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Devonte Wyatt excited to 'prove his point' in Year 2

The wait has been worth it for the Packers’ 2022 first-round pick

DL Devonte Wyatt
DL Devonte Wyatt

GREEN BAY – There may have been no one in a Packers uniform who was more excited to see the pads come on during practice this week than Devonte Wyatt.

The second-year defensive lineman was anxiously counting down the days to training camp after a strong finish to his rookie season.

As a first-round pick out of Georgia, Wyatt didn't play a lot out of the gate for the Packers. However, he caught a wave of momentum during the final stretch of the season, and it carried Wyatt into his first NFL offseason.

Stepping in for an injured Dean Lowry, Wyatt tallied five tackles, three quarterback hits and 1½ sacks in 100 defensive snaps over his final four games of the 2022 campaign.

"I kind of got a little comfortable," said Wyatt of his finish. "But this year I feel a lot more comfortable, so going in I'll be a lot more ready."

The 6-foot-3, 304-pound defensive lineman has looked ready, willing, and eager during this week's padded practices at Nitschke Field, specifically during the one-on-one periods between the offensive and defensive line.

On Tuesday, Wyatt won two reps in spectacular fashion after busting out his patented spin move against center Josh Myers before beating offensive lineman Jean Delance with a power rush later in the drill.

While Wyatt wasn't exactly puffing his chest out after the performance, his fellow defensive linemen did plenty of hooting and hollering. They could feel Wyatt coming this spring. Now, he's getting a chance to show his progress.

"He's way ahead of a year ago," said linemate T.J. Slaton of Wyatt said. "I feel like his hands are better. His get off is way faster and I feel like the game has really slowed down for him. He's seeing things almost in slow motion.

"We just want to keep praising him to keep going because we need him to be big for us."

It hasn't just been one-on-ones, either. The former first-team All-SEC defensive lineman has been in the backfield plenty of times during 11-on-11 team periods, too.

The Packers knew what they were getting when they drafted Wyatt last year but brought the former Georgia standout along slowly behind a trifecta of seventh-year veterans: Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, and Lowry.

He played just 224 snaps over 16 games. His three QBs hits, 1½ sacks and forced fumble all came during that final stretch of his rookie year.

Reed and Lowry both leaving in free agency has created a flood of reps for Wyatt and Slaton, the third-year nose tackle, to hone their craft this summer.

"I just waited my turn. That's all," Wyatt said. "I have a long career ahead of me. I'm kind of glad that happened because it helped me see a lot and I learned a lot from the older guys."

So far, the wait has been worth it. Wyatt has been on Clark's outside hip all offseason and absorbed every bit of advice defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery has given him over the past year.

Wyatt knows he still has a way to go to become an every-down force. He specifically mentions the improvements he still needs to make against the run.

"I feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident with plays," Wyatt said. "I hit the rookie wall about the beginning of (last) year, but it's gone now. Now it's just time to take that next step."

Things appear to be trending that way. The promise, power, and explosiveness the Packers saw in Wyatt when they drafted him at No. 28 have all been there two weeks into camp.

With a joint practice against Cincinnati on deck next week, the 25-year-old Wyatt can't wait to show everyone what he has to offer in Year 2.

"Just trying to prove my point," Wyatt said. "Just letting them know I'm here this year. I'm not here to play (around). I have a point to prove."