GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Matt LaFleur opened his first training camp as Packers head coach Wednesday by saying the offense is still a “work in progress.”
LaFleur said he will continue working to figure out what this team does best before it opens the season Sept. 5 on the road against rival Chicago.
“It’s taking it one day at a time,” he said. “How can we get better each and every day and along the way, again, finding out exactly what our guys do well so we can keep showcasing that and do that to play to our strengths. Because this game is about the players, there’s no doubt.”
In Green Bay, the key player is Aaron Rodgers, who at 34 is just five years younger than his new head coach. LaFleur called the two-time NFL MVP one of the most competitive players he’s ever been around.
“You can see it on a daily basis,” LaFleur said. “It’s not just on the field, it’s in the meeting room, too. I just enjoy our communication. I enjoy the challenge. He’s an extremely intelligent player that has played a lot of ball and you better know what you’re talking about.”
Rodgers threw only two interceptions in 597 pass attempts last season and compiled the second-most passing yards in his 11 years as a starter. But his 25 touchdown passes were the fewest of his career when he’s played all 16 games. Wide receiver Randall Cobb, now with Dallas, was sidelined for a large part of last season with a hamstring injury.
LaFleur spent last season as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, his first time calling plays in the NFL. He takes over for Mike McCarthy, who was fired last season following a stunning home loss to Arizona in December as the Packers headed toward a second consecutive year without a playoff berth.
LaFleur said he anticipates rookie safety Darnell Savage being ready for Thursday’s practice, the first of camp. Savage was placed on the non-football illness list Monday after having a dental procedure completed.
“That’s kind of a day-by-day thing to see how he feels,” LaFleur said of the 21st overall pick from Maryland who is well on his way to a starting job next to Adrian Amos.
Packers fans have already given the two safeties the “Smash and Savage” nickname.
“If we play well, it’s going to be a great nickname,” said Amos who signed with Green Bay in March after playing his first four seasons with the rival Bears.
The Packers open their preseason slate against Houston on Aug. 8 at Lambeau Field. The two teams will hold joint practices Aug. 5-6.
Notes: Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said during the team’s shareholders meeting that having a regular-season game in Europe remains a goal for the franchise. The Packers will play the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 22 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a 700-mile drive from Green Bay … Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels is expected to be released after seven seasons with the Packers, a move that comes after Green Bay signed Dean Lowry to a three-year, $20.3 million deal. “I know he’s meant a lot to this community, this football team,” LaFleur said of Daniels. “I still think he’s a really good player. I wish him well. But we feel really, really good about the group we have.” … LaFleur is in a walking boot for at least the next couple weeks as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in May.
Keith Jenkins can be reached at https://twitter.com/MrKeithJenkins
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