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Manny Wilkins gets his rookie moment

Sam Ficken connects on 63-yarder to end Family Night

Quarterbacks Manny Wilkins, Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer
Quarterbacks Manny Wilkins, Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer

GREEN BAY – DeShone Kizer wasn't going to let Aaron Rodgers forget.

As the Packers' quarterbacks congregated together prior to their introductions for Friday's Family Night practice, the third-year veteran reminded the two-time MVP to give Manny Wilkins his big rookie moment.

Rodgers obliged, instructing Wilkins to lead their position group out of the Lambeau Field tunnel once the quarterbacks were announced, with second-year backup Tim Boyle allegedly following close behind.

Until he didn't.

"They told me one-by-one," Wilkins said. "I was like, 'All right, you're going to let me go first?' So I went out first and then I turned around to see if Tim was running because they said Tim was going to go second and they're all waving at me. I just laughed. It's cool to have a moment and joke around with such a good group of guys."

It's become a rite of passage in the quarterback room in recent years. The QBs tried to get Boyle with the prank last year, but to no avail. Wilkins said he was "so locked in" he didn't even realize what was happening until he was a good distance from the tunnel.

Unbeknownst to Wilkins, the Packers' offensive line pulled the same joke with its rookies, Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman, a few moments prior.

The former Arizona State quarterback took it all in stride and went on to carve out a few moments for himself in his first Lambeau appearance, connecting with Trevor Davis deep down the sideline in the first team period on what likely would've gone for a touchdown.

"Just to be able to have the opportunity to step out on that field, I had a chance to really soak in that moment," Wilkins said. "I've come so far and been through so much in life. To have that moment, knowing I'm making my mom proud, it's a blessing."

Having known Wilkins since they were both participants in an "Elite 11" camp in high school, Kizer wasn't going to pass up a chance to have a little fun with his friend and roommate.

"He had to feel what it's like to go out at Lambeau and experience it," Kizer smiled. "We had a little fun with that."

By special request: Family Night wasn't going exactly the way Sam Ficken wanted when the first-year kicker requested a chance at some late redemption.

Following earlier misses from 40, 50 and 54 yards during practice, Ficken asked the coaching staff if he could try a 63-yarder to wrap up the final field-goal period of the practice, which lasted one hour, 43 minutes.

And after drilling field goals from 51 and 54 yards, the 24-year-old completed the hat trick with the lengthy final attempt to finish 9-of-12, leading to most of the 90-man roster mobbing Ficken at midfield.

"(They) mentioned the distances and I said, 'If we go that way, I'd like to get a long one in,'" Ficken said. "Obviously, with the way the night went for me, I was frustrated and I wanted to do something to flip the script a little bit."

Ficken has taken all the kicker reps through the first eight practices of training camp with Mason Crosby (calf) still on the non-football injury list. While he thought it was "really cool" how the team embraced him after the 63-yarder, Ficken also acknowledges it's those 50-yarders he needs to convert on.

"How many times are you going to hit a 63-yarder? Probably not that many," Ficken said. "How many times are you going to hit a 50-yarder? Probably quite a few. So let's focus on the ones I need to make and we'll look at the film and get it corrected."

A pair of picks: Every year there seems to be an unheralded defensive back or two who makes a name for himself with a timely takeaway on Family Night.

This time around, it was cornerbacks Tony Brown, Chandon Sullivan and Ka'Dar Hollman.

While Sullivan officially caught the interception, Hollman was responsible for breaking up a pass intended for J'Mon Moore in the No. 2 offense/defense two-minute period, causing the live ball to bounce in the air to Sullivan.

A rookie sixth-round pick out of Toledo, Hollman has been earning an increased number reps with the first-team defense over the past week through his physicality and football IQ.

"My coach has been harping on my technique because he sees when I actually do it correctly, great things happen," Hollman said. "So with me, consistency. When I do my technique, everything goes slower for me. I was able to read what he was doing, so when I broke on the ball I became the receiver."

Brown brought his interception back for a touchdown during an early move-the-ball period after jumping his route and picking off a Kizer pass intended for Equanimeous St. Brown.

Brown celebrated with a Lambeau Leap and was quickly joined in the end zone by the entire defense.

"That was live. That's T.B.," said cornerback Jaire Alexander. "Silverback. It's on his back. He's ape, man. Savage."

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