Sun, 26 Sep 2021

5 things learned at Packers training camp July 29

Packers
31 Jul 2021, 18:12 GMT+10

Aaron Jones cuts sweets out of his diet, Dennis Kelly makes a memorable Packers debut Wes Hodkiewicz

GREEN BAY - The Packers returned to Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday morning for the second practice of training camp.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Aaron Jones got even more serious about his diet this offseason.

There was no letup in the Pro Bowl running back's training regimen on the heels of Aaron Jones signing an extension in March to remain with the Packers.

In fact, Jones took things to another level. In addition to working out with his twin brother, Alvin Jr., at Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, Aaron was more deliberate about his diet.

"I cut out the sweets and replaced it with fruit," Jones said. "It's kind of the same things I've been doing years past, just staying consistent with it really helped and hitting two-a-days sometimes in the gym. I got my brother pushing me, so that definitely helps. Just trying to get to the best version of me."

It worked. After reducing his body-fat percentage, Jones looks visibly leaner through the first two practices of training camp.

The 26-year-old running back rushed for a career-high 1,104 yards with nine touchdowns last season, while adding 47 catches for 355 yards and two receiving scores.

Knowing he won't be catching anyone by surprise as a pass-catcher this season, Jones has been working quite a bit off to the side with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to further his evolution as an offensive playmaker.

"I do think teams will start covering me different," Jones said. "I started to see it towards the middle of the season last year, they started putting corners on me and different things like that instead of the linebackers.

"But me and Coach Hackett, we work every day during the special teams' period. We're out running different things, how to get off the press coverage and those little things. I think he's been instrumental in my growth as a receiver."

2. Dennis Kelly played for Matt LaFleur...and apparently has a good sense of humor.

For a moment, it appeared as though David Bakhtiari had made a miraculous seventh-month recovery from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered on New Year's Eve.

As it turned out, the five-time All-Pro left tackle and new tackle Dennis Kelly were just having fun with everyone.

Kelly, who officially signed with the Packers on Thursday, wore Bakhtiari's No. 69 jersey throughout practice. Kelly's stature and long hair were convincing enough to fool a few media members before reality set in.

Bakhtiari, who's currently on the physically unable to perform list, later came out wearing Kelly's actual No. 79 jersey.

Kelly is a veteran of 104 career NFL games. He started every game last year for the Tennessee Titans at right tackle. A fifth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2012, the 6-foot-8, 321-pound tackle also was a member of the Titans during LaFleur's season as Tennessee's offensive coordinator in 2019.

"Dennis, first of all, what a great person. He's going to bring so much to our locker room," LaFleur said. "He's a massive, massive man and I think it's going to be a pretty seamless transition because when I left Tennessee, they named Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator and a lot of the terminology stayed the same."

3. Kelly's signing was more about depth than any concerns with Bakhtiari's recovery.

When asked if Kelly's signing was any reflection about the organization's feelings about Bakhtiari's rehab, General Manager Brian Gutekunst said the move had more to do with depth on the offensive line.

To that point, the Packers haven't been sheepish about signing veteran offensive linemen. Over the past four years, they've brought in All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, Jared Veldheer, Rick Wagner and now Kelly.

"At the tackle spot for us, it gives us some depth," Gutekunst said. "We have some young players that we're really excited about, but overall, it strengthens what I thought was a pretty strong group."

4. Life is getting back to a little more normal inside Lambeau Field.

Following practice, several players remarked that things are starting to feel a little more normal around team facilities, as some COVID-19 measures have been relaxed this year.

"Seeing people's smiles again, that's big-time," tight end Robert Tonyan said. "I'm a guy who runs off of like emotions and vibes, and to see people smiling again, it just makes me happy. Like I go into the training room, and I can see all the trainers happy and smiling, they're not hiding behind a mask, and you get to just finally see people's emotions and a smile goes a long way."

5. Kenny Clark focused even more on flexibility this offseason.

The Packers' Pro Bowl defensive tackle has done yoga for quite a while now but took soft tissue training even more seriously after the Week 1 groin injury hampered him early last season.

Kenny Clark got back in a groove by midseason and finished the year with a 1½-sack performance against Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

"I did a lot more yoga this year, did a lot of Pilates this year trying to strengthen up my muscles and all that stuff," Clark said. "Every time I'm healthy, my play and my season speaks for itself. Towards the end of the season, I got my legs up under me and started playing how I usually play and happy how I finished off the season."

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