Cornerback Jaire Alexander puts on a show in blanketing Packers' receivers
GREEN BAY – If you want to get the best of Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, you best not make him mad.
Alexander was a vise during one-on-one coverage drills against the wide receivers Monday, refusing to let anyone get around him. It was another sign that Alexander is feeling more confident with the right shoulder he injured last year and looking to make the Packers smart for signing him to a four-year, $84 million contract extension during the offseason.
Alexander blanketed receiver Allen Lazard on a deep ball down the sideline on his first rep and then fell for none of rookie receiver Romeo Doubs’ body fakes on a short stop route, driving on the route and knocking down the intended pass.
On his third rep, Doubs appeared to get the best of him on a route that started with the rookie in the slot. Alexander was a half-step behind Doubs and would have been beaten for a significant gain if the ball hadn’t sailed through Doubs’ hands.
The play irritated Alexander because he felt Doubs pushed off and he let the receiver know about it on the way back to the line of scrimmage. Alexander wasn’t supposed to take another turn, but he kicked out Kabion Ento so he could face veteran Sammy Watkins.
Trying to free himself for a short in-breaking route, Watkins threw his hands up to try to gain leverage with a slight push, but Alexander avoided it, jumped the route and nearly picked the pass off.
“I honestly tried (to be physical), but he was smart, he kept backing up giving me space,” Watkins said. “And that was a rep where I should have used my intelligence, like, “Hey, man, I know that he's got good feet, let me get in tune and then push off.’ And then come inside rather than trying to play with him.
“Ja’s one of the elite corners, we can't sit there and jog around a lot. We’ve got to get up on them, go, and get into your route.”
Watkins getting more comfortable in Packers' offense
Even though Watkins couldn’t beat Alexander and dropped a pass during a one-on-one with cornerback Eric Stokes, the veteran free agent said things are starting to fall in place for him.
He said he’s in better shape than he was a year ago at this time.
“I think it’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” Watkins said. “just to be able to go out there and run and do whatever I tell my body to do.”
Watkins, who wasn’t sure he would get signed this off-season after another injury-filled year, said he’s bouncing back from practices better than he used to thanks to better conditioning and a better diet. There is still a long way to go for him to show he can be a productive, healthy receiver, but he likes the fact that he can compete freely every day.
“I'm not as sore as I used to be,” he said. “I can go out there each day and stack on good days. I think I’ve been consistent. In my previous years, I'm able to go two days and the third day I look like crap. And the fourth day, I look like crap.
“And I can say these last two weeks, I've been stacking good days. And each day I just get better and better and better. I’m definitely more engaged and more in tune with everything I’m doing this year.”
LaFleur still mulling whether Rodgers plays in preseason
Jordan Love will start the Packers' preseason opener Friday night at San Francisco. Whether he'll be the starter in all three of the team's preseason tuneups remains to be seen.
Coach Matt LaFleur said he has not yet decided whether Aaron Rodgers will get preseason snaps this month. Rodgers hasn't gotten a preseason snap since 2018, the year before LaFleur was hired. The Packers memorably laid a dud in last season's opener against the New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville, though it didn't prevent them from securing the NFC's top overall seed.
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LaFleur indicated he doesn't expect Rodgers to play in the Packers' second preseason game against the Saints next week at Lambeau Field, though he wouldn't eliminate the possibility of him taking snaps with the starting offense in their preseason finale at Kansas City. He said the Packers' inconsistent offensive line wouldn't affect his decision for the preseason.
"We still have confidence in those guys," LaFleur said. "Those guys are going to have to play, and we just would be very particular about which plays we're calling. We're not going to have just open edges and seven-step drops that take a lot of time to develop. We'll just be super-intentional about what we call, which we are in every instance usually anyways."
Rain reigns during practice
The weather in Green Bay was rainy and wet yet again Monday, but LaFleur elected to keep his team outside. The previous rainy days, the Packers had moved practice inside. However both of those days were light practices. For Monday's full-go practice, LaFleur told his guys to be ready and safe for the slick field, as they had to get accustomed eventually to the elements.
"I told the guys, make sure they've got the right cleats. We've got to get used to practicing in less-than-ideal weather. So, you know, it'll be good experience for everybody," LaFleur said.