Packers RB Marshawn Lloyd focusing on pass-catching prior to training camp

By: Paul Bretl 6/12/24

Coming out of the offseason programs, Green Bay Packers rookie running back Marshawn Lloyd has one area of his game in particular that he is going to focus on before the team reconvenes for training camp: pass catching.

“Pass catching,” said Lloyd at his locker on Tuesday when asked what he will focus on. “Just being able to be available as a pass catcher. Being able to use my abilities to make people miss and be used in space. I feel like that’s something I’m gonna work on this whole offseason. It’s been pretty good.”

The pass-catching component at the running back position is an important factor in Matt LaFleur’s offense, and that not only means having reliable hands, but being able to move around the formation, handling different routes, and the ability to find and operate in space.

When the running back is able to impact the passing game, that can open up the playbook for LaFleur, helping to create one-on-one opportunities and matchup problems for both the running back and also his teammates to exploit.

“I feel like they’ve been using me pretty good and in different ways,” Lloyd said. “I’m super excited about the season. I’m just going to keep pushing throughout this whole break and just getting better and better each day.”

Lloyd wasn’t involved all that heavily in the passing game during his time in college–although as we saw with AJ Dillon, just because the opportunities weren’t there doesn’t mean there isn’t the ability. Over Lloyd’s final two seasons, he was targeted 43 times, including only 18 times in 2023. For some context, those 18 targets ranked 117th among running backs last season.

However, with those opportunities, Lloyd was incredibly efficient. He would catch 13 of those passes and averaged a whopping 17.8 yards per catch–an amount that turns your head if you’re talking about receivers, let alone a running back. Lloyd led all running backs in yards per catch in 2023 and average YAC per reception.

“He definitely can be a weapon out of the backfield,” said Matt LaFleur. “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.”

When discussing Lloyd’s game, whether it be GM Brian Gutekunst or LaFleur, both have mentioned the speed that he brings to the Packers’ offense. That aspect of Lloyd’s skill set shows up in the aforementioned passing game numbers with his ability to work in space, but we also saw it on full display on the practice field on Tuesday.

During one particular play in 11-on-11s, there wasn’t a ton of room for Lloyd to operate as he ran between the tackles. But utilizing jump cuts and cutting on a dime, we saw his elusiveness and ability to change direction, followed by that burst of his as he turned upfield and pulled away from defenders.

Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich has said that he wants Lloyd on the field as much as possible this season. As LaFleur said, he brings a different element to that running back room, which we saw in the described play above.

However, as is the case for any rookie, there is a learning curve that Lloyd is navigating. This includes learning a new playbook, acclimating to the speed of the NFL game, along with being able to handle the additional responsibilities that come with playing running back for the Packers, specifically pass catching and pass blocking.

But helping Lloyd through this transition is an experienced running back room. Lloyd mentioned at his locker that both Josh Jacobs and AJ Dillon have been very supportive and incredibly helpful, giving him advice and answering his questions.

“Oh it’s been amazing,” said Lloyd, “because like you said, AJ knows everything. He knows the whole playbook, he helps me and Josh. So if we need something, we’ll go to AJ.

“AJ’s just so supportive. He’s a massive human being. He helps us throughout everything. If I do something good on the field, he’ll let me know I do something good. If something was like ehh, he’ll let me know. It’s good to have AJ. A guy like AJ to be able to help me throughout this whole time.”

With offseason programs wrapping up on Wednesday, LaFleur said that the Packers have gone through all of their installs at this point. When Lloyd and the other rookies arrive back for training camp, that will be the second and third time that they are able to go through those installs, which will be beneficial and an opportunity to showcase the growth that has taken place.