Thursday, Walker did have a chance to briefly cross paths with both Bakhtiari and Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins.

To be sure, there was an "awe" factor.

"I've been watching David for years, so seeing him in person, it was like, 'Damn, you're him,'" Walker said.

"I'm just really excited to learn from all of those offensive linemen. They're all great players and I've been watching them for the past few years so I'm just happy to actually learn from them firsthand. It's a crazy thing."

5. Green Bay is casting a wide net to fill its 90-man roster.

The Packers had 51 players available for this year's rookie minicamp, a jump from the 28 participants Green Bay was limited to last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the 11 draft picks and 14 undrafted rookies, the Packers also had eight current players and 18 tryout hopefuls participating. Green Bay currently has 89 players on its offseason roster, one under the 90-player maximum.

"It allows you to do a little bit more … in terms of competition" LaFleur said. "Because I'm a firm believer that competition will bring out the best in you, so the more competitive that it is, I think it kind of will show what these guys are all about."

The 18 tryout players were: UW-Whitewater receiver Ryan Wisniewski, Missouri receiver Keke Chism, South Carolina State cornerback Zafir Kelly, FIU quarterback Max Bortenschlager, Grand View receiver Anthony Turner, Washington (St. Louis) cornerback Andrew Whitaker, Coastal Carolina safety Alex Spillum, Iowa safety Xavior Williams, Clemson punter Will Spiers, St. Norbert College safety Kendall Karcz, Memphis fullback Sean Dykes, Utah State tight end Carson Terrell, Indiana linebacker Ryder Anderson, Georgia Tech long snapper Jack Coco, Troy long snapper Cameron Kaye, Minnesota defensive lineman Sam Renner, Iowa guard Kyler Schott, and Mississippi State linebacker Kobe Jones.

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