On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers began their first week of organized team activities with their full roster, including the rookie class. As always, these are voluntary workouts, meaning that many of their players elected to skip the event. Today’s practice was open, so we finally got a look at how the 2022 team might start to shake out.
Here are the notable tidbits from practice.
Who showed up
According to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, the players who did not report were quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receivers Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins, tight end Marcedes Lewis, edge rushers Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin and Randy Ramsey and cornerback Rasul Douglas. Lazard has yet to sign his one-year, $3.9 million offer with the Packers after the team placed a second-round tender on him in March. The deadline for other teams to send qualifying offers to restricted free agents was back on March 16th, meaning Green Bay holds the leverage on this contract dispute.
Schneidman also noted that running back Kylin Hill (ACL), tight end Robert Tonyan (ACL), offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (ACL) and Elgton Jenkins (ACL) and defensive lineman Dean Lowry (undisclosed injury) were working in the rehab group at practice . While Jenkins was dressed down in a jersey, Bakhtiari was still working out in a t-shirt. Bakhtiari has practiced off-and-on since he was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list in 2021 for a 2020 ACL tear that was complicated due to a swelling issue.
In part due to the absence of Rodgers, Watkins and Lazard, the Packers’ top quarterback in practice was Jordan Love and the team’s first-team receivers were rookie Christian Watson and Randall Cobb, per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Starters getting special teams looks
Per Schneidman, running back Aaron Jones, inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and safety Adrian Amos were “active participants” on special teams on Tuesday. Last week, new Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia stated that there’s value in getting starters on special teams, bringing up the fact that former All-Pro cornerback Ronde Barber played special teams for him on multiple phases of the game deep into his NFL career.
One would think that some of the non-reporters, like Lazard and Douglas, will be heavily involved on special teams once they show up for practice. Bisaccia also mentioned that Bakhtiari could eventually help the team in field goal protection.
The Packers’ starting five up front
According to Wood, the Packers’ starting offensive line from left to right in practice on Tuesday was Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman and Cole Van Lanen. Green Bay selected three offensive linemen in the draft, but the coaching staff seems to be in no rush to give them the bulk of reps early on in camp.
The interior offensive line’s lineup is not much of a shock, as the expectation is that Runyan and Myers return as starters in 2022, but Van Lanen, who recorded one snap after being selected in the sixth round last season, cracking the lineup is a bit of a surprise. Per Schneidman, the first rotation the offensive line made was kicking Newman out to right tackle and bringing Jake Hanson to play guard off of the bench. Hanson, over his Packers career, has primarily played center for the team.
Obviously, the offensive line situation will change as Bakhtiari and Jenkins get healthy and the rookies get the playbook nailed down, but that’s where it stands today.
Starting nose tackle TJ Slaton?
According to Wood, Kenny Clark played a good amount of three-technique (defensive end) snaps in Green Bay’s 3-4 base at practice. With the recently-signed Jarran Reed opposite of Clark, TJ Slaton took up snaps as the team’s nose tackle. With Lowry out and the Packers slow-playing rookies, who really knows how the defensive line will look in Week 1? By then, Clark could be back at nose tackle with Lowry and rookie first-round pick Devonte Wyatt playing the ends for the team.
With that being said, it is worth noting that the Packers are trying to get Slaton involved early on this offseason. Last year, Slaton played sporadically behind Clark and Tyler Lancaster at the nose tackle position. Slaton, who played offensive line almost exclusively in high school, is a highly-athletic player who needed some time to develop his game coming out of Florida. In 2021, Slaton played 255 snaps on the defensive side of the ball with four of his five games of 20-plus snaps coming in the final four weeks of the regular season.