Before the Green Bay Packers take on the Bengals on Friday in their first preseason game, the team has already traveled to Cincinnati for a joint practice, which will be taking place on Wednesday afternoon. Below you will find live updates from the reporters in attendance.
Matt LaFleur has been a big proponent of joint practices and made them a part of the Packers’ training camp schedule almost immediately upon his arrival. It’s an opportunity for the starters to get meaningful snaps in a controlled environment. It also allows the Packers players to go up against other competition in practice.
"“It’s a unique opportunity going against one of the premier teams in the National Football League.” said LaFleur on Monday. “It’s going to be a great test for our football team.”"
Of course, all eyes will be on Jordan Love and this young Packers offense going up against an opposing defense. As expected, Love has had his ups and downs and is searching for more consistency, which, as LaFleur has mentioned on a few occasions, begins with his process before the ball is delivered. While there are unknowns on this side of the ball, there is excitement as well with all of the speed and versatility this unit has.
In addition to how Love and the overall offense performs, a few other things I’ll be watching for during practice and, specifically, in the preseason game include the interior defensive line, who has performed quite well this summer, and the positional battles at starting right tackle and center, the third running back, and safety positions.
"“We went through the whole practice in terms of what is the emphasis of the periods,” said LaFleur about his collaboration with Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor. “The number of reps that the ones will be going against the twos. But it’s hard to get into we want to see this corner against this receiver. How ever it plays itself out, more or less.”"
Notes from Matt LaFleur’s pre-practice press conference
– LaFleur said the joint practice is a great opportunity to go against a premier team with a great roster that’s played at a high level. Will give the Packers to see where they are at.
– A majority of the practice will be scripted but the move the ball and two-minute drills will be unscripted.
– There will be one-on-ones between the offensive and defensive lines while the rest of the players do seven-on-seven.
– The Bengals defensive front is “really, really good” and LaFleur called them one of the better fronts in football that plays hard and has a distinct play style.
– The Packers haven’t full decided if Love and the starters are going to participate Friday but LaFleur did say there was a “pretty good chance” we see them.
– LaFleur will sit down with David Bakhtiari to see how he feels and if he will suit up on Friday.
– LaFleur said that the Bengals have one of the best wide receiving corps in the NFL and will test the Green Bay cornerbacks.
– The Bengals pass defense will be a “great challenge” for Love and the young pass catchers. The Packers are also looking to make it challenging for Love as well in terms of what they ask him to do on the practice field.
Notes and updates from reporters at practice
– David Bakhtiari is suited up for the joint practice, per Rob Demovsky. Also practicing is Josiah Deguara, who has been out since last Tuesday with a calf injury, but was not participating in team drills. Ryan Wood would add that Eric Stokes (PUP), Innis Gaines (quad), Lew Nichols (shoulder), and Jake Hanson did not practice. Rashan Gary was on the practice field again after being activated off PUP on Monday, but he still did not participate in team drills.
– Per Ryan Wood, Love missed Romeo Doubs deep over the middle of the field. Doubs had a step on his defender. It’s been on these downfield throws where we’ve seen perhaps the most inconsistency from Love.
– A few other notes from Wood, Luke Musgrave had a catch over the middle in 7-on-7s. Whether on stop routes, crossers, or down the seam, Musgrave is going to see a lot of targets in this part of the field. With Love at quarterback, the offense as a whole is going to attack that part of the field more. Christian Watson also made a play over the middle on a crossing route with a linebacker on him. Earlier in training camp, LaFleur spoke on Watson’s versatility, which allows him to be moved around pre-snap to create mismatches along with running a wide variety of routes.
– In the first 11-on-11 period, the Packers defense held up very well, according to Paul Dehner, who covers the Bengals for The Athletic. He said there was little space for Cincinnati in the passing game—although keep in mind that the Bengals are without Joe Burrow. The success that the Bengals found was on a Mixon run and Tyler Boyd made a play down the seam.
– Wes Hodkiewicz noted that Jonathan Owens was alternating reps with Dallin Leavitt as personal protector on the punt coverage unit. In a crowded safety room, is Leavitt being only a special teams contributor enough to keep him on the 53? Something to watch.
– On his first set of field goal attempts, Anders Carlson missed the extra point, but was good from 37 and 39 yards, according to Wood. For whatever reason, that first attempt has given him issues this summer.
– According to Hodkiewicz, Jaire Alexander did practice but not in team drills, which meant Carrington Valentine was on the boundary with the starters. He came away with two red zone pass breakups. As I wrote recently, Valentine could be as high as fourth on the cornerback depth chart right now.
– According to PFF’s Steve Palazzolo, Alex McGough connected with Malik Heath on a go-ball. Heath, along with Bo Melton, have been building momentum, but it’s important they build upon these performances during the preseason if they are going to challenge for the sixth receiver role. LaFleur called Heath a “very physical” receiver.
– Palazzolo added that Love was targeting the underneath routes quite a bit. The Bengals were taking away the deep balls and Love took what they gave him. With the speed on this offense, these types of plays should create YAC opportunities.
– Musgrave was lined up out wide quite a bit, said Palazzolo, something we will see a lot of this season. For reference, Robert Tonyan played about 20% of his snaps last season from the boundary. With his speed, Musgrave can have a real size advantage against most cornerbacks. He is a matchup problem.
– Sam Monson from PFF tweeted that Romeo Doubs has been open “consistently” against the Bengals defense.
– Early on in practice, Monson mentioned that DJ Reader had been wrecking a lot of plays. Through training camp up to this point, the Packers interior defensive line had been creating a regular push against the interior of the offensive line.
– Sounds like there was a pair of scuffles with Elgton Jenkins in the mix on both of them.
– Joe Goodberry, who was in attendance, said the Lukas Van Ness was a “handful.” Watching Van Ness live, his burst and power is evident. I’ve also been impressed with how well he’s played the run.
Please note that this article will be updated throughout the day as news from the joint practice comes in.