Big Changes Happening on August 7, 2019.

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Packers getting acclimated to new schemes, teammates

LaFleur adjusting after injury
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By Morgan Rode sports@newmedia-wi.com


Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Packers rookie offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, center, works on a blocking drill with Billy Turner, left and Corey Linsley during Tuesday’s OTA in Green Bay.

Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Packers running back Jamaal Williams, left, works on a blocking drill with Malcolm Johnson during Tuesday’s OTA in Green Bay.

After an offseason of change, the Green Bay Packers’ organized team activities (OTAs) were a time for the offense to get familiar with the schemes of new head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, while the defense became acquainted with several new additions to the unit.

Tuesday’s OTA at Clarke Hinkle Field in Green Bay, the last open to the media and the public, came with a wrinkle.

After suffering a torn Achilles while playing basketball on May 29, LaFleur had to take in practice from the comfort of a golf cart instead of being able to walk around and be more hands-on like he had been.

The first-time head coach does not believe the injury will affect the team in any way.

“I’ve definitely had to adjust my routine but that’s why you have great assistant coaches,” LaFleur said. “We are all on the same page, we communicate all the time and I kind of let them know what the expectation is and what not. But it throws a little wrench, a little curveball at us right now but I think long term you won’t see any affects.”

The coach noted that he may have to sit in the booth for games in the preseason, but expects to be on the field for the entire regular season.

At multiple points during Tuesday’s OTA, quarterback Aaron Rodgers would walk over to where LaFleur was parked to talk. Rodgers noted how easy the coach was to find in the cart instead of having to scan the mass of bodies on the practice field.

With OTAs ending Thursday and mandatory minicamp around the corner LaFleur said he’s seen, “A lot of good things and there’s still a ton of room for improvement.”

He went on to highlight how he’d like the team to operate better in and out of the huddle and that the offense was not fully installed yet.

LaFleur loves the communication that the revamped defense has shown so far and said they have been challenging the offense.

Rodgers echoed that same thought.

“They are a lot more comfortable,” the quarterback said on the defense being in the second year under Mike Pettine. “Their disguise has gotten better. They have a great quarterback of the defense in Blake Martinez — he really looks comfortable directing the whole thing. And now you are kind of putting it all together with all three levels, really having a lot of depth and talent…”

While no contact is allowed at the OTA practices, teams can still scrimmage.

The defense did a good job of limiting the big plays from the offense, with the top highlight being an interception by linebacker James Crawford that would have been returned for a touchdown.

The offense’s best play came when Rodgers was able to connect with tight end Jimmy Graham on a deep ball.

Individuals across the organization believe Graham is in for a big year in his second year with the team.

“I think Jimmy’s a pro,” LaFleur said. “He’s a perfectionist too and he gets down on himself when he doesn’t do it the right way, and that’s one thing I challenged him — I said, ‘Hey listen, you’re out here learning, mistakes are going to happen. When they happen, everybody is looking at you, you can’t blink.’

“I want him to keep a positive outlook whether he is making a great play or he has to have a learning experience from not doing something quite right, but I’m really excited about him. He brings that veteran presence, especially to that room.”

After OTAs conclude, the Packers will reconvene during mandatory minicamp, which is set to run from June 11-13. Training camp follows, starting July 25.