GREEN BAY – The Packers finally have some game film to go on, and they got to work cleaning it up on the practice field Saturday.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur pointed out several aspects of Thursday’s preseason victory over Houston that were less than desirable, though nonetheless typical for the year’s initial game action.
The issues that seemed to bother LaFleur the most were the Packers’ 12 penalties, 24 missed tackles, early struggles with the run game, and lack of explosive plays as the Texans won the big-play ledger, 6-3.
“You always think about the stuff you can work on,” LaFleur said. “There’s a lot to improve upon.”
There was plenty to like as well, with the overall offensive operation smoothing out, the pass protection not allowing any sacks, and the defense and special teams recording four takeaways.
But progress in the other areas will be the focus heading into the second preseason game this coming week at Baltimore, and if anything the push for more explosive plays was a noticeable element of Saturday’s practice.
In 11-on-11 work, backup quarterbacks Tim Boyle and DeShone Kizer both connected on deep balls, to Jake Kumerow and Darrius Shepherd, respectively. Aaron Rodgers also hit back-shoulder throws for significant gains to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams.
The offense dealt with some dropped passes early in the workout but sharpened up as practice moved along. There were some limitations to the personnel groupings due to fullback Danny Vitale’s exit from practice with a calf injury, with fellow fullback Malcolm Johnson already sitting out due to a groin injury from the game.
Also on the injury front, linebacker Oren Burks (chest) and defensive lineman Kingsley Keke (quad contusion) were hurt in the game, while center Corey Linsley, outside linebacker Preston Smith, running back Aaron Jones and cornerback Josh Jackson all returned to practice.
For Jackson, it was the first practice of camp for the second-year pro, who had been sidelined by a foot injury. He was limited in his participation, as was Jones, who rested a tight hamstring for a week.
Jones expressed no concerns over his brief absence and said the medical staff was being extremely careful, noting he would not have missed the game had it been the regular season.
With the new offense still plenty fresh in his mind from OTAs in the spring, he’s just waiting to get the all-clear to get his usual number of practice reps. He expects to get some game snaps before the preseason is done, but he didn’t put a number on how many he needs to feel ready.
“I’m pretty comfortable in the offense,” he said. “I would like to get my feet wet in the preseason, but I feel comfortable with the offense.”
After an off day, the Green Bay Packers hit the practice field Saturday for their twelfth public practice of training camp.
Other news and notes from Saturday:
--Veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga, as he’s done periodically throughout camp, rested again, with Billy Turner sliding over from right guard to take his spot and rookie second-round pick Elgton Jenkins working at right guard with the No. 1 offense. Jenkins is competing for a starting job up front with left guard Lane Taylor.
--With Burks out, Curtis Bolton took his place alongside Blake Martinez in the No. 1 defense’s packages with two inside linebackers. Bolton is an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma. Rookie seventh-round pick Ty Summers was calling the signals for the No. 2 defense and built on his 10-tackle performance in the game with an interception in pass coverage on Saturday.
--LaFleur noted Bolton, Summers and Brady Sheldon have all had their moments at inside linebacker but have let some chances get away as well. Like Summers, Sheldon had a pick in Saturday’s practice, too. “You’ve got to finish plays,” LaFleur said, referring to potential sacks and turnovers. “All three of those guys, they’ve shown some flashes, some good things, but they’ve got to finish.”
--In addition to Vitale, the other player to drop out of practice was undrafted rookie cornerback Kabion Ento. A converted receiver from Colorado, Ento made an impressive, full-extension interception on a deep ball from Kizer to Kumerow but injured his hamstring on the play.
--Second-year cornerback Tony Brown continues to hold his own with the No. 1 defense in the absence of Kevin King (hamstring). Brown broke up passes intended for various targets, including Adams, Valdes-Scantling and tight end Jimmy Graham.
--Along with King, injured players who have not yet returned to practice are receiver Trevor Davis (stinger), running back Jamaal Williams (hamstring), linebacker Greg Roberts (abdomen), tight end Jace Sternberger (jaw, concussion), and defensive lineman Fadol Brown (calf). Safety Ibraheim Campbell, re-signed late last week, is on the physically unable to perform list while he continues his rehab from last year’s knee injury.