GREEN BAY – The Packers have wrapped up their 2023 offseason program. Here are five things we learned over the past nine weeks.
1. Jordan Love is still growing as a quarterback, but his leadership resonates with Green Bay's locker room.
The Packers' new starting QB led the way from the first day of the offseason program in April to the team-building paintball event that closed minicamp on Thursday. While following in the footsteps of a legend like Aaron Rodgers isn't easy, Love won over his coaches and teammates with his patience, preparedness, and attitude.
"He did it the right way, he waited his time and you never heard one peep or complaint out of him," said running back Aaron Jones last month. "We all love Jordan here, and he has everyone's full respect and we're all going to go lay it out on the line for him."
This actually was the third consecutive year Love led the Packers' No. 1 offense through the offseason program. The 24-year-old quarterback also stood in for Rodgers in 2021 and '22, giving Love a chance to get a firmer grasp of the playbook.
Now fully entrenched as QB1, Love flashed his arm strength and while also demonstrating the progress he's made with both his accuracy and awareness. He made perhaps his best throw of the spring session when he unfurled a dart to the speedy Christian Watson in stride on a deep ball over All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander's coverage on Tuesday.
During the same practice, Love dropped in a ball to Romeo Doubs on a corner fade in the end zone. After practice on Wednesday, Alexander interrupted Love's media scrum to hug Love and deliver a quick message.
"QB1, man," said Alexander, looking into the TV cameras. "Best QB in the league right here but tell him to stop trying me."
Love had his teachable moments, too. He threw late across the middle during the end of a two-minute period that safety Tarvarius Moore intercepted in the end zone last week, and he was picked off by Alexander during a half-speed two-minute on Wednesday.
In the classroom and on the practice field, throwing on the run was a major point of emphasis for the young QB this spring. Love and position coach Tom Clements drilled that extensively during the early on-field portion of the offseason program, which Love hopes will pay dividends when he returns for the start of training camp.
Between now and then, Love will be hosting a football camp in France and then returning home to California to finish his offseason preparation. He said he'll try to organize more throwing sessions with the teammates like he did in the winter with Doubs and Jones.
"We have running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, run routes, things like that. We added a couple of really fast tight ends, so just being able to stretch the field with them. And then obviously we have some really fast receivers, too," Love said.
"I don't think we have that one player that right now is like, 'Oh, this is who we have to go to with the ball' and throw the ball to on third down, so defenses might not know who to focus on, on third downs. I think that all ties in and will help us out."
2. Expect the Packers to maintain a wide-open approach to position battles.
The competition is underway for not only roster spots but also several starting positions at tight end, offensive line, defensive line and safety.
Five former draft picks are looking to join Watson and Doubs at receiver, Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman rotated at right tackle all spring, and rookie tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft saw snaps with the first-team offense.
Defensively, Justin Hollins started across from Preston Smith at outside linebacker, while Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton lined up next to Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kenny Clark. With Alexander and Rasul Douglas not at OTAs, practically every defensive back on the roster worked with the No. 1 defense at some point.
A huge opportunity is present at safety. Adrian Amos signing with the New York Jets confirms the Packers will have a new starter on the back end, with veterans Rudy Ford, Jonathan Owens, Tarvarius Moore, Innis Gaines and Dallin Leavitt vying to start alongside Darnell Savage.
Ford started the safety rotation during OTAs and finished minicamp with the ones. Owens rotated in next behind Savage this week, while Moore was excused for a personal matter and Leavitt didn't practice.
Perhaps the most entertaining battle of all is for the No. 3 running back job. Dependable veteran and core special-teamer Patrick Taylor is competing with rookie seventh-round pick Lew Nichols and Tyler Goodson, who spent his entire rookie year on the practice squad.
After training with Jones in Miami this past winter, Goodson earned significant praise from the former Pro Bowl running back earlier this week.
"I think Tyler Goodson will be a weapon for us," Jones said. "He's been out here, balling. He's been working hard; some other guys in this locker room, as well."
3. Alexander and Douglas remain the standard on the Packers' perimeter.
The veteran cornerbacks made their time in Green Bay count, providing good looks and competition for Love and his bevy of young receivers during 7-on-7 periods in minicamp.
In addition to his INT on Wednesday, Alexander registered a couple pass breakups in coverage of Doubs and blanketed rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed during a red-zone period Tuesday.
"It's been great obviously having Ja back," Love said. "You're going against him and 'Sul back there, those are two of the league's top corners. It's great for the receivers, it's great for me, it's great for everybody just seeing the competition. You're going against the best of the best right there. Just having that great competition, it's going to make everybody better."
4. Anders Carlson's leg came as advertised.
Mandatory minicamp marked the first time rookie sixth-round pick kicked in front of the Green Bay media corps and Carlson did not disappoint.
The 6-foot-5, 219-pound kicker made 11 of his 12 field-goal attempts during the two minicamp practices. He missed once from 44 yards inside the Hutson Center on Tuesday before bouncing back with makes from 49, 51 and 54 to end practice.
"I think he's done an outstanding job," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur of Carlson. "He's got a big-time leg. And I think it's just kind of harnessing that power and making sure it's very consistent. But I think he's shown improvement throughout the course of the offseason."
5. Players begin reporting for training camp on July 21.
The 2023 season begins in earnest when quarterbacks and injured players return to Green Bay on July 21. The rest of the team is scheduled to report on July 25 before the first practice of training camp on July 26.
"It is a good time to kind of relax, unwind, recharge the battery so to speak and spend some time with your family, because we know what's in front of us when we come back here in July," LaFleur said. "We know once we hit that point, it's go time and you've got to be very deliberate with what we do and intentional about how we practice and how we're trying to improve on a daily basis."