GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers had seen from the sidelines during the first two preseason games the same thing that most Green Bay Packers fans have seen from backups DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins: inconsistency.
But, Rodgers believes, Kizer and Boyle have been better than they’ve looked because of the moving parts around them.
“I think they’ve had some really good moments,” the Packers starting quarterback said after practice Monday. “The key with any backup is to try to find that consistency within a game because there’s so many moving pieces in front of you. Most of the time, you’re going to see different (offensive) lines. There’s different guys blocking in front of you.
“DeShone got to go with the 1s. Tim had a mixture of 2s and 3 with, I think, (veteran) Lane (Taylor) and (rookie) Elgton (Jenkins) rotating in (at left guard). So there’s so many moving pieces in front of you. The key is to be good on communication and look for the matchups that you’d like. But I think they’ve really done some nice things.
“I think Tim and DeShone have played really, really well, and they’re making it look like the way you want it to look.”
General manager Brian Gutekunst apparently agrees. When asked Monday whether he felt Rodgers’ top backup is on the roster now — or if he might have to trade for one or pick one up after the final roster cuts — Gutekunst said he expects Rodgers’ backup to come from the group currently in camp.
“I think we’ve got some pretty good options and they’re competing right now,” Gutekunst replied. “I think it’s probably likely that it would come from guys on our roster right now.”
Rodgers did make a pitch for Wilkins, an undrafted free agent from Arizona State, to get some work in the preseason finale Aug. 29 against Kansas City. Rodgers once coached Wilkins as a high-schooler at the annual Elite 11 camp.
"It’d be nice to give Manny some more throws because I think he’s had a really nice camp,” Rodgers said. “He’s very athletic, he does some great things in and out of the pocket. Maybe Week 4 he’ll get some more opportunities.”
Praise for receivers
While Rodgers was doling out praise for his backups, he also was talking up the wide receiver group, which he believes is one of the most competitive and deepest of his time as a starter, which dates to 2008.
“I can’t put it up there as the best receiving group we’ve had just based on resumes,” Rodgers said. “(But) I think it’s definitely one of the deeper groups that we’ve had. There are a lot of guys with legitimate shots to make the team — some guys who you didn’t maybe think of before camp who have had incredible camps.
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“More than any other year, I think, there’s just so much competition for spots 4 through whatever it might be and that’s pretty exciting.“
And while Rodgers wound up saying nice things about a host of the receivers currently on the roster, there is one player in particular who has impressed Rodgers: Allen Lazard, who joined the team late last season from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad and saw action in one game, catching one pass for 7 yards. Lazard enters Thursday night’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg leading the team in receiving yards (90).
“I’m talking about specifically, Allen Lazard. He’s had a really nice camp, he’s made a bunch of plays,” Rodgers said. “He’s always showing up on special teams, he does things the right way in practice. I think he’s put himself in position to legitimately be playing for all 32 teams.
“We see that from time to time, the cliché that you’re always playing for the entire NFL. And that is true to a point if you’re good enough — and Allen is definitely good enough to be an NFL player. I think he’s had a fantastic training camp.“
Graham avoids major injury
Tight end Jimmy Graham, who left Sunday’s practice with a finger injury, appears to have avoided what could have been a serious injury.
“I think we might have escaped one there,” Gutekunst said.
LaFleur said Graham will not need surgery for the finger, though it’s unclear how long Graham will be sidelined. Graham did not take part in Monday’s practice.
“He’ll be all right,” LaFleur said.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari was back practicing after missing Sunday’s session for a personal matter. … Wide receiver Trevor Davis, back in action after a stinger sidelined him for nearly two weeks, had the play of the day with a terrific leaping catch in double coverage for a 40-yard gain on a deep ball from Boyle. … LaFleur coached practice without a boot on his left foot. … Jamaal Williams, who returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday, got some limited 11-on-11 work during Monday’s practice. He is not expected to play Thursday night.