Davante Adams' spill puts scare in Packers before he returns to practice field
GREEN BAY – Davante Adams laid on his back for a moment as Adrian Amos raced up field after intercepting Aaron Rodgers on a deep ball in 11-on-11 work at Green Bay Packers’ practice Wednesday afternoon.
Adams would get up and gingerly walk off the field under the supervision of the Packers training staff, leaving the second day of the team’s padded work for a portion before returning later for a walkthrough.
“Yeah, I think any time whether it’s Davante, or any other player, you know, you see a guy go down and certainly it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “But at the same time, you said it best, the show’s going to go on and it’s a next-man up mentality. And fortunately for us, he’s going to be just fine.”
A day after defensive tackle Montravius Adams was carted off Ray Nitschke Field with what NFL media reported as a toe injury, the Packers concluded Wednesday’s practice without anyone else noticeably missing time due to injury.
Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith did not participate outside with the team Wednesday, making the second straight day the Pro Bowler did not work in pads. Tight end Marcedes Lewis also did not participate in the session.
“Yeah, they're just, want to be smart with these guys,” LaFleur said. “Especially a guy like ‘Cedes. We gave him some veteran days last year and we’re going to continue to do the same throughout camp and just want to make sure he’s ready for week one.”
Team cuts two, Roberts to PUP
Undrafted free agent offensive lineman Travis Bruffy and recently claimed wide receiver Travis Fulgham were released before practice Wednesday, reducing the active roster to 78 players. That allowed the team to take long snapper Hunter Bradley off the reserve/COVID-19 list and practice for the first time.
It also allowed the team to activate linebacker Greg Roberts off the reserve/COVID-19 list, but they immediately put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He had been working his way through the COVID-19 protocol by being on the field the past two days.
Roberts counts toward the active roster while on PUP. The second-year player spent all of last season on PUP after suffering a core muscle injury, but he began practicing in December. The team did not activate him then, so he reverted to the season-ending injured reserve list.
The Packers claimed Fulgham on Aug. 10 on waivers from Detroit and was on the field Aug. 15 after passing COVID-19 protocols. Bruffy was a rookie out of Texas A&M who had played left tackle for the Red Raiders in 2019.
The Packers now have no players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Amos making splash plays
When the Packers signed Amos to a four-year, $36 million deal last offseason, one criticism of the veteran safety from his time in Chicago was his lack of interceptions. In his 60 career games in Chicago, he intercepted three passes.
But last year, Amos equaled a career high with two picks (including one to seal the Packers’ Week 1 victory over his former team) and he’s been a ballhawk through the first four days of training camp with two picks off Aaron Rodgers.
“I feel as though just coming into the year, just want to get your hands on the ball, take advantage of every opportunity I get with making plays on the ball,” the sixth-year safety said. “Getting the ball wins games. That’s just as important as being in the right spot and making all your plays. I think those interceptions and forced fumbles and things will come with playing hard and being in the right place at the right time and capitalizing on every little opportunity.”
Lowry looks for pass rush
A highlight of padded practices are the one-on-one matchups across the board, but most notably when the offensive and defensive linemen put helmets and shoulders on one another in full-speed contact. Defensive lineman Dean Lowry drew second-year left guard Elgton Jenkins on Wednesday, and it was the fifth-year veteran out of Northwestern who got the best of the matchup in both reps.
“I would say first day of pads it’s almost always a physical rush, whether it’s a bull rush or a long arm or whatever it is, it’s almost like an unwritten rule that your first rush on the first day of pads is going to be a power rush,” Lowry said.
But whether he’s using straight power moves or working in counter attacks or setting up a rush plays in advance, the 26-year-old recognized the next step to take in his career is one that lands him on the opposing quarterback more often. He did not record a sack in 2019 after getting seven in his first three years.
“I’ve always done a good job of getting inside pocket presence and push, getting my hands up in the passing lanes,” said Lowry, who signed a three-year, $22 million extension before last season. “But a big focus now is really getting off those pass-rush blocks and finishing at the quarterback.”
Packers move inside Lambeau
The club will move onto the turf inside an empty Lambeau Field for Thursday’s practice, largely so players can get used to the idea of having to communicate with one another without the roar of tens of thousands of fans both home and away. It will be the first of three practices in the stadium.
LaFleur said the league is going to provide teams with some ambient sound to assist in preparing teams, though as of Wednesday afternoon he indicated the team had not received it yet.
“It’s going to be a typical practice,” LaFleur said of the session in Lambeau Field. “Just want to put ‘em in the environment that these guys are going to have to get accustomed to pretty quickly here in a few weeks in terms with playing with no fans. So, thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Live tackling up in the air
Perhaps the biggest balance LaFleur and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst must strike in this condensed training camp with no preseason games is how often they should have live tackling in practice. It not only helps get players ready for the season, but performing under such game-like circumstances likely will play into a final roster evaluation for players without much experience.
“That’s kind of a wait-and-see approach,” LaFleur said. “I do think that we have to incorporate some of that being that we’re not going to have preseason games. It’s going to be definitely something that we’re going to put our younger guys through probably more so than our veteran players that have had, you know, a bunch of games under their belt.”
That said, even a veteran like Lowry said it would be a good idea to get that kind of work in.
“It’s always good to get those live reps in preseason,” he said. “We do at the start of practice get different tackling circuits going. We’ll do drills where we shed a blocker and make a play and work on our hips and staying low on the ball-carrier, but it’s tough not getting those live reps. We’ll see what happens with these scrimmages or these team reps. I think it would help to get some live reps tackling for our first game.”
What complicates this balancing act is the fact that teams had the number of padded practices reduced from 16 to 14 anyway, and then with the Packers extending their ramp-up period by a few days, it reduced their window anyway.
“I think it’s going to be pretty tough to get to that 14 practices before week one,” LaFleur said. “Some of the days will be like (Wednesday) was, where we’ll start off in our uppers, which is our shoulder pads and helmets, and then when we get about halfway through practice, we’ll dump the shoulder pads off and it’ll be more of a jog-through type tempo.
“I always get a little bit nervous when we’re practicing four days in a row. We know that in order to be at our best, we’re going to have to be healthy. We always want to take care of our guys. That’s something we’ll incorporate to make it a little bit more of a mental approach to the practice, and we’ll continue to do so throughout the duration of training camp.”