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5 things learned from Packers' offseason program

After this week, team takes extended break until late July

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – The Packers conducted their last OTA workout open to the media on Tuesday, and the team is getting ready for its summer break as this final week of the offseason program wraps up.

Reporters were able to watch a total of three OTAs, plus two minicamp practices last week. Based on those observations and locker room interviews, here are five things we learned heading into training camp.

1. Jordan Love laid the foundation to run the show in the preseason again.

Other than last week's mandatory minicamp when Aaron Rodgers was present, Love was QB1 throughout the offseason program. During training camp, he'll defer to Rodgers again as the No. 1 offense preps for the season, but given recent history, Love is likely to start all three preseason games and play the bulk of the snaps.

There wasn't as much full-speed 11-on-11 non-padded work this spring compared to last year, but Love now has another set of playbook installs under his belt to serve as his foundation for an upcoming August of preseason action.

As expected, Love had his ups and downs in the practices open to the media. He ended Tuesday's workout on a positive note, running a successful two-minute drill that saw him hit Juwann Winfree on a deep seam route to convert on third down, setting up a slant pass for a TD to rookie Samori Toure just before the clock ran out.

"You get comfortable playing, seeing things," Love said of the offseason work. "You go out there and go through it, and then get back to the room and watch it and see what's going on to make those adjustments for the next day.

"Time and reps are definitely very valuable right now."

2. The status of the offensive line for training camp remains uncertain.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who missed all but two quarters of football last season following a late 2020 ACL tear, did not practice during OTAs or minicamp. Neither did Elgton Jenkins, whose Nov. 2021 ACL injury likely will sideline him for the start of training camp.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur said the expectation is Bakhtiari will be ready come late July, but he didn't guarantee it.

The two absences up front had the Packers trying several different combinations during the spring. Aside from Josh Myers at center and Jon Runyan at left guard, there was a lot of shuffling around on the first unit.

Yosh Nijman and Cole Van Lanen both flipped back and forth between left and right tackle. Royce Newman played both right guard and right tackle, while Jake Hanson took some first-team reps at right guard as well.

Then there are the three rookie draft picks, who were working with the reserve groups but will get their chance to challenge those ahead of them on the depth chart when the pads go on.

"I think we've got some pieces to work with," LaFleur said of the unit as a whole. "It's going to be how these guys attack the summer and the kind of shape they come into training camp and how we grow together."

3. The top reserves in the defensive backfield right now aren't the most familiar names to fans.

The Packers have as strong a starting nickel secondary as they've had in some time with Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes at cornerback, plus Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety.

Based on the distribution of reps in the spring practices open to the media, it would appear the "next men up" at those spots are Keisean Nixon at corner and Shawn Davis at safety.

Nixon was signed as a free agent from the Raiders, where he worked with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia the past few seasons. Nixon is expected to be a regular on special teams, but he could be in line for defensive snaps in one of Joe Barry's dime packages, too.

Davis, a fifth-round pick by Indianapolis last year out of Florida, joined the Packers' practice squad in September and was activated for one game in 2021. A third safety has been used by Barry in dime looks as well.

"They've approached it the right way and it's going to be a lot on them in terms of where they are when we come back," LaFleur said of Nixon and Davis. "They've got to stay in the book and up to speed on just all the nuances of those positions. But they're going to have a lot of opportunity."

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Tuesday, June 14 at Ray Nitschke Field for the final week of organized team activities.

4. Amari Rodgers was a steady presence during the spring.

For all the attention, understandably so, on the three rookie draft picks at receiver, the second-year pro Rodgers showed the strides hoped for and expected.

Last year's third-round draft pick out of Clemson was in better shape and displayed a noticeable consistency on the practice field. He made a couple more nice plays again Tuesday, hauling in a back-shoulder throw from Love for a touchdown during red-zone work, and then alertly snagging a deflected pass at the goal line in traffic to prevent a turnover and almost score.

The QB Rodgers said last week he expects the offense's top three receivers to be Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins, but beyond that, there's a lot of competition and sorting out to take place. The young receiver Rodgers would appear to be right in that mix.

5. The first practice of training camp is just over 40 days away.

LaFleur said the first practice of training camp is slated for Wednesday, July 27. Veterans would report to Green Bay the day before, with rookies coming in a few days prior to that.

The Packers are holding their annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field two days before the first practice, on Monday, July 25.

Per CBA regulations, training camp must start with non-padded practices before transitioning to full pads.

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