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5 things learned on Day 1 of Packers minicamp

Notes on Jordan Love, defensive standouts, and the O-line

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – The Packers held the first of two minicamp practices Tuesday in the final week of the offseason program.

Here are five things we learned:

  1. Jordan Love isn't talking about contract negotiations, but he is calling some of his own plays.

Love indicated he was optimistic his new contract would get done before training camp starts on July 22, echoing comments made by Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, but he didn't discuss any details.

On the field, Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he's given Love the responsibility to call his own plays in certain two-minute drills in practice, just to see what he's thinking in certain situations.

For Love, the added duty helps him stay that much more mentally dialed in during those hurry-up situations.

"It just helps to be able to understand the play calls, be always thinking about that next play … just knowing the situation," he said. "What we need, plays that work, plays that don't work."

Tuesday's two-minute drill pitting the first units against one another went to the defense, as D-lineman Karl Brooks knocked away a fourth-down pass intended for Christian Watson.

  1. Zayne Anderson made his presence felt at safety.

Starting safety Xavier McKinney's excused absence from minicamp (cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Keisean Nixon were also excused) resulted in some depth-chart shuffling that had Anderson getting a ton of snaps with the No. 2 defense, and he cashed in.

He intercepted three passes during twos vs. twos, one in the end zone, another off a deflection on a pass that should've been caught, and then a practice-ender on a desperation throw to conclude the second two-minute drill.

"He had a heck of a day, huh?" LaFleur said. "Anytime you come out with one pick, let alone three, I'd say that's a pretty good day.

"One of those in particular was definitely a gift, but he made the layup. He always approaches it the right way and gives great effort."

Anderson played in 12 games last year, including playoffs, almost exclusively on special teams and recorded five coverage tackles. Undrafted three years ago out of Brigham Young, he spent time previously with the Chiefs and Bills before being claimed on waivers last summer.

There's a ton of youth in the safety room behind McKinney with this year's three draft picks getting the most attention, but Anderson sent a message he's here to compete, too.

"It feels good," Anderson said. "I remind myself that if you're doing the right thing and doing the right technique, the ball will come to you when it's supposed to come to you. So luckily today it was gravitating towards me. It was a good day."

The Green Bay Packers held their first practice of minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

  1. Several pass rushers had a good day on defense, too.

Nothing came easy for the offense after some early rhythm and success with the first unit, and the defensive pass rush had a lot to do with that.

One young player who stood out was international prospect Kenneth Odumegwu working with the reserve units. He got in the backfield multiple times and caused his share of disruption.

Odumegwu, who's from Nigeria and part of the NFL's International Player Pathway program, spent his rookie season last year on the practice squad with an exemption, as he was learning the very basics of the game. He made a favorable impression for both his aptitude and attitude throughout last season.

"I would say it's exponential how much he's improved, which is to be expected when you've never played football before," LaFleur said. "He is a joy to be around. He's a great dude, and he can definitely light up the room. He's a little quiet at times, but I think all the guys love him in that locker room."

  1. As usual, the cross-training continues on the offensive line.

With Zach Tom out until at least the start of training camp due to his pectoral injury, the Packers continue to try different combinations up front. Veteran Andre Dillard and rookie first-round pick Jordan Morgan have both taken snaps at right tackle, with Dillard also playing some left tackle along with Rasheed Walker, and Morgan also taking snaps at right guard along with Sean Rhyan.

Morgan's progress will be watched closely to see if at one spot or another he can break into the "best five" the Packers plan to put out there.

"He's got a long way to go in terms of just mentally," LaFleur said. "Physically, he has all the tools that you look for and we're going keep pushing him and he's got to understand that.

"For rookies, everybody has a different learning curve in terms of how fast they can acclimate themselves to how we play at this level, but I think he's approaching it the right way and we're going to continue to push him."

  1. The Packers are experimenting with a video screen at practice.

The large monitor, elevated and placed well back from the sideline, allows players to see a quick replay of the play they just ran in practice. LaFleur said other teams around the league have used one and he wants to see if it would be worthwhile.

"I think you get instant feedback," he said. "The more immediate the feedback, the more beneficial it could be.

"Whether or not we use it in training camp, kind of wait and see. It's something we'd like to explore for the regular season."

That's when the benefits might be more meaningful, because 11-on-11 work sees the No. 1 offense face the scout-team defense for several plays, and then the No. 1 defense faces the scout-team offense. When one of the units is on its break, it could quickly go over any plays from the previous sequence.

"You can just take a look and see what you'd watch on film, but just right there at practice, so it's pretty cool," Love said.