Skip to main content

Family Night brings out Packers' best on offense, so far

Aaron Rodgers and Co. look sharp, reserves on defense get the better of it, and a big finishing kick

WR Jake Kumerow
WR Jake Kumerow

GREEN BAY – Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' No. 1 offense saved its best practice thus far for the biggest crowd.

In both a "move-the-ball" period and two-minute drill, Rodgers directed new Head Coach Matt LaFleur's offense smoothly and efficiently in front of Friday's Family Night audience of 56,133 at Lambeau Field.

The major portions of 11-on-11 work with the first string stood out, though LaFleur confessed the practice officials perhaps made a few generous spots of the ball, giving the offense a first down when it otherwise might have been third-and-short.

Regardless, it was the best Rodgers and his first-unit mates have looked in the eight practices of training camp to date, as far as stringing together a run of successful, productive plays and keeping the No. 1 defense on its heels a bit.

"I thought it was pretty impressive," LaFleur said. "He did a lot of great things and made a lot of great throws out there tonight."

On a 75-yard scoring drive in "move the ball," Rodgers was 7-of-9 for 62 yards, completing throws to five different pass catchers. Then in two-minute, Rodgers hit three passes to three different receivers before the drive bogged down in the red zone and ended with a field goal. It probably would have produced a touchdown had Marquez Valdes-Scantling been able to haul in a sliding catch inside the 5.

Even before that, Rodgers previewed a good night for the No. 1 offense with back-to-back deep completions to Jake Kumerow and Davante Adams in one of the opening 11-on-11 segments.

The second- and third-string defenses got their revenge, though, having their way in several cases when Rodgers and Co. weren't on the field.

Backup QB DeShone Kizer's "move the ball" started with consecutive tackles for loss against the run and then a pick-six by cornerback Tony Brown, who cut in front of receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on an out route.

Kizer's two-minute also featured an interception, as rookie corner Ka'Dar Hollman deflected a short pass for J'Mon Moore up in the air, and fellow corner Chandon Sullivan made a diving grab.

"I think the ball looked like it was a little bit left inside, and Tony made a great jump on it and took it the distance," LaFleur said of the first turnover. "The other one the ball got tipped, and it's unfortunate anytime you get a tipped pick, off the collision there. We'll take a look at that. But there's a lot of good tape to go through and really learn from."

Inside linebackers James Crawford and Ty Summers, a rookie seventh-round pick, also had what likely would have been sacks on interior blitzes, as Kizer was pressured up the middle frequently. A Summers blitz also forced a third-down throwaway in Kizer's second crack at two-minute.

Other highlights included:

1) A deep ball to the house.

Undrafted rookie QB Manny Wilkins hit receiver Trevor Davis in stride against rookie corner Nydair Rouse, and it went for a 70-yard touchdown. Davis, who's off to a strong start in camp, victimized Rouse again later by reaching over him to deftly pluck a Tim Boyle pass out of the air for a 30-yard gain.

2) Jake being Jake.

Kumerow added to his early deep grab with an impressive diving catch along the sideline for a 17-yard gain from Boyle. Moments later, Rodgers connected with Kumerow on a 13-yard back-shoulder toss against Hollman to get that two-minute drive into field-goal range.

"Yeah, he definitely helped himself," LaFleur said of Kumerow in the receiver competition. "It speaks to just what we've been saying all along. You can always count on Jake. I think he dinged his finger in the one-on-ones when he caught a ball, too. He's a tough guy and played through it. The catch he made on the right sideline was pretty incredible."

3) A monster finish.

With veteran kicker Mason Crosby still sidelined with a strained calf, Sam Ficken did all the kicking, and he was 4-of-6 on kicks to end the offense-defense segments, with the misses coming from 54 and 50 yards.

Then Ficken ended the practice by going 5-of-6 in a rapid-fire FG period, missing from 40 but finishing with three straight makes from 50-plus, including a 63-yarder on his final kick. For the record, 63 yards is the longest field goal ever made at Lambeau in a game, kicked by San Francisco's David Akers in Week 1 of 2012, tying an NFL record at the time.

"We called him up right before that and he wanted one more," said LaFleur, who granted Ficken the final long attempt. "I knew Sam had a big leg, but that was a heck of a kick."

It was a memorable finish to the new head coach's first Family Night, which already had made an impression.

"What an environment," LaFleur said. "I've never been a part of anything like that in my life. When you can almost fill up that stadium on a practice, that's pretty unreal. It just shows the passion and loyalty this fan base has, which is awesome."