The Green Bay Packers held voluntary OTAs this week with most of the players on the team’s 90-man roster taking part in drills and other activities.
This is the first time the veterans and rookies are together working out and preparing for the 2022 NFL season.
Here is a look at five key takeaways from this week’s OTAs in Green Bay:
- Who Wasn’t There
This week, 75 of the 90 players on the Packers roster were present for voluntary OTAs this week. Obviously, the biggest name not present was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His absence gave former first-round pick Jordan Love a chance to get more reps with the first team. Rodgers’ absence was expected but still a disappointment although both the players and the coaching staff tried to downplay it.
Other players who not at voluntary OTAs included cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard (who remains unsigned), linebackers Randy Ramsey, Jonathan Garvin, Rashan Gary and Preston Smith and veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis.
- Rich Bisaccia Looks to Change the Culture of Special Teams
One encouraging sign has been the way new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has been looking to change the team’s culture surrounding the Packers special teams.
In addition to tough love on the field, Bisaccia has been having punt and kick returners catch tennis balls, has been running different drills and even had starters like De’Vondre Campbell, Adrian Amos and Aaron Jones take part in special teams drills which are being conducted without pads.
He is also referring to special teams as “we-fense” to create more camaraderie and to give the unit more of an equal status with the offense and defense.
Of course, since all of this is preliminary and without pads, it’s tough to know how this will all play out once the season starts, but make no doubt, Bisaccia is clearly trying to change the culture surrounding this unit that has hurt the Packers for many years.
- Christian Watson’s Attitude
It’s very difficult to assess the progress of rookies when drills are being done without pads and contact. For second-round pick Christian Watson and the rest of the rookie receivers, they are also not playing with Aaron Rodgers as Jordan Love has been running the top offense.
But what we can see about Watson thus far is his attitude and how he’s approaching his new job. He is has showed that he has the skills and tools necessary to play wide receiver in the NFL and is eager to learn from veterans like Randall Cobb who has praised Watson thus far.
In many ways, Watson’s attitude and willingness to learn reminds me of Eric Stokes’ approach last year which Stokes was able to turn into a productive rookie campaign.
- Defense Changes
The Packers defense is going to look different this season with the addition of first round picks Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is expected to use fewer three safety alignments and more formations that utilize two inside linebackers with Campbell and Walker getting the starting jobs at those two positions.
Thus far in drills, we have also seen Kenny Clark moving around and lining up in different positions along the defensive line besides just having him on the nose.
We have also heard from the coaching staff that the Packers are likely to have four players get reps at the star defensive back position which primarily covers receivers who line up in the slot. Those four include cornerbacks Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas and safety Darnell Savage.
We know the defense will look different in Barry’s second season as coordinator and that vision has started to take shape at OTAs.
- The Rehab Group
There are players who attended voluntary OTAs but did not participate in drills with their teammates. They were off to the side doing rehab work to help recover from their injuries.
Players participating in rehab activities included offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, running back Kylin Hill, tight end Robert Tonyan and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari. Dean Lowry was also present but didn’t participate in drills although no reason was given for this.
We will check in with the progress of these players at the next series of OTAs.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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