GREEN BAY – The weather did its best not to cooperate Saturday but the Packers made the most of their annual Family Night practice anyway.
Delayed at the start by lightning and then cut short later in the evening by another storm system, the workout inside Lambeau Field didn't include everything Head Coach Matt LaFleur wanted, but more than he thought when activities first began.
In the end, the highlight of the wet night was seeing 34,835 fans at Lambeau after little to none in all of 2020, even though they missed out on the closing fireworks, which had to be canceled.
"What a great experience to have fans back in the stands, man," LaFleur said. "They brought a lot of juice, lot of energy. I think that you don't truly appreciate how much more joy and just how much more fun the whole experience is to have that many people in less than ideal conditions to show up for practice. That was a pretty cool deal."
As for the action on the field, the fans were treated to quarterback Aaron Rodgers dropping a few perfectly placed throws into the net in the back of the end zone – two from about 20 yards and two more from closer to 45. No. 3 QB Kurt Benkert also was on target once from the longer distance.
In the 11-on-11 work, the defensive highlights included a couple of pass breakups each by one established cornerback, Jaire Alexander, and by an up-and-comer battling for a roster spot, Kabion Ento. But later, Ento displayed the classic ups-and-downs of a young player when he whiffed on a tackle attempt of receiver DeAndre Thompkins on an end-around during a fully live period, and the play ruptured for a big gain.
On balance, the defense got the better of things, stopping Rodgers and the No. 1 offense at the 10-yard line in the two-minute drill (the two-minute drives for the second and third units were skipped). The No. 1 defense also would have sacked Rodgers once on an inside pressure from Dean Lowry, and did intercept him once, when Davante Adams bobbled a slant pass and safety Darnell Savage juggled it himself before hauling it in.
The standout offensive plays included a deep seam connection between Rodgers and tight end Robert Tonyan, and a couple of connections between QB Jordan Love and receiver Devin Funchess – one a 25-yarder to the outside, and the other a sideline toe-tap by the veteran.
"I got to have fun again," said Funchess, who is battling to make the roster after almost two full years away from the game. He was lost for the 2019 season in the opener for Indy due to injury, and then he opted out during the pandemic last year. "Have fun with the guys and just put on a show for the crowd that was here."
Other than the constant uncertainty of how the night was going to unfold, if anything bothered LaFleur about the practice it was a couple of fumbled snaps by Love with undrafted rookie Jacob Capra playing center.
Those were the only glaring moments when the conditions weren't handled effectively.
"There was a little bit of sloppiness … we definitely need to clean up," LaFleur said. "Shoot, we're a week away from our first preseason game, so that'll definitely be a point of emphasis throughout the course of the week."