In my previous article, I detailed the Packers first full week of training camp. Now, here is Packers August Training Camp Pt.1.
Friday Night Scrimmage
As is tradition, the Packers have an open, evening practice. This year, it was scheduled on Friday, August 2nd. They designate this as family night and is used as a way to get players accustomed to the Green Bay atmosphere. This was also the first time that the team was at Lambeau Field as they normally hold practices at Ray Nitschke Field.
Working with the 1st-team offense, wide receiver Jake Kumerow was one of the brightest spots of family night. His personal highlights include beating star cornerback Jaire Alexander 1-on-1. The chemistry between Kumerow and Aaron Rodgers appears to be growing by the day.
Furthermore, Geronimo Allison was able to beat veteran defensive back, Tramon Williams. This was done in the slot, the place on the field where both players appear likely to line up during most of the season. This is a great sign for Allison as Williams is entering his 13th-season and has been deployed all over the secondary during his career. Williams knows how to cover and Allison will be expected to beat excellent slot corners in 2019. Great night for the starting offense.
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However, the 2nd-string unit had mixed reviews. After recovering well from his initial struggles, DeShone Kizer ran into some troubles again. He was late on a throw to Equanimeous St. Brown. This resulted in a pick-6 for cornerback Tony Brown. Continuing this trend, he threw another interception, this time to cornerback Chandon Sullivan on a tipped pass intended for J’Mon Moore. Credit rookie defensive back Ka’Dar Hollman with the tip.
Regardless, Kizer is expected to be the backup quarterback this season. It would take consistently great plays from others in order to knock him off his spot on the depth chart. Plays like the 70-yard bomb that undrafted free-agent Manny Wilkins threw to Trevor Davis during family night.
With veteran kicker Mason Crosby still nursing a calf injury, Sam Ficken took advantage and had arguably his best outing at camp. He went 9 for 12 during the scrimmage, including hitting a 63 yarder to end practice.
Josh Jackson and Kevin King were expected to compete throughout camp for the starting spot opposite cornerback Jaire Alexander. However, Jackson has missed most of training camp with a foot injury. Unfortunately, King has joined him on the sideline with a hamstring injury. Neither player is expected to be out long-term, but it is still a blow nonetheless.
In the absence of both players, Tony Brown got some work with the 1st-team defense and looks to be a key part of the secondary depth. Brown has performed well, even though he got beat by Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a bomb from Rodgers. This is to be expected going up against the player who may end up as the Packers primary deep threat during the season.
There was even more good news as Darnell Savage made his on-the-field training camp debut. Right away, he was inserted into the starting lineup at free safety. This moved Raven Greene (and not Josh Jones) to become the primary dime linebacker.
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Practice with the Texans
In advance of their first pre-season game, the Packers hosted the Houston Texans for practices on August 5th and 6th.
The first major takeaway is how well David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga performed against the Texans vaunted pass rush. During scrimmages, Rodgers constantly had time to find open receivers and get the ball out on time. One of his best throws was a downfield dart to Robert Tonyan. The tight end is doing almost as much to claim a role in the offense as fullback Dan Vitale. With both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams sidelined, Vitale got the first crack and carries. He was even the first player targeted by Rodgers on day 2 of the join practices.
The good Green Bay fortunes continued on the other side of the football. Members of their front 7 were disrupting the Houston offense time after time. Standouts include 1st-round rookie Rashan Gary whose power moves were too much to handle. However, Gary was not the only one with success. Montravius Adams, Kyler Fackrell and Za’Darius Smith all managed to get past the Texans offensive line. Even Raven Greene was successful on a safety blitz.
Drama ensued on the first day of these practices. After making impressive catches from DeShone Kizer, rookie tight end Jace Sternberger was hit hard by Houston cornerback Lonnie Johnson. Sternberger was evaluated for a concussion and has not practiced since. After the hit, a scrum ensued between the two teams.
Didn’t Cut It
As the injuries began to pile up, the Packers needed to waive players in order to add depth at certain positions. One such release was that of offensive tackle Jason Spriggs. The former 2nd-round pick was waived with an injury designation as he had been dealing with a hurt trap muscle.
Moving forward, 2nd-year player Alex Light now appears to be the favorite for the swing tackle role that seemed destined for Spriggs. There is also Cole Madison who played tackle in college. However, he has been seeing a lot of time in the interior of the offensive line. One unconventional way to deal with an injury to either tackle would be to move starting right guard Billy Turner to right tackle as he has experience moving all over the line in previous stops. That may be a major factor as to why Green Bay made Turner a priority in free agency.
Kicking it at Camp
Eventually, Mason Crosby returned from his calf injury. In one of the practices vs the Texans, he had a head-to-head competition against Sam Ficken. Crosby went 4-for-5 while Ficken hit all 5 of his attempts. Both players converted from 51 yards. While Ficken got a head start in camp, Crosby still has the advantage of being a Super Bowl champion who has made some clutch kicks for the Packers. Yes, this is a new coaching staff, so the door is open for the veteran to lose his job, but one would have to believe that he is the frontrunner unless he performs quite poorly.
Thank you for reading Packers August Training Camp Pt.1. For more training camp news from around the NFL, be sure to check out all of the content on Full Press Coverage.
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