Packers Camp Insider: Josh Jackson makes most of slot opportunity

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers defensive back Josh Jackson (37) during Green Bay Packers minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

Tuesday's takeaways

» Training camp injuries always create opportunities, but they don’t always result in lineup changes. Rookie cornerback Josh Jackson has had to play second fiddle to first-round pick Jaire Alexander throughout camp, but Alexander has missed practice this week with a groin pull and that has put Jackson in a prominent position. Jackson was elevated to the No. 1 slot position Monday and Tuesday and tried his best to take advantage of the snaps. He estimated he played only 40 or 50 snaps in the slot at Iowa last year, so he’s learning a lot about the position. “I like playing the slot,” said Jackson, who at 6 feet, 196 pounds is tall for the position. “It’s good that you get to be there close in the box defending the pass. It’s a really cool position.” Jackson got to match up three times with receiver Davante Adams in one-on-ones and gave up only one reception. He said he’s learning to play more with his feet than his hands and on all three turns against Adams, he was close in coverage.

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» Conversely, with Jimmy Graham sidelined because of a knee injury, tight end Lance Kendricks did not make the best of his time on the field. Kendricks had two drops during team drills, including one from backup DeShone Kizer that could have been a big play. Kendricks is a try-hard guy and he plays all over the field, but drops have been his weakness. It’s not a guarantee that Kendricks will be on the roster because Graham and Marcedes Lewis are practically locks and one of the young tight ends such as Emanuel Byrd and Robert Tonyan may be kept around for development purposes. The 6-5, 237-pound Tonyan is an interesting prospect. He’s light and more like Graham than Lewis, but he has made some impressive catches over smaller defensive backs. Coach Mike McCarthy loves tight ends, but with the number of receivers competing for spots, he might have to limit how many he keeps.

» It’s no longer accurate to call Quinten Rollins a cornerback. He’s more than that. Of late, he has been lining up as a true safety, which is a completely new position for him. Early in camp, Rollins — who is coming off a torn Achilles — was working strictly as a dime linebacker similar to what Morgan Burnett played. Then he added slot corner to his position. Now, he’s adding safety to his resume. After the draft and the addition of Alexander and Jackson, it looked like Rollins was going to have a tough time making the team. Now his versatility is starting to work in his favor. His coverage ability is still going to be the determining factor in whether he makes the team and the preseason will say a lot about how much the injury has affected him.

» Rookie wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown got off to a slow start in camp and fell behind others like Jake Kumerow, J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but the past three practices he has started to come on. Passing coordinator Jim Hosteler said St. Brown got off to a slow start in OTAs as well and the coaches have been looking for his performance to even out. The last couple of days, he has started to make enough plays to get some snaps with the No. 1 offense. During practice Tuesday, he ran some very tight out routes and caught a pair of first-down catches from Aaron Rodgers during one team drill.

QB watch

Backup quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Kizer are going to get a lot of snaps against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. “I think you’ll see both quarterbacks go out there and run the offense,” quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti said. Though Cignetti has said both have made big gains during training camp, the number of big plays made are minimal from the two backups. The one that makes more during the games is going to have a huge advantage. Rodgers was picked off again — his eighth of camp — and cornerback Davon House probably would have returned the flat pass all the way for a touchdown. Rodgers also had an interception while running the scout team against the defense.

Bits and pieces

» The biggest area of improvement guard Justin McCray has made is in his pass blocking. It was evident in a one-on-one pass rush drill when he sank his hips and refused to be pushed back into the quarterback against rookie Conor Sheehy.

» Tonyan jumped high over safety Jermaine Whitehead for a touchdown. The ball from Tim Boyle was slightly underthrown but Tonyan reached up with both hands and snatched it away from Whitehead.

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» Running back Jamaal Williams got absolutely stuffed at the 2-yard line during a short-yardage run.

» In four attempts from the 12-yard line during the two-minute drill, Rodgers missed on each pass. He was forced to throw the final one away.

Injury report

» Graham (knee) and defensive tackle Mo Wilkerson (groin) were added to the list of players who did not practice. Graham banged his knee Monday when brought to the ground by safety Josh Jones, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.

» Others who missed practice because of injury were WR Trevor Davis (hamstring), WR Randall Cobb (ankle), Alexander (groin), OT David Bakhtiari (ankle), CB Kevin King (shoulder), RB Devante Mays (hamstring), RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), DT Mike Daniels (thigh) and FB Joe Kerridge (shoulder).

» S Kentrell Brice (ankle) was in pads and taking part in team drills after only taking part in a few drills before leaving practice Monday.

Quote of the day

"I'll probably spend the first game down on the sideline. Whether I'll stay there for the next two or three, we'll see. I've always enjoyed watching the game from the top. You can see so much more. But I do think this first one with the young players that we have I'd like to see them interact with our coaches and the stress of the moment." — GM Brian Gutekunst on where he would watch the preseason opener Thursday.

Practice schedule

The Packers won't practice Wednesday, the day before their first exhibition game against Tennessee. Their next practice will be at 12:15 p.m. Sunday.


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