Observations and takeaways from Packers first OTA practice

By: Paul Bretl 5/21/24

Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are underway for the Green Bay Packers. This is the first opportunity this offseason where the Packers’ incoming rookies, new free agent additions, and returning players will be in the building and on the practice field together.

Over the next three weeks of OTAs, one practice each week will be open to the media. The first of those practices took place on Tuesday. Here are my observations and takeaways from what I saw:

– Robert Rochell was not in attendance—he had a personal matter to tend to. Tucker Kraft did not participate and had his arm in a sling. Matt LaFleur says he will be back by training camp or shortly after it begins. He is dealing with a pec injury.

– Also not participating were Kitan Oladapo, Keshawn Banks, and Zach Tom. Like Kraft, Tom is also working through a pec injury but should be ready for training camp. Josh Jacobs participated during stretch but not individual or team drills. LaFleur says he is working through a hamstring injury but expects him back soon.

– LaFleur says they’ve had almost 100 percent attendance this offseason.

– Kingsley Enagbare was a full participant in today’s practice. He left the Dallas game with an ACL injury. The thought was that it was a tear, but following the draft, GM Brian Gutekunst said that wasn’t the case. Enagbare’s availability is a big boost for the Packers’ defensive end depth, which has some question marks without him.

– Both Colby Wooden and Carrington Valentine look bigger this offseason and in a good way. LaFleur said Wooden put on a few pounds, which will help him with what they will be asking him to do this season.

– The Packers were running through their new kick return drills. Last week, Rich Bisaccia said they are still in the early stages of figuring out what works best. A key part for the coverage unit will be having the best tacklers on the field. 

– I mentioned this during rookie minicamp, but the stretching that the Packers go through before practice is different. The period is longer and looks like it involves more dynamic drills.

– Christian Watson was looking very quick out there. In both 7-on-7 and team drills, he made a few plays today. LaFleur said this is the best shape that he has seen both Watson and Eric Stokes in.

– Daniel Whelan had a really impressive day. Big punts with great hang time. 

– The 11-on-11 team drills aren’t being run at quite full speed. Instead, the focus is on teaching and making sure everyone is positioned in the right spots.

-In nickel, the Packers starting linebackers were Isaiah McDuffie and Quay Walker–although we saw Edgerrin Cooper rotated in as well. Walker appeared to be the one making the defensive play calls and getting everyone positioned pre-snap.

– Eric Stokes got the start across from Jaire Alexander over Carrington Valentine.

– The Packers had two sets of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11s taking place, with several of the rookies on the opposite side from the starters. With that group, Javon Bullard was the deep safety and Evan Williams the free safety. We also saw Corey Ballentine getting some snaps as the nickel cornerback. 

– With Bullard and Williams on one side of the field, Anthony Johnson was lining up next to Xavier McKinney. Johnson was playing with that fast and physical mentality we’ve heard so much about this offseason. 

– On the initial starting line it was Rasheed Walker at left tackle, followed by Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Sean Rhyan, and Andre Dillard with the rookies on the other part of the field. Jordan Morgan saw snaps at both right and left tackle, with Jenkins playing center with the second team offense. The offensive line was rotated very heavily as expected. 

– Another offensive line combination featured Caleb Jones at left tackle, Donovan Jennings at left guard, Jacob Monk at center, Kadeem Telfort at right guard, and Luke Tenuta at right tackle.

– Without Kraft, Henry Pearson got some good looks today. He will have the opportunity to carve out a role as the H-back with Josiah Deguara in Jacksonville.

– We’ve heard on a few occasions this offseason that Devonte Wyatt is really going to benefit from Jeff Hafley’s penetrating, one-gap defensive scheme and we saw that on a run play where Wyatt was almost instantly in the backfield.

– As he should in 7-on-7 and not full-speed 11-on-11 drills, Jordan Love looked the part. He had great rhythm, went through his progressions and was accurate. He attacked the middle of the field and connected on a deep ball to Samori Toure. LaFleur said the purpose of the 7-on-7 drills is to focus on footwork and progressions.

– As was the case during minicamp, we saw a lot of single high looks from the Packers’ defense, which is going to be a staple under Hafley. 

– Anders Carlson and Greg Joseph each had six field goal attempts. Admittedly, it was difficult to get an accurate count on who made what, but I will say that Carlson packed more power on a windy day.