The first week of camp for the Green Bay Packers is in the books. There was a lot going on through that time. Here are a few observations I’ve made through the first week.
Thank God all that is over right?
The drama is out the door. The Green Bay Packers are back on the practice field. I guess with the situation surrounding Aaron Rodgers, they’re never fully out of the woods, but most of the focus should be on things happening on the field.
The first week of camp is a lot like Opening Day in Major League Baseball. Optimism surrounds all of the teams.
Everyone is looking for who the next big star will be. My colleague Jason Perone affectionately refers to some of those as the “Oneida All-Stars”.
The Packers’ first week of camp is in the books. They’ll have family night this upcoming week. Next week they’ll play an actual game.
Through the first week of camp here are some of my observations.
1.) Aaron Rodgers –
Can’t really get through this week without discussing it, right? I thought his press conference was incredibly entertaining. He was open, thoughtful, and candid with his remarks. That’s about the exact opposite of what I believed would actually happen. I thought Rodgers would blame this all on the media.
Instead, he addressed his feelings head on.
Some of his points were valid. Should Rodgers have a seat at the table for those discussions? In this day in age, I think that’s fair.
That doesn’t mean he always wins in the discussion but involving your star players, for better or worse, is just how business is conducted in the modern era.
There were some points that were nonsense. For example, I don’t believe his comment about his representation not leaking anything to the media.
That’s just how business is conducted. Contract negotiations of this magnitude are never pretty.
His comment about Gutekunst shows there is still some work to be done to salvage this relationship beyond 2021.
Ultimately I think Rodgers is back for a few reasons. None bigger than the fact that he loves his teammates, and he knows this is his best opportunity to win a championship.
The rest? I truly believe they’ll revisit the situation after the season is over.
I do not believe the Packers and Rodgers have already decided this will be his final season in Green Bay.
2.) Receiver room
The other big piece of news this week came in terms of who would be catching passes from the disgruntled quarterback.
Randall Cobb returned to Green Bay on a restructured contract in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
If that’s the opportunity cost to get the league MVP back under center, you do that every single time.
Cobb provides someone who has his mind melded with Rodgers. In addition, he’ll provide mentorship for the team’s third-round pick, Amari Rodgers.
There is no downside to this move. Cobb is a pro. He’ll be an excellent addition to the locker room. He’ll provide depth at a few different positions in Green Bay.
The other big news came from Davante Adams. Adams stated he wasn’t going to accept anything other than being the highest-paid receiver in football.
The Packers and Adams disagree as to what exactly that means. As has been pointed out, the Deandre Hopkins contract is an outlier for the receiver market.
The Packers already acknowledged an outlier contract when they re-signed David Bakhtiari.
The two sides will continue to talk, but the smart money is on the Packers getting a deal done. They simply don’t let players they’ve drafted walk once they have discussed a contract with them.
Gutekunst talked about how important Adams was to the team. They’ll find a common ground at some point, and Adams will be catching passes in green and gold in 2022.
3.) Josh Myers
What more can be said about Myers? What an impressive player he has been through the first week of camp. He’s been the starter since he arrived at offseason workouts.
Now, he’s getting compliments from Aaron Rodgers in post-practice interviews. That’s not a small thing.
I wondered if once camp started whether the Packers would rotate in someone like Jon Runyan Jr, or Lucas Patrick with the first team at center.
They haven’t. That’s Myers’ job, and he looks to be someone that will be a starter for the next decade.
4.) Offensive tackle depth
The NFL is starved for quality offensive line play. To the Packers’ credit, they’ve made a significant investment in that position group under Gutekunst.
Gutekunst has drafted one every year since becoming General Manager. They’ve signed at least one free agent every year as well.
The last two years they’ve drafted six total offensive linemen.
Their latest addition to the team was former Tenessee Titans tackle, Dennis Kelly.
Kelly has a chance to step in and become the team’s starter at right tackle. It’s possible he’s just a swing tackle as well.
Regardless of what happens, we know he can play tackle at a passable level.
That means when healthy, the Packers have four players that can play the position at an average level, at minimum.
David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Dennis Kelly, and Billy Turner have all played that position well.
In a league that has teams without one offensive tackle, the Packers have four.
The interior of their offensive line isn’t in bad shape either.
5.) Rashan Gary
Breakout season is coming. Those that have been around are talking about him like he’s been the best defensive player in camp.
Maybe by the end of the year, he’ll be the best player in the front seven.
Kevin King entered training camp on the NFI list. It’s since been revealed that he has a hamstring injury. That represents a golden opportunity for first-round pick Eric Stokes.
Stokes has had his ups and downs through the first week of camp. That’s going to happen when you’re asked to cover Davante Adams on a daily basis.
Covering Adams now, might make covering Mike Evans a little easier in a potential NFC Championship Game type of situation.
With that said about Stokes, King better find his way back soon, or he could find that he doesn’t have a job to come back to.
7.) Elgton Jenkins
Jenkins’ start to camp at left tackle has been incredible. A seamless transition of sorts. He’s proving that he could be the team’s long term answer at right tackle.
That all remains to be seen.
What we do know is that the Packers are incredibly lucky to have someone like Jenkins on their team. What a feather in the cap of Brian Gutekunst that there is a legitimate debate between Jenkins and Jaire Alexander for his best draft pick.
8.) Kylin Hill
I was skeptical as to whether Hill would make the roster initially. I gave an early edge to Patrick Taylor because of his knowledge base in Matt LaFleur’s offense.
Instead, Taylor is on the PUP list, and Hill is showing some juice in early touches.
Hill is not like to get a lot of touches if he makes the roster. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will take the majority of those.
If Hill can hit a couple of splash plays, he’ll work his way into that rotation.
9.) Amari Rodgers
I know that Randall Cobb is here, but Rodgers is going to get his chances too. He’s made a couple of plays with Aaron Rodgers in camp.
Those small things go a long way toward making plays on the field during the regular season.
Sure, the Packers have a crowded receiver room, but if there’s one thing you can trust it’s Matt LaFleur.
The mad scientist has the ability to get a variety of personnel groupings onto the field and get playmakers the ball in space.
Rodgers will be one of those players.
10.) Robert Tonyan
Tonyan burst onto the scene last year with 11 touchdowns.
One of the money quotes that LaFleur gave during the offseason was that the team wanted to feature Tonyan more in the offense.
A lot of those quotes got lost in the shuffle because of the situation surrounding Aaron Rodgers, but LaFleur was very open about it.
Tonyan has come into camp looking like he’s in the best shape of his life.
He’s going to get more targets in the offense, and is entering a contract year.
It’s possible that Tonyan has an even better season in 2021 than he had in 2020.