GREEN BAY – The Packers conducted their annual Family Night practice Friday in front of 50,112 fans at Lambeau Field.
Here are five things we learned.
1. The No. 1 defense wasn’t making anything easy, and rookie LB Quay Walker was showing up a lot in that regard.
The Packers’ starting offense made its share of plays in 11-on-11, but it was difficult to find much rhythm because the defense wasn’t giving up much downfield or in the run game.
Inside linebacker and first-round draft pick Quay Walker helped set a tone early by meeting Aaron Jones at the line of scrimmage on an outside running play. Then Walker almost intercepted a pass at the goal line, but Aaron Rodgers threaded a needle to tight end Marcedes Lewis with Walker whizzing by and just missing the ball.
Later, Walker made another nice play in the flat, stretching laterally to cover AJ Dillon on a checkdown throw and staying in a balanced position to not get beat by Dillon’s inside move after the catch. There was no live tackling but Walker clearly would have wrapped up the big running back in open space.
The one stretch Rodgers seemed to get things rolling, with three straight completions to Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Dominique Dafney, the defense rebounded to stop the next two plays. Walker had decent coverage on Amari Rodgers on a shallow cross that was incomplete, and then a deep ball for Lazard didn’t connect.
“One thing that we’ve kind of challenged our defense on is just the consistency with stopping the run, and then I think they’ve done a pretty nice job defending the pass and in particular the deep balls and not giving up a ton of big plays down the field,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said.
“Our front seven can be pretty salty, so I hope they’re making our offense that much better.”
2. The offensive star of the night was rookie WR Samori Toure.
Toure got going early with a nice adjustment and sliding catch on an end-zone fade from Jordan Love during one-on-ones against the defensive backs. Then during 11-on-11 near the goal line, he made another nifty sliding catch in the corner on a pass from Danny Etling.
The big highlight then came on a deep ball from Love, as Toure got behind two defenders and hauled in the pass for a touchdown of 50-plus yards.
“I think he’s got really good body control and body movement,” LaFleur said of Toure. “He’s a smart kid that really works at it.”
Added Lazard: “I definitely made a step up tonight.”
Fellow rookie Romeo Doubs once again made an eye-popping play, as he seems to do every day, this time with a contested catch on a one-on-one deep ball in the end zone against cornerback Kiondre Thomas. Although later in 11-on-11, Doubs showed he’s human, as he just missed corralling a deep ball that appeared to glance off his fingers.
“Really, all the rookies have done an outstanding job in that wide receiver room,” LaFleur said. “They’ve shown a lot of flashes. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next week in San Francisco.”