Just over six months after their season ended at Lambeau Field in heartbreak, Packers training camp officially kicked off Wednesday afternoon. And with Aaron Rodgers still at the helm, Super Bowl expectations abound. This comes despite the very noted departure of Davante Adams. Now, one day of practice in shorts and T-shirts is not going to quell any concerns about the roster. But the wide receivers in particular did their best to make a statement on day 1.
With Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson both out due to injury, it was Allen Lazard, Romeo Doubs, and Juwann Winfree getting the bulk of the work. And all three of them had splash plays in team periods. All have something to prove, manning a position group that has been maligned all offseason.
GM Brian Gutekunst also had encouraging remarks before practice for both missing WRs, saying neither should expect to miss much time. It will be important for both of them to make swift returns. This is espeically true given Matt LaFleur’s approach of limiting live reps during the preseason for his starters, Rodgers in particular.
Wednesday also gave seemingly good news for both injured starters along the offensive line. David Bakhtiari spoke at his locker, and said that he feels normal for the first time since his knee injury. He revealed that he had a third procedure before OTAs, which explains his placement on the PUP list. Gutekunst would not promise Week 1 availability for Bakhtiari, as they continue their long-term focus. The same is true with Elgton Jenkins. Jenkins looked good performing drills with the rehab group at practice, and Gutekunst said he is “ahead of schedule” with his recovery.
This should be music to the ears of Packers fans, especially given the uncertainty along the offensive line without their top two guys. At Wednesday’s practice, the right side of the offensive line with the first team consisted of Jake Hanson at guard and Royce Newman at tackle. They will likely rotate Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom into the mix on the right side. Though both started at left tackle their final year of college, both took reps at guard during OTAs. And Rhyan continued to get reps at right guard with the second unit Wednesday.
With real football finally back, it’s easy to overreact to every update coming out of camp. There will be a lot to sort out over the next month, but the first practice showed – there’s still a lot to love about the Packers in 2022.
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.