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5 things learned on Day 2 of Packers minicamp

The offseason program is over and training camp awaits

LB Edgerrin Cooper
LB Edgerrin Cooper

GREEN BAY – The Packers wrapped up their 2024 offseason program with the second practice of minicamp on a hot Wednesday at Ray Nitschke Field.

Here are five things we learned:

1. The summer break between now and training camp is less of a break for rookies than anybody else.

Head Coach Matt LaFleur said it's incumbent on everyone, players and coaches alike, to get away from football for a bitbefore returning for training camp in roughly five weeks.

But the rookies who were just introduced to the schemes on offense, defense and special teams barely over a month ago have plenty of homework to do.

"They have to stay in the playbook," LaFleur stressed. "A lot of this information is new to them, and if you don't use it, you're going to lose it.

"You can't go and get too far away from it."

Players can take their tablets, which have the playbooks downloaded, with them during their off time. Studying mostly involves going over keys and responsibilities on every play, as many times as it takes.

"Just going over your rules," linebacker and second-round rookie Edgerrin Cooper said of what he focuses on. "Even drawing stuff up and writing down what each guy's got, putting the puzzle together. Quizzing yourself, going from there and back to your notes, and putting it all in your head so it's all second nature."

2. The Packers might bring all three kickers into training camp.

The final offseason workout featured plenty of field-goal work in the kicking competition. The three kickers each tried four field goals from 43-46 yards in the middle portion of practice, and then three more from 49-54 at the end of the two-minute drills.

Veteran Greg Joseph made all seven of his kicks, with Anders Carlson and Jack Podlesny each going 6-for-7. Whether General Manager Brian Gutekunst has eliminated from the competition over the course of OTAs and minicamp isn't certain.

"That's to be determined, quite honestly," LaFleur said of the possibility of all three kickers remaining on the 90-man roster at the start of training camp. "Ultimately that's going to be Gutey's decision, but that's something that we've certainly talked about."

The Green Bay Packers held their final practice of minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

3. Cornerback might feature one of the highest-profile position battles this summer.

With No. 1 corner Jaire Alexander excused from minicamp, the starters with the No. 1 defense the past two days were Eric Stokes and Carrington Valentine. Those two might be rotating in a highly competitive battle for the starting job opposite Alexander when the players return next month.

"We'll let 'em compete," LaFleur said. "We're going to play our best players. I feel really, really confident with the group that we have."

With veteran Keisean Nixon also excused, Corey Ballentine took the nickel corner reps with the first unit.

At safety, in Xavier McKinney's absence and with second-year pro Anthony Johnson Jr.'s reps apparently limited Wednesday, the rookie tandem of Javon Bullard (second round) and Evan Williams (fourth round) worked side by side with the first-team defense. The next two safeties rotating in after them were Zayne Anderson, who had three interceptions in Tuesday's practice, and Benny Sapp III.

4. Lack of focus caught up to the players on the last day.

QB Jordan Love was effectively moving the ball in the two-minute drill toward the end of practice, hitting Jayden Reed and Luke Musgrave for 18 yards apiece, then scrambling for about 8 yards himself before a 10-yard slant to Romeo Doubs converted on third-and-2 and a spike stopped the clock with 21 seconds left.

But then a pair of pre-snap penalties stalled the impressive drive, which LaFleur chalked up to a "last day of school" vibe.

"It's a little bit harder to keep their focus, and I think you saw that at moments in the practice," he said. "There was sloppy play, a little bit of human nature. That's why you've just got to keep reminding them to stay dialed in."

Before the trouble, the offensive surge started right after linebacker Quay Walker just missed an interception on a pass over the middle. He batted the ball incomplete, and it would've been a difficult catch for the INT, but that served as a reminder as well how quickly things can turn when the defense lets a potential play get away.

5. LaFleur was insistent the last two months were barely the start of 2024.

The head coach appreciates all the work the team got done since mid-April, but it was nothing more than a beginning.

"I think we've laid a good foundation," he said. "It's a good start. But it really doesn't matter once we come back to training camp. (Then) it's about what we do moving forward.

"I feel really good about the group in there (but) you cannot come back the same player. You've got to come back better. You've got to come back in better shape, and you've got to come back better mentally."

The first practice of training camp is slated for Monday, July 22.