Observations and Takeaways from Packers final OTA practice

By: Paul Bretl 6/4/24

The Green Bay Packers held their final OTA practice that was open to the media on Tuesday. Next week, mandatory minicamp will take place June 11-13, and then the team will break until they reconvene in mid-July for training camp.

As always, here are my takeaways and observations from the OTA practice:

Perfect attendance: All 91 players on the Packers roster were in attendance in some capacity. Zach Tom, Tyler Davis, Kitan Oladapo, and Tucker Kraft were still not practicing. For the first time, Jaire Alexander wasn’t practicing either. We have not received an update as to why. Alex McGough returned after dropping out of the first practice two weeks ago, but he again dropped out this week.

Lukas Van Ness was back on the practice field after missing last week with a “little bit” of a broken thumb. Afterward, Matt LaFleur said he was excited about Van Ness, and mentioned many pass rushers take a “huge jump” in their second NFL season. Playing with his hand in the dirt in Jeff Hafley’s 4-3 defense will be familiar to him, after spending most of his career at Iowa playing that way.

I can’t sit here with certainty and say that AJ Dillon is slimmer following the offseason, but from a distance he looks that way while still being quite strong. During a pass-catching drill, his burst as he turned up field was impressive. 

The starting offensive line consisted of Rasheed Walker at left tackle, followed by Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Sean Rhyan, and Jordan Morgan. While things can still change, Walker appears to be the clear No. 1 option at left tackle through OTAs. Along with playing right tackle, Morgan played left guard as well. 

GM Brian Gutekunst frequently used the word ‘interchangeable’ this offseason to describe the safety position. Well, we saw that on display today with Xavier McKinney, Javon Bullard, and Evan Williams being moved all over the field. There were also plenty of three-safety looks from the defense today as well. During the first practice, Bullard and Williams worked strictly with the second and third defenses. Last week, they saw time with that group and the starters. Today, they were with the starters.

The special teams units are featuring a fair number of offensive and defensive starters at this time. This was a unit that again ranked as one of the worst in football by Rick Gosselin’s annual rankings. Once again, Daniel Whelan was quite impressive. This time last year we could see the big leg, but as Rich Bisaccia talked about over the course of last season, he’s got a better understanding of where his teammates will be, the type of kick to make, the direction, and more. 

We knew this watching last year’s offense, but there are what feels like limitless combinations at receiver that Matt LaFleur can utilize. One combination that featured Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks out wide and Bo Melton in the slot ended in a 75 yard touchdown pass to Melton who got behind Eric Stokes and Anthony Johnson. After practice, LaFleur spoke very highly of Melton, and what he bring to the offense, both as a pass catcher and run blocker. 

The versatility and the athleticism that the Packers have built along the offensive line could result in more opportunities to get blockers in space. We saw that a bit today as the Packers were clearly working on toss plays. Speaking of which, on one of those toss plays, Edgerrin Cooper blew it up in the backfield. A terrific display of his speed and ability to diagnose.

The linebacker position: As of now, Quay Walker appears to be the favorite to be the Mike and wear the green dot. When the Packers are in base, Walker is in the Middle, with Eric Wilson to his left and Isaiah McDuffie to his right. When the Packers were in nickel, Cooper was quickly rotated in. 

Overall, it was a sound performance from all three kickers. Jack Podlesney finished the day 5-for-7. Greg Joseph was 6-for-7, as was Anders Carlson. To finish practice, all three kickers attempted field goals from 53 yards with their teammates closely huddled around them and yelling while the music blared. Podlesney and Joseph would both miss left, but Carlson would make his. 

Sean Clifford in the two-minute drill: Practice again ended with a two-minute period. The offense was at their own 25-yard line and had a 1:30 on the clock. The defense dominated this matchup, with Clifford struggling to find anywhere to go with the ball while the pass rush closed in. We also saw the defense mix some blitzes in as well. The drive went four-and-out.

Jordan Love in the two-minute drill: In the same scenario as Clifford, Love led the offense into field goal range, with Carlson and Joseph each making the 57-yarder, while Podlesney missed. Love was very poised and in control, taking what the defense gave him as he stacked up nine and 10-yard completions. 

Michael Pratt in the two-minute drill: This was another victory for the defense. Pratt finished the drive 1-for-4 with a drop from Malik Heath over the middle, ending the series.