Packers rookie QB Michael Pratt impresses during Wednesday’s OTA practice

By: Paul Bretl 5/31/24

It was only one practice that took place in late May, well before the pads even come on, but one of the standout players on Wednesday was rookie quarterback Michael Pratt and his performance in the two-minute drill.

Up until this point, all of the 11-on-11 team periods that had taken place over the last two weeks of OTAs were done at a pace a little bit faster than a walkthrough. So not only was this Pratt’s first time running the two-minute offense, but it was his first time where everything was moving at full speed.

“It was awesome,” said Pratt of the two-minute period. “I think it was definitely a little bit, not nerve-wracking, but today I kind of learned the whole two-minute operation this morning about an hour before we went out there and did it.

“So at first I was kind of like, alright, I’ve got to figure it out, but getting to watch the first two groups go and getting mental reps in the midst of that definitely helped a lot, and then once I got out there it was kind of just fluid, and everyone was doing their job.”

To wrap up Wednesday’s practice, the Packers’ first, second, and third team units went through an end-of-half two-minute situation. The offense had 1:30 left on the clock and were starting at thier own 25-yard line.

Pratt led the third-team offense into field goal range, which Anders Carlson was able to connect on from 46 yards. Pratt finished the drive, completing 5-of-9 passes for 46 yards, and from my vantage point, it looked like two of those incompletions would have been classified as drops.

However, beyond the numbers that don’t mean a whole lot this time of the year, what stood out most was the process of it all. Playing full-speed, Pratt appeared poised in the pocket, he was mostly accurate, and got the ball out quickly, knowing exactly where to go with it.

In the past, we’ve heard Matt LaFleur mention ‘letting it rip,’ when he’s discussing what he wants to see from Jordan Love or Sean Clifford. This doesn’t mean being overly aggressive or throwing the ball downfield just for the sake of doing so, but rather, being confident in what you see and the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands. On Wednesday, Pratt was letting it rip.

“Definitely slowing down,” said Pratt on the speed of the game. “I think this week, you know, yesterday and today, I think everything’s really started to slow down a little bit. I feel like I’m at the point now where rookie minicamp and first week it was like hearing the whole call and it’s like thinking about the formation, thinking about the motion, thinking about the protection, thinking about the concept, like now once I get the call, I can kind of visualize the formation and the motion together.

“Think about the protection a little bit because I might need to change it and then the concept, now that I know the formation, it’s X this or Z this. I think it’s definitely starting to click a lot better and I’m able to operate a little faster and able to play a little bit faster.”

Adding to Pratt’s performance was the fact that, as he mentioned, he had roughly an hour to take what he learned in the classroom that morning, absorb it, and then go execute on it on the practice field.

This isn’t an unusual process at this stage of the NFL offeseason, and every player had the same task. However, we often hear the phrase ‘drinking from a firehose’ during this time of the year for incoming rookies, and this is a prime example of that.

It’s also a glimpse into one reason why the transition from college to the NFL is such a big leap, particularly at the quarterback position. Pratt, of course, needs to know what he has to execute on, but in order to do that, he has to know everyone else’s responsibility while also deciphering what the defense is doing, and he has a short amount of time to figure all of that out.

“Just trying to lock in and memorize the most that you can, especially the important parts,” said Pratt on how he processed what he had just learned. “It’s all important but there’s some key details that you really have to memorize.

“So, just trying to prioritize that and remember as much as I can and same thing I was saying to them just learn from my mistakes and continue to get better every day.”

As I wrote about following the draft, the Packers decision to select Pratt was more so about getting back to the drafting and developing process at the quarterback position, more so than feeling that they needed to find an upgrade over Clifford. By all accounts, Clifford made strides and performed well in his role last season, with quarterbacks coach Tom Clements expecting a “big jump” from Clifford in his second season.

With that said, if Pratt does end up pushing Clifford during training camp, the Packers aren’t going to shy away from competition either. Having that element in every position room has been a focus this offseason for GM Brian Gutekunst.

At the end of the day, it was one practice, and the next step for Pratt is to build upon that performance through the remainder of OTAs and into minicamp. However, especially given the circumstances, it was an impressive performance, nonetheless.

“Just continuing to learn every single day,” said Pratt. “Mistakes are going to be made at every position – by rookies, by vets – but once you make that mistake, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again.

“There’s a lot of things that are being thrown at us, especially all the rookies. Having to learn so many different things – for a=mations, motions, protections, cadences. There’s so much more than just the play itself. So, just trying to take it all in and getting better every day. I think that’s the most important part.”