» Adam Pankey is making his bid not just to make the roster for the second straight season but perhaps gain a foothold as the utility man of the offensive line. The second-year pro has been working in camp at every position but center and made a little jump up the depth chart Sunday when he filled in at left guard for Lane Taylor with the starting offense. Lucas Patrick had been working as Taylor’s backup the first two weeks of camp. Taylor’s health doesn’t appear to be a big concern – he has been getting regular rest in camp after undergoing ankle surgery in the offseason, sat out the preseason opener last Thursday and took part only in individual drills in practice Sunday because of an apparent minor injury. But working Pankey ahead of Patrick is a sign the Packers like the way the second-year pro has performed in his multiple roles. Last year as an undrafted rookie Pankey made their practice squad for Week 1, then was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final 15 weeks, though he suited up for only five games and didn’t play a snap from scrimmage. “I really saw a difference when (Pankey) came back for camp,” Taylor said. “He was more confident and ready. I saw more an attack mentality than just a young guy.” For now the Packers’ backup positions on the offensive line are fluid – for instance, both Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs have played exclusively at tackle this camp, but both played some guard earlier in their careers and could move there again. Still, Pankey’s ability to play both guard spots and also fill in at tackle gives him at least the chance to be this year’s Justin McCray – a guy who can fill in almost anywhere on game day. “I do kind of pride myself in being able to do that,” Pankey said.
» The Packers this week have switched into regular-season, game-planning mode in practice, though it’s still not clear if Aaron Rodgers is going to play Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rodgers took regular snaps with the No. 1 offense against the scout-team defense, but there’s no knowing for sure whether he was preparing for the Steelers or for the regular-season opener against Chicago. Coach Mike McCarthy always mixes into training some early work on the regular-season opener, though it’s impossible to tell from watching practice when he’s doing it. Last year Rodgers played three series total in the preseason – one in the second game and two in the third – and McCarthy very well might want to get him at least as much work this year after making some substantial changes to the playbook. But there’s always the chance he doesn’t want to expose Rodgers to injury this week, and that Rodgers was working on Chicago in practice Sunday while the rest of the quarterbacks were getting ready for the Steelers.
DeShone Kizer had one of his better practices, at least as far as hitting on big plays. He had two while working on the scout team. One was on a big gainer on a seam route to wide receiver Kyle Lewis, who beat linebacker Marcus Porter in a mismatch. The other was when Kizer put a deep ball on the money to Davante Adams, who beat cornerback Josh Hawkins down the sideline for a long touchdown. Undrafted rookie Tim Boyle also threw a strike on a bomb to Jake Kumerow, who got just behind cornerback Demetrius Goodson and made a one-armed catch before he went to the ground.
Bits and pieces
» Bryan Bulaga continued on his trajectory to be ready to start at right tackle in the regular-season opener after undergoing ACL surgery last year and starting camp on PUP. Last week he took part in individual drills in practice, and then Sunday he took a handful of team reps in camp. The Packers are gradually building his workload to get him ready by the opener. “Feels like it did last year before I got hurt,” Bulaga said. “Probably better than last year because I don’t have a bad ankle sprain (like last year in camp). Probably better than last year I’ll say.”
» Outside linebacker Nick Perry remains on PUP but was doing some football drill work on his own on the sidelines Sunday. He’s coming back from offseason ankle surgery.
The following players returned to practice but didn’t do team drills: RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), defensive lineman Mike Daniels (thigh), CB Kevin King (shoulder), LT David Bakhtiari (ankle)
These players returned and took part in all drills: CB Jaire Alexander, WR AdonisJennings, FB Joe Kerridge, WR Randall Cobb, DL Muhammad Wilkerson (groin), TE Jimmy Graham.
Players who didn’t practice were S Jermaine Whitehead (back), WR Trevor Davis (hamstring), RB Devante Mays (hamstring).
Quote of the day
“My message clearly to the team was all about play style. Maybe I was a little loose with it – our mental errors were off the charts – but we had good play style. We played the game the way I want this team to play. We took a first step there. Hey, Tennessee took the same approach. There was not a lot of scheme. I think both teams lined up just to play, and that’s really good for your young players.” – McCarthy on the Packers’ preseason opener against Tennessee.
The Packers’ practice Monday at 11:45 a.m. is open to the public.