What to watch for on offense during Packers’ OTAs

By: Paul Bretl 5/20/24

Offseason Team Activities (OTAs) have already been underway for several weeks now for the Packers, but Monday marks the first time the entire team, both veterans and incoming rookies, will be in the meeting rooms and on the practice field together.

Full-team OTAs will run for the next three weeks, with one practice available to the media each week. As is always the case in mid-May, anything we see this time of the year should be taken with a grain of salt. However, as I take in these practices, there will still be four key things on the offensive side of the ball that I’ll be looking for.

Josh Jacobs and Marshawn Lloyd in the passing game

When Matt LaFleur has spoken this offseason, on a few occasions he’s alluded to the potential that both Josh Jacobs and Marshawn Lloyd can bring to the passing game. Jacobs has plenty of passing game experience from his time with the Raiders, totaling 249 targets over his five-year career. During his first meeting with LaFleur after being signed, Jacobs mentioned that he still believes there are more opportunities out there for him as a pass-catcher. He brings a good foundational route-running ability to the position, helping to open up the playbook for LaFleur, who can ask Jacobs to do different things. 

“I was talking to coach about that actually yesterday,” said Jacobs during his introductory press conference back in March, “and I was telling him I felt like I want to catch it a little bit more. I feel like I didn’t get to show that as much as I would have liked. So that definitely something in the conversations we had.”

Lloyd, meanwhile, didn’t have a ton of pass-catching opportunities in college, but he was very effective with them, averaging a whopping 17.8 yards per catch last season. Both LaFleur and Adam Stenavich have said he brings a different element to the running back position with his explosiveness and ability to make defenders miss. There will likely be a learning curve for Lloyd as a pass-catcher, particularly in the route-running aspect, but right away, designed touches for him in space could lead to some really big plays.

“He definitely can be a weapon out of the backfield,” said LaFleur of Lloyd. “I love all the measurables. He’s a 220-pound back that runs 4.4 and can run routes out of the backfield. I think he could be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.”

You can read more here, but to a lesser extent, I’ll be curious to see where AJ Dillon is being lined up. Could he be a potential replacement for Josiah Deguara as the H-back?

Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, Luke Musgrave, and Tucker Kraft in Year 2

For most successful NFL players, Year 2 comes with a major developmental leap. Rather than spending the offseason going through the pre-draft process and learning the offense, these four players have had the opportunity to rest following the end of the season and be very diligent in what specific aspects of their game they are trying to improve. From the coaching standpoint, LaFleur and Co. know the skill sets of each of these players and where they fit best into the offense, allowing them to dive deeper into the playbook. These four, and the Packers’ offense as a whole, should be lightyears ahead of where they were this time last year.

“Oh it’s night and day,” said Adam Stenavich. “Night and day because like last year, going into the draft, we had maybe three receivers on the roster. We had two tight ends on the roster, so it was just one of those things where you didn’t really know what direction you could go yet because you didn’t really know who was gonna be on your team and what skillset they had and even going into camp and going into the season, it was the same deal like, how much can you put on these guys plates and allow them to go out and execute?”

Offensive line configurations

My guess right now is that the starting offensive line during the first team drill is Rasheed Walker, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Sean Rhyan, and Zach Tom. However, the potential combinations that the Packers could utilize as they search for their ‘best five’ seems endless. From the sounds of it, Jordan Morgan will start at left tackle, where he played his entire college career, competing with Walker. The Packers could also have Morgan compete at right guard with Rhyan or have Morgan or Walker line up at right tackle and move Tom inside. Fifth-round pick Jacob Monk could compete at center or right guard as well. 

While there will be a lot of movement and experimenting this summer, Myers’ sole focus will be on playing the center position. There won’t be any cross-training for him. Myers finished out the 2023 season strong, and the Packers like the leadership ability he brings to that room, along with the rapport he’s built with Jordan Love and his ability pre-snap to get everyone on the same page from a protection standpoint. With that said, more consistent play is needed, and the Packers have a few different players – most notably Monk and Tom – who could potentially push Myers.

“Just to continue to grow, just like our expectations for everybody,” said OL coach Luke Butkus of Myers. “Every day, get better. That’s where Josh excelled last year. He did get better as the year went on and he had command of this offense and took charge, was a little bit more vocal toward the end in commanding this offense. So, what do we need from him? Just to get better every single day. Keep improving.”

Jordan Love countering the counters

Admittedly, I won’t glean many answers to this question during OTAs but in Love’s second year as a starter, countering the counters will go a long way in him continuing to ascend as a quarterback. Defenses have now had a full offseason to game plan for Love and the Packers offense. They’ve dissected the tape and figured out what he does well, where he struggles, and they will draw up game plans to take away the former while trying to put Love in the latter more often. It’s not only important that Love knows how to respond to these looks, but that he does so more quickly in Year 2.

“You might anticipate a defense maybe bringing a little more pressure,” said QB coach Tom Clements. “Disguising a little bit more. Making it more difficult to see where to go. So that’s from a quarterback standpoint, if that happens you have to have a lot of film study and be able to react. I mean that was one of Aaron’s best attributes is the he could process information very quickly and usually make the right decision and get the ball where it had to go. That’s something that we’ll have to see how defenses approach it, but that’s something you’ve got to be ready for.”

Kicker competition

The Packers have three kickers on the roster currently, and the competition for that starting spot is already well underway. Along with Anders Carlson, the Packers signed Jack Podlesny shortly after the season ended. Podlesny kicked at Georgia, went undrafted in 2023, and struggled to stick with a team last season. Greg Joseph was signed during free agency. He’s spent the last few seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, where he made 82.2 percent of his field goal attempts the last three seasons, including going 32-for-49 from 40-plus yards. For what it’s worth, Joseph has struggled at Lambeau Field the last few seasons. 

While the Packers gave Carlson the opportunity to go through growing pains last season, that won’t be the case in 2024. He will have to earn the starting job, and from the sounds of it, the Packers will continue to explore outside options at kicker if neither of these three are taking control of the starting job.

“I don’t know the answer to that. It might be those three. It might be three other ones,” said Rich Bisaccia. “I don’t know. It might be six. We’re appreciative of certainly Brian getting it to the point where it’s at right now, having a three-man competition. We’ll see how long we can keep that going.

“Maybe the anticipation of even having, you know, there’s some things going on in a bunch of different leagues, right, that everyone’s about, so we’re going to keep investigating to try to end up with the best player we possibly can.”