GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have held three practices in training camp so far, which means it’s way too early to draw conclusions about what we’ve seen. However, that’s not going to stop us from doing so anyway. So here’s our takeaways from the first three days, including the first practice in pads on Saturday.
1) Working to get on the same page
The free agent tight end was the biggest offseason acquisition for Green Bay on offense, joining the Packers after three seasons in Seattle. Rodgers has looked to Graham a number of times during 11-on-11 work but the two have rarely hooked up. It’s looked, at different times, like Rodgers has tried to force the ball to Graham, including on a goal line snap Saturday. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix read it and nearly picked the ball off. It’s early, but as Graham said after the third practice, it’s his job to get on the same page as Rodgers and he’s working to do that.
2) Ty Montgomery could still be a factor
Whether Aaron Jones or Jaamal Williams end up being the No. 1 running back this season, it still seems like Ty Montgomery is going to play a role in Green Bay’s offense. He spent Friday working with the first-team offense during the two-minute drill and did so lining up all over the field. The fourth-year back also got time on Saturday with the starters and was more than happy to run right over someone at the goal line. Fans may have given up on Montgomery, but it doesn’t appear the Packers have.
“I don’t remember ever giving up any sacks. I’ve always broken tackles, made guys miss. I’ve had explosive plays. It’s just a matter of being hurt and wearing (No. 88) in the backfield. I think there’s a certain narrative that comes with that. But I’m not going to let that be a distraction.” — Montgomery
3) Vibe around the defense is different
Reporters can’t go into detail on formations and play calls, but it’s safe to say there are significant differences on defense with new coordinator Mike Pettine. That will be clear to fans when they see what Green Bay throws at opponents during the regular season. But they’ll also notice a more intense nature from the players and the sideline. No one on defense is afraid to get in someone’s face, whether it’s another defender or someone on offense. After so many years with much of the same coaching staff, things needed a boost emotionally and they’ve clearly gotten that. Will it matter when the bullets start flying on game days? Who knows, but lack of effort or emotion will not be something the defense will be accused of this season.
4) Young WRs making plays
Green Bay drafted three wide receivers in April after already having several more intriguing young guys on the roster. Seemingly, all of them have made plays in the first three days. Trevor Davis, a 2016 draft pick, had the catch of the day on Thursday, while undrafted free agent Jake Kumerow flashed on Friday. On Saturday, with the pads on for the first time, it was the draft picks turn. Marquez Valdez-Scantling hauled in a beauty of a touchdown in the corner of the end zone during team drills and just a few plays later J’Mon Moore was celebrating a score on a reception in the back of the end zone. It’s clear that Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are the starters, and Geronimo Allison is likely to be the No. 3, but the battle for the other spots is going to be fascinating to watch over the next few weeks.
5) Kyler Fackrell won’t go quietly
It was just one rep in 1-on-1 drills, but because of who was involved it became notable. A third-round pick in 2016, Kyler Fackrell had won exactly one rep in pass rushing drills his first two training camps. Yeah, read that again. We’re not talking about the first two days of this training camp. We’re talking about the entirety of his first two years of training camp. So when he stepped in against one of the best left tackles in the NFL — David Bakhtiari — on Saturday, most were expecting domination. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Utah State product shot up field against Bakhtiari before ripping his arm over the top and getting back inside for what likely would have been a sack. It stunned people watching, and though it means little in the overall perspective, it has to provide confidence for Fackrell, who plays a position where the Packers need multiple people to step up.
6) JK Scott looks the part
Whether you’re a fan of the Packers drafting a punter in the fifth round or not, it’s impossible not to be impressed with what JK Scott has done early in camp. His punts have elicited oohs and aahs from media and fans alike, especially on a couple of the 60-yard boots with impressive hang time on Thursday. We’ll obviously wait to see what how he looks come November and December when winter hits, but he’s been more than the real deal in the small sample size of camp.
7) DBs fighting for reps
On the first two days, the top three cornerbacks were Tramon Williams, Davon House and Kevin King. On Saturday, first-round pick Jaire Alexander moved into the starting nickel unit, replacing House. If that’s the group that takes the field against Chicago in the season opener, it wouldn’t be a surprise. But the Packers have been shuffling a ton of bodies in and out so far, including former second-round pick Quinten Rollins getting time with the No. 1 dime unit. However it ends up, it seems clear that Green Bay has a lot more options to pick from this year. And while many of those options are unproven, it appears the ceiling for the group is much higher than it has been in past seasons.
8) Former Badgers
The Packers have three former Wisconsin players in camp. Two of them — outside linebacker Vince Biegel and tight end Lance Kendricks — are good bets to make the roster, while a third — defensive lineman Conor Sheehy — has his work cut out for him.
Team reps have been hard to come by so far for Sheehy. But he did flash on Saturday when the pads went on for the first time. In his first snap during 1-on-1 pass rushing drills, the Milwaukee native abused the guard he faced, driving him right back into the backfield with a bull rush. For those that watched Sheehy the last four years with Wisconsin, that wasn’t a shock.
With Nick Perry on the physically unable to perform list, Biegel has been rotating with Fackrell at the outside linebacker spot opposite Clay Matthews. Players aren’t allowed to tackle the quarterback, but Biegel likely would have a couple sacks in team drills if they were.
Things have been a little quiet for Kendricks so far, but he did haul in a touchdown from Rodgers late in practice on Saturday.
9) Backup QBs have had their moments
It certainly hasn’t been pretty all of the time, but the backup quarterbacks have made plays. DeShone Kizer had the throw of the day on Friday when he found tight end Robert Tonyan for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Brett Hundley threw almost the exact same ball to Valdes-Scantling on Saturday for a score. And despite not getting a ton of team reps, undrafted free agent Tim Boyle has opened some eyes as well with his big arm.