The Green Bay Packers were on the field for the first public practice of OTAs Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s a look at what we saw and heard.
Aaron Rodgers speaks
The biggest news item of the day came courtesy of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After practice, the two-time NFL MVP was asked about the Packers being connected to former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant and whether he’d like him in Green Bay.
“I’m paid to play quarterback,” Rodgers said, “so I don’t make those decisions.”
Pressed further about a receiving core that lost 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, has two established pieces in Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, a talented but still developing Geronimo Allison and then a lot of young unproven players, Rodgers seemingly made it clear what he thought about the idea of bringing in Bryant, who will turn 30 in November.
“We like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they are going to keep going,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy [Nelson] and bring in Dez, but he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.”
It’s been reported that Green Bay has no interest in Bryant, so Rodgers comments about him are irrelevant. But his decision to bring Nelson’s name up again, despite saying last month that everyone needed to move on, would suggest he’s still not over losing one of his favorite targets, especially with the uncertainty at the position.
New QB on the field
If there was a thought that DeShone Kizer would come in and be Rodgers’ backup from Day 1 after being traded for from Cleveland, that got shut down pretty quickly on Tuesday. Instead of Kizer following Rodgers in team drills, it was his backup from last year, Brett Hundley, getting the second-team reps.
It’s possible that Kizer is still processing and getting a full grasp of the offense, though everyone is kind of starting over following coach Mike McCarthy’s promise to tear down the playbook and rebuild it with new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin this offseason. Either way, backup quarterback may be one of the more interesting position battles of the summer.
In the backfield
It’s just the second day of OTAs, but the running back rotation gave us a glimpse of what the Packers think of the guys in their backfield right now. Second-year back Jamaal Williams took first-team reps, with last year’s fifth-round pick Aaron Jones following him and veteran Ty Montgomery third.
Some fire on defense
Special teams’ coach Ron Zook uses a sound system with a mic to communicate with his players. No matter where you go on the practice field, you can hear Zook through the speakers. New linebackers coach Patrick Graham needs no microphone or sound system to be heard. Almost from the start of practice, Graham got after his guys, lamenting a mistake or asking for more energy, often in colorful language that didn’t go unnoticed.
“There’s a little bit of yelling at practice,” Rodgers said with a smile. “The linebackers coach does a lot of yelling, actually. That’s new [and] different. It’s energy. It’s yelling energy, but it’s good.”
Jimmy Graham makes his debut
For a third year in a row, Green Bay is introducing a new tight end to the mix. In 2016, it was Jared Cook. Then it was Martellus Bennett last season. This year, it’s five-time Pro Bowl selection Jimmy Graham. At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Graham has already started making an impression.
“I thought those guys were big until I saw Jimmy,” said 5-foot-10 Randall Cobb of the previous No. 1 tight ends. “He’s a big dude. I try not to stand by him too often.”
Graham is a physical marvel and should provide a big target for Rodgers. But it wasn’t just his size that left the quarterback impressed.
“The guy is pretty damn talented,” Rodgers said. “He’s got some different elements that we haven’t had around here in a while with his ability to read coverages really quickly. He catches everything with his hands. We’re pretty excited about him.”
Rodgers found Graham several times Tuesday during team drills, including on what turned into a long catch and run for a touchdown off a broken play.
Concern on the edge
Though he didn’t take part in practice, linebacker Clay Matthews met with the media afterwards. And, according to PackersNews.com’s Michael Cohen, expressed significant concern about the depth at outside linebacker.
Matthew certainly has a point. Most thought Green Bay would take an edge rusher early in the draft, but new general manager Brian Gutekunst never did. He didn’t believe it was a very good year for the position. And while that might be true, it’s left the Packers counting on the guys behind Matthews and Perry — Reggie Gilbert, Vince Biegel and Kyler Fackrell — to provide a lift with zero assurances it’ll happen.
The following players didn’t take part in practice due to injury:
WR Davante Adams
LB Clay Matthews
LB Nick Perry
WR Trevor Davis
OL Bryan Bulaga
OL Lane Taylor
Two players — safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Tramon Williams — did not attend the voluntary session.