What to know and watch for during Packers’ minicamp

By: Paul Bretl 6/10/24

Offseason programs will conclude this week for the Green Bay Packers and are capped off with a minicamp, which will take place on June 11th and 12th.

Offseason programs began for the Packers back on April 15th, with OTAs taking place over the last three weeks. Up until this point, everything has been voluntary for the players, but minicamp is considered mandatory. Throughout OTAs, the Packers have had near-perfect attendance.

During minicamp, there still won’t be pads nor live tackling, but the players get their first taste of training camp with the intensity kicked up a few notches compared to OTAs.

Once these two days conclude, the team will break before they reconvene on July 22nd for their first training camp practice and, eventually, the preseason. Here are a few things I’ll be watching for over the next few days:

Do we see Jordan Morgan at right guard? The Packers have been moving Morgan around the offensive line during OTAs, but where we haven’t seen him is at right guard with the starters. Instead, Sean Rhyan has been taking those snaps. As the Packers search for their ‘best five’ on the offensive line, it feels like right guard is Morgan’s best chance right now at starting if he can push Rhyan for playing time. With Zach Tom nursing a pec injury, there hasn’t been any indication that he won’t be at right tackle and Rasheed Walker has been the go-to option at left tackle.

Javon Bullard and Evan Williams getting more involved on defense: Through the three OTA practices that were open to the media, we saw Javon Bullard and Evan Williams’ roles with the starting defense continue to progress–going from playing just with the backups during the first practice, to see snaps with Xavier McKinney during the third practice. As I wrote about following last week’s practice, we saw the versatility of this position group on display, with McKinney, Bullard, and Williams constantly being moved around the formation. We also saw all three of them on the field together and a lot of late post-snap movement to cause some confusion.

The rotation of the defensive front: Matt LaFleur really likes the depth that the Packers have at defensive tackle and defensive end. That element, coupled with Jeff Hafley’s attack one-gap defense, could result in a very heavy rotation up front this season. This potential hockey-like line rotation will help keep everyone fresh, providing no breaks for the offensive line, and also allow Hafley to get creative by mixing-and-matching his rotations based on the opponent, and putting each defender in a position where their skill set can be maximized.

AJ Dillon: Back in Green Bay on a one-year deal with very little non-guaranteed dollars, I wouldn’t Dillon consider a roster lock. However, in the early going, as Marshawn Lloyd gets up to speed and Josh Jacobs works his way back from a hamstring injury, Dillon has seen his share of snaps in OTAs with the starting offense. Dillon provides a reliable, well-rounded skill set to the Packers offense, which very much provides value. But where he needs to improve is in his playmaking, after averaging just 3.4 yards per carry last season, with only eight rushes of 10-plus yards. Dillon says he is in the best shape of his life, as he put it, looking a bit slimmer while still maintaining his muscle mass, hopefully giving him more juice with the ball in his hands.

How the linebacker rotation continues to evolve: It’s early, but the linebacker rotation is starting to take some shape. When the Packers have been in their base 4-3 defense, Quay Walker has been the middle linebacker with Isaiah McDuffie to his left and Eric Wilson to his right. When the Packers are in nickel, we’ve seen both McDuffie and Edgerrin Cooper lining up next to Walker. Also of note, particularly during the two-minute periods, we’ve seen more blitzing from the linebacker position. I’m curious to see how – or if – this rotation and the roles potentially change as Cooper gets more experience in the system.

Eric Stokes and Christian Watson: LaFleur has said that both players look the best physically that he has ever seen them. Both Stokes and Watson spent time this offseason at UW-Madison, trying to get to the root of their hamstring issues from last season. Stokes, Watson, and the Packers all feel good about where they are at and the path they are on, but as LaFleur said, only time will tell. Stokes has been getting the starting snaps opposite of Jaire Alexander through OTAs, while Watson’s burst of the offensive side of the ball is clear as day. Getting the most out of the offensive and defensive units for the Packers includes Stokes and Watson being high-impact players this season.

Opportunity for Henry Pearson: With Tucker Kraft sidelined with a pec injury and Tyler Davis still working his way back from an ACL injury, Pearson has been the Packers’ third tight end during OTAs, giving him an opportunity to showcase what he can do with the starting offense at times. Pearson can fill that do-it-all move tight end role and be a key special teams contributor if he’s able to make the final roster.

Offense vs. defense: Typically, in the early part of the year and even into training camp, it is the defense that has the advantage over the offense. However, the Packers’ offense has continuity, while the defensive side of the ball does not. LaFleur and Adam Stenavich have both said there is a night-and-day difference in the offense this offseason compared to last. The defense, meanwhile, is implementing a new system and has introduced several new players to the middle of it. When we do see some competitive 11-on-11 situations, I would expect the offense to be the one finding more success, especailly with how this unit finished last season.

Competition at kicker: LaFleur said in the early going of the offseason that each of the Packers’ three kickers have had their moments. There’s been good, and there’s been not-so-good for each of them. During the most recent practice that was open to the media, Anders Carlson, Greg Joseph, and Jack Podlesny all had sound days, with Carlson and Joseph going 6-for-7 on field goals and Podlesny 5-for-7. With so much time between where we are now and when the 53-man roster has to be put together, it’s going to be very difficult for someone to separate themselves from the group over a good day or two during minicamp. This competition is a marathon, not a sprint, with day-to-day consistency likely being the key factor in determining who will win this job.