The rain fell hard at times but that didn’t put a damper on the Packers Family Night event on Saturday at Lambeau Field. After not having fans in the stands over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the players and fans alike were thrilled to have more than 34,000 in attendance at this event.
Here is a look at 10 takeaways from Family Night and some players who made a positive impression on the field:
- No New Injuries
Despite the rain, the Packers were fortunate to report no new injuries after the scrimmage. Every NFL team wants to avoid injuries and for the Packers to escape the evening without any significant injuries was a definite positive for the team as they prepare to start preseason play.
The following players did not play because of injuries suffered prior to Family Night: TE Josiah Deguara, WR Juwann Winfree, DL Kenny Clark, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, LB Randy Ramsey, WR Chris Blair and LB Kamal Martin.
- CB Kabion Ento
Ento has been playing well during training camp and he continued that improved level of play during Family Night. He broke up at least two passes and showed ability in coverage.
Ento has long odds to overcome to make the roster. He is a converted wide receiver who switched to cornerback. Then, he missed all of the 2020 season due to a foot injury.
The coaching staff likes Ento’s size (6’1”) and he clearly has an instinct for the ball. There is plenty of competition at cornerback as it is a position the Packers have some depth at, but Ento made an impression at Family Night.
- QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers continues to appear to be on top of his game. It looks like the 2020 NFL MVP is ready to pick up where he left off last season.
Rodgers again threw the ball into a net from 40 or 50 yards away and he repeated that feat twice. He did it earlier this week in practice as well.
While it may not be a big surprise that Rodgers appears to be ready to play, it is certainly encouraging news for Packers fans.
- QB Jordan Love
As expected, Love had his moments that impressed and his moments that showed how much more he has to learn. The most encouraging sign was watching the second-year quarterback go through his progressions on a few throws which shows that he is getting more comfortable in the offense and things are becoming more familiar to him.
Obviously, it will take more reps and some more time for all of this to become second nature for the former Utah State star, but progress is being made.
Love’s best throw went deep over the middle to wide receiver Devin Funchess. He also threw a long pass to Reggie Begelton that was impressive but Begelton couldn’t hold onto the wet football and the result was an incomplete pass.
- WR Devin Funchess
Funchess is in a tough fight for a roster spot as the Packers have more good receivers than they can afford to keep. Funchess made the deep catch on a deep out from Love that stood out and had a strong overall performance. On another play, Funchess made a good catch on a pass by Rodgers on a stop route. He had three catches overall and played a strong game.
The big challenge facing Funchess is getting back to football shape after playing only one game in 2019 due to a broken collarbone and then sitting out all of 2020 because of family concerns due to the pandemic.
Funchess is now working to pick up the team’s offense and trying to earn a roster spot. He made a good first impression at Family Night, although he had to issue an apology for using a racist term against Asians during his postgame press conference.
- Defense Ahead of the Offense During the 2:00 Drill
It’s difficult to make too many judgments based on a scrimmage where the Packers are facing themselves, but the defense got the job done tonight and looked to be ahead of the offense.
The defense prevented Rodgers and the first team offense from scoring on the two-minute drill as the drive stalled at the 15-yard line when a fourth-down pass into the end zone intended for Davante Adams fell incomplete.
After the offense crossed midfield, the defense didn’t allow any long gains and the offense had to make short passes to try to move the ball. Ultimately, they fell short of the end zone.
- CB Chandon Sullivan
Sullivan has been designated the Packers “star” cornerback in Joe Barry’s defense. Sullivan had another solid performance at Family Night. He had strong coverage on at least three different plays. Sullivan covered Randall Cobb on one play, Allen Lazard on another and Davante Adams on the third. That’s three receivers with different skill sets and body types and he handled them all well.
He appears to be ready to be the primary “star” defender and to return to the fine form he showed in 2019 as the dime back.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan continues to get open and make catches when given the opportunity. It was Tonyan’s grab that got the first string offense’s two-minute drill off to a good start. Tonyan made a diving catch on the play that was good for more than 20 yards.
He also picked up a key first down on a bootleg, one of the Packers favorite plays that works so often for the offense.
Tonyan is playing on a one-year deal so he has every incentive to have a big season.
- CB Jaire Alexander
Alexander is one of the best cover corners in the NFL and he had another strong performance at Family Night. The Pro Bowler broke up two passes on the day, one over the middle that was intended for Lazard and the second was a sideline pattern intended for Adams.
Ja’Money looks ready to start the 2021 season.
- WR DeAndre Thompkins
Thompkins is a longshot to make the Packers roster with the crowd they have at wide receiver, but he had his moments on Saturday.
First, on special teams, Thompkins made a diving stop to down a punt inside the five-yard line. Had it not been for Thompkins’ effort, the ball would have rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
Making key contributions on special teams certainly helps boost Thompkins chances of earning a spot on either the roster or the practice squad.
He also gained at least 25 yards on an end around which highlighted his speed and running ability.
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