Packers Camp Insider: Plenty of benefits in benching Aaron Rodgers

Pete Dougherty
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) watches during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Monday, August 20, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

Monday's takeaways

It’s looking like Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing this week at Oakland in a departure from the Packers’ usual approach to preseason Week 3. Coach Mike McCarthy generally uses the third game to get his longest look at his starters — last year Rodgers played two series in Week 3 after playing in only one in Week 2 and none in Week 1. But based on practice Monday, when Rodgers didn’t get any work against the scout team, it appears the quarterback is getting game night off in Oakland on Friday. There could be a number of reasons for McCarthy to hold him out, but the field at Oakland Alameda Coliseum might rank at the top of the list. The Coliseum also is home to the Oakland Athletics, and during the baseball season the dirt infield is exposed for Raiders games. McCarthy likely has big concerns about Rodgers and other key starters injuring their knees or feet because of the dirt or seams where the grass and dirt meet. Outside linebacker Nick Perry mentioned that as a reason he might not play in his first full week back from PUP. Rodgers also has had more snaps than usual in this camp against the starting defense, and his series last week against Pittsburgh ended with a touchdown pass to new tight end Jimmy Graham, the player McCarthy probably is most concerned about getting enough work in with his quarterback. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting your team trained,” McCarthy said. “I feel really good about our on-the-field work, the rise of 15 or 17, whatever it is, percent more reps of the (starters) versus (starters) this year. I feel like we’re hitting the target there.” Not playing Rodgers and some other key starters also would give McCarthy the chance to see some of his backups playing against Oakland’s starters in the first half. “The one part that you always have to try to get,” McCarthy said, “especially in this era of CBA football, is enough information that you want to make the right decisions as far as your roster.”

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» J’Mon Moore’s rough stretch continued in practice Monday. The fourth-round draft pick had several drops in the two preseason games, including a deep ball in each that almost surely would have been long touchdowns. Monday in practice, he had a couple more plays that made for a bad day. On one, he slipped making his cut on an out pattern, and the pass was intercepted by cornerback Donatello Brown. And in a team drill earlier in practice, he had a ball pop through his hands on an out pattern just as Brown reached in to disrupt him. “Today was a bad one for me,” Moore said. “It was part of me being in my little drought right now. I’ve just got to get out of it, got to get over it. I don’t know what it is. But I’ll make it work. I’ll be all right.”

QB watch

DeShone Kizer has improved the most of the three backup quarterbacks since the start of training camp and might be creating just a little daylight between him and Brett Hundley for the backup job behind Rodgers. On Monday he zipped a pass down the middle for a completion to tight end Marcedes Lewis and on another showed his lively arm on a crossing route to Lance Kendricks. But Kizer also threw the interception when Moore slipped, and while the interception wasn’t his fault, he did stare down Moore on the play.

Bits and pieces

» Rookie punter JK Scott has been working to speed up his delivery the last few weeks of camp. Scott had been getting off his punts in about 1.35 seconds from the time the snap touched his hands until his foot struck the ball, but special teams coach Ron Zook wants to reduce that to about 1.25 seconds. In a live drill Monday, Scott hit punts of 46, 49, 65 and 45 yards with good hang times. The 65-yarder hit at the 5-yard line and bounced into the end zone on one hop. Even though it was a touchback, it would have been a 70-yard punt with a 50-yard net.

On two pooch punts from the 50, Scott had one punt caught on the fly and downed by gunner Josh Jones at the 2, and another fair caught at the 9.

“Everybody thinks everything is switching (to punting worse) in the game,” Scott said, “but that’s not really the case. Making an adjustment has caused me to have to force myself to work on my lines. I feel like it’s going pretty good.”

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» Cornerback Kevin King (shoulder), defensive lineman Mike Daniels (thigh), running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) and outside linebacker Perry (ankle) took part in team drills Monday after doing only individual work last week. King and Daniels received some snaps with the No. 1 defense, while Jones and Perry worked only scout team.

» General manager Brian Gutekunt’s dad, former University of Minnesota coach John Gutekunst, was at practice Monday.

Injury update

New injuries: G Justin McCray (calf), RB Jamaal Williams (ankle) and WR Jake Kumerow (shoulder) didn’t practice. CB  Davon House (hamstring) dropped out after individual drills.

Still out: WR Trevor Davis (hamstring), RB Devante Mays (hamstring)

Returned: S Jermaine Whitehead (back)

Quote of the day

“I guess I’m going to start kicking now, out of them piles. There’s nothing you can really do about it, just keep your legs moving, just keep’em off your legs. It’s just a life lesson.” – Williams on the ankle injury he sustained last week when Steelers linebacker Vince Williams twisted the Packers running back’s foot after tackling him.

Practice schedule

The Packers practice at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, open to the public.

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