Green Bay Packers’ Training Camp has been underway for a week now and these are my five observations up to this point.
The Green Bay Packers are trying to find their way in their first training camp under new head coach Matt LaFleur.
So far, things have been a work in progress as LaFleur tries to establish a culture and for the most part, the team sounds excited and refreshed coming into camp.
While it is still early, what we can see is that there’s definitely a new attitude in Green Bay these days. Whether it equates to more wins on the field remains to be seen.
Over this past week, I have sporadically been putting observations on my personal Twitter account, which you can follow @JacobWestendorf.
Through the first week, here are five of those observations, with a little more analysis that isn’t confined by a character limit.
1. Tim Boyle isn’t beating out Deshone Kizer
I know Tim Boyle has become a bit of a favorite on Green Bay Packers Twitter as he’s incredibly entertaining. The “Tim Boyle Laser Show” is something that will light up preseason games and as someone who watches every second of the preseason, that’s something that does not go unappreciated.
Some have even wondered if the Packers could move Boyle up to the primary backup role and either demote or release Deshone Kizer. I have a hard time seeing that happen for a number of reasons.
One of which is that Kizer’s talent continues to show up, even if he is inconsistent. An example of his inconsistent play could be seen on the first two days of camp where he had two separate deep shots to Equanimeous St. Brown. The first day of camp saw him airmail St. Brown by a sizable margin. But on Day 2, he unleashed a beauty and hit St. Brown for what would’ve been a 60-yard touchdown.
Secondly, the investment the Packers made in Kizer warrants them giving him more than one season. They’ve essentially acknowledged that they believe a majority of their issues offensively from a season ago were coaching-based. If that applies to Aaron Rodgers, it also applies to Kizer. In fact, Kizer was thrown into some incredibly poor situations both times that he played significant snaps.
This is not to suggest Kizer isn’t at fault for his poor play a season ago, but it would be surprising for the Packers to give up on someone they made a relatively sizable investment in just one year ago.
2. Montravius Adams’ Year 3 Leap
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s blunt honesty is refreshing. He stated earlier in the week that he told Adams a year ago exactly what he thought of him and if you’re wondering, it wasn’t a positive opinion.
Adams took what Pettine had to say in stride and was able to improve immensely through the offseason. As a result, Adams has been named by Kenny Clark, Pettine, and Brian Gutekunst as someone who has been one of the most improved players in camp.
Defensive linemen typically make their leap in year three if they are going to become impactful NFL players. Well, this is Adams’ third season. He was a top-100 pick and he’s incredibly talented but has been unable to put everything together.
With the shocking (and irresponsible if you ask me, but that’s another topic) release of Mike Daniels, Adams is in line to take a majority of the third defensive lineman snaps along with Clark and Dean Lowry. He’s gotten the praise from the right people, now he needs to continue to prove it on the field.
3. Rashan Gary surpassing expectations early
It’s ok to admit it, you were upset when the Green Bay Packers took Rashan Gary. He was a disappointing college player with a small amount of production considering all of his athletic gifts.
He had baseless questions regarding his motor and work ethic as well. However, through the first week of camp, those questions have appeared to have died off.
While the Packers haven’t played any meaningful football yet, Gary has been far and away their most impressive rookie. Gary has looked the part and his athleticism is evident on the field.
He’s had chances at several of the “splash” plays that eluded him in college. Obviously sacking the quarterback won’t come in practice, but he has beaten players like Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari in one-on-one drills. He’s truly looked the part so far.
Gary has the chance to transform this defense if he’s good immediately. It’ll be interesting to see what he does when he faces other teams top offensive tackles.
4. This looks like a redshirt year for Jace Sternberger
Sternberger was the Packers highest selected skill player in the draft which led to some excitement. He does have some potential as a big-play tight end but it appears for now that he is well behind Jimmy Graham, Robert Tonyan, and Marcedes Lewis for snaps on offense. It would seem that the Packers think that Sternberger will be best suited for a redshirt season, before stepping into action in 2020.
Graham appears to be the unquestioned starter at this point. However, what has been interesting is Robert Tonyan has been getting a good portion of the TE2 reps.
Those extra reps could be for a few reasons, one is because the Packers think he’s better than Lewis at this stage. Or it could simply mean that they know what they have with a grizzled veteran like Lewis and want to see more from Tonyan.
Ultimately, none of those things bode well for Sternberger getting on the field in his rookie season.
5. Josh Jones and the organization are moving past the offseason drama
Jones was part of the offseason drama that hit following the NFL Draft. Jones avoided anything that was voluntary and had a hamstring injury that we could call questionable during mandatory mini-camp. He had requested a trade and the Packers basically laughed off the request.
Since camp has begun, the Green Bay Packers and Jones have appeared to put that drama behind them. Jones has been playing the dime linebacker role which is the position he was drafted for two years ago.
Despite a scuffle in Wednesday’s practice, Jones has been a model teammate since being back. Even with the fight that he was removed from practice for, that began with him defending one of his teammates. It’s hard to be too upset with him over that, but with that said, LaFleur did the right thing considering his no-tolerance policy.
Jones stated that he was ready to put the offseason in the past. He has always had a lot of potential and if he’s capable of playing in the box, he gives the Green Bay Packers a very intriguing defense with their dime looks.