Training Camp and Preseason
Using Aaron Rodgers’ phrasing, this season is truly gonna be a “beautiful mystery.” Nobody really knows what is going to happen. Well, except me. I’m going to be looking ahead and taking a way-too-early look into the Green Bay Packers upcoming season. This isn’t going to be just predicting the games, but also the nuances and stories that will exist for the Packers in 2023. Welcome to Nostra-Damon: Peering Into The Packers Future Part One.
The Green Bay Packers rookies arrived to training camp on July 22nd. This is a few days before the veterans so the rookies can begin to get acclimated to camp. However, a couple of the rookies did arrive a few days early. Anthony Johnson Jr., a safety drafted in the seventh round, was forced to arrive a few days early by Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler.
You see, LeRoy Butler, being very enthusiastic about the huge upside of Anthony Johnson as a safety, decided he would take him under his wing. Anthony Johnson also just so happens to wear the same number that LeRoy Butler did. Butler, wanting his number-sake to represent “36” well, forced Johnson to arrive to Green Bay early to get some extra practice reps. But these weren’t your traditional practice reps.
It was nothing but Lambeau Leaps.
The other rookie to arrive early was Tucker Kraft. Tucker Kraft, not having played a down of NFL football, already signed a paid sponsorship with The Kraft Heinz Company. Tucker Kraft arrived early to shoot a local commercial for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Everyone thought it was kinda weird when Tucker Kraft began answering interview questions with old Kraft Food slogans interjected throughout.
At one point, Mike Spofford asked Tucker Kraft what he does to celebrate a first down catch, and without even hesitating Tucker pointed to his flexed bicep and said “Unleash the Cheese!” Of course, this was just another slogan for Kraft’s Velveeta cheese.
Packers Shareholder Meeting July 25th
The Packers Shareholder Meeting went off without a hitch! Mark Murphy shared great news about the future of the Green Bay Packers and received a ton of cheers when he discussed the Packers hosting the 2025 NFL Draft. There was also some other business to be taken care of during the Shareholder Meeting. There were some new board members to be elected.
LeRoy Butler wasn’t just in Green Bay to help Anthony Johnson Jr. with his Lambeau Leaps. He was also there because he was nominated to join The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors. Butler is the fourth ever former player to be nominated and elected to the board.
The voting delegates were so enthusiastic about LeRoy Butler being a part of the Board of Directors that they went ahead and elected him as the heir apparent to Packers President Mark Murphy. Murphy will retire in two years when he turns 70.
Training Camp Cont.
The rest of the players began arriving on July 26th with much excitement and not much news. The first practice took place at Ray Nitschke Field on July 27th. Jordan Love, much like how OTA’s went, had a slow start but began to heat up in team drills. He finished the first two-minute drill with an electric touchdown pass right up the seam when he hit Luke Musgrave in stride in the middle of the field.
The next drive wasn’t so great for the offense. Love was picked off by Lucas Van Ness, who swatted the ball into the air. He then caught the ball just before the ball hit the ground and ran it back for a pick six. This type of up and down play for the offense continued throughout camp.
Nobody really knew at the time whether or not the offense was bad or if the defense was good. Well, outside of me anyway.
The training camp darlings were Colby Wooden and Samori Toure.
Lucas Van Ness had an amazing camp, which is to be expected out of the first round pick, but Colby Wooden turned heads with his explosiveness. He even beat David Bahktiari a couple of times in practice.
David Bahktiari practiced a ton more during this training camp than he had in the last several. Bahktiari is seemingly over the worst of his knee injury he sustained on New Year’s Eve 2020.
The other camp darling was Samori Toure, who was very crisp with his route running and made great hands catches. He made these consistently near the sideline with some Jordy Nelson-esqe toe-drag swag.
The preseason games went about like one would expect from a Matt LaFleur-led team, though the starters finally got a lot more reps than they had in prior seasons. Jordan Love looked great against the vanilla defenses of the Bengals, Patriots, and the Seahawks. And the Packers defense looked great also. And yet somehow, some way, the Packers still found a way to lose all three preseason games. Packers Twitter was in an all-out war between the optimists and the pessimists.
So much name calling.
The Packers also had the privilege of having joint practices with the Patriots and Bengals. The Packers and the Patriots had a couple of joint practices together but most of the cameras weren’t facing the players. Rather, they were facing Coach Bill Belichick of the Patriots who was constantly around Coach Matt LaFleur.
Belichick, with a journal and pen, never stopped writing while conversing with LaFleur. Everyone now knew why the Patriots were so enthusiastic about having joint practices with the Packers.
The Packers defense continued to look good against the Patriots offense but that also isn’t saying much.
Preseason ended on August 26th against the Seattle Seahawks. Jordan Love, heading into the regular season, looked ready to take on the world. He will be the third different quarterback to start an opening day game for the Packers since 1992.
Ready or not, the Packers were going to have to play an NFL regular season game in two weeks. Nobody knew what was going to happen next.
Well, everyone except me.——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.