J’Mon Moore had a good practice on Sunday, including catching a deep, in-breaking route in which he accelerated through the secondary.
“I thought today he came out with a whole different energy,” coach Matt LaFleur said after practice. “And I thought his play reflected that. He made some nice plays in there today. The game was a little so-so for him vs. the Texans. If he attacks practice like he did today, with that energy, with that attitude … he’s a talented guy. So, he got better today and that’s what the challenge is for him each and every day. Can you attack it with that same mind-set?”
Saying Thursday’s game against Houston was “so-so” would be a stretch. On fourth-and-goal from the 3, he dropped what should have been an easy touchdown pass from Tim Boyle. A penalty kept the drive alive, and Moore made amends moments later with a juggling touchdown catch. His spike of the football was one of frustration rather than celebration.
Moore has not been ready for prime time. On Family Night as a rookie in 2018, Moore dropped a touchdown pass. A week later, in the preseason opener against Tennessee, Moore dropped two passes. A week after that, he dropped another pass. Because of his horrendous training camp, Moore was a total nonfactor with just two catches and 74 offensive snaps last season.
Until Moore does something when the lights are on, what happens on the practice field is irrelevant.
“I feel like a lot of people are frustrated with me, and I’d be frustrated, too, especially me knowing what I can do and what they brought me here for,” Moore said. “It’s God’s plan. It might not be pretty from the star, but I know, when it’s all said and done, it will be what everybody wanted. I’m just trying to take it day by day. I’m trying to grow and, with this process, God’s been teaching me patience and humbling me, and I’m just going to continue to better myself every day.”
The Packers selected Moore with a fourth-round pick in 2018. He put up back-to-back 70-catch seasons at Missouri but also dropped 24 passes during his collegiate career, according to ProFootball Focus. Before the draft, he worked on catching passes with slick gardening gloves. On the practice field, he’s used receiver gloves and gone without gloves.
Nothing has worked. Because of his consistent inconsistency, Moore finds himself very much on the roster bubble in a potentially deep receiver corps. He’s been thoroughly outplayed by Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and Darrius Shepherd, all of whom went undrafted.
“I think I just kind of worry about things that I shouldn’t even worry about, and my mind just be all over, instead of me just relaxing and slowing the game down like I can,” Moore said. “I kind of just be anticipating too much, being too antsy, too ready to make something happen, instead of letting the game just come to me. So that’s something that I’m working on, and when I can master that skill on this professional level, I’ll be dangerous.”
Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown dropped out of practice but was on the sideline by the end of the 2-hour, 7-minute workout.
Out: WR Trevor Davis (stinger), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee), CB Kevin King (hamstring), RB Jamaal Williams (hamstring), ILB Oren Burks (chest), FB Danny Vitale (calf), FB Malcolm Johnson (groin), CB Kabion Ento (calf), TE Evan Baylis (calf), OLB Greg Roberts (core muscle), TE Jace Sternberger (concussion) and DT Fadol Brown (calf).
New: St. Brown and Baylis.
Returned: RT Bryan Bulaga (rest) and DT Kingsley Keke (quad).
LaFleur would not get into specifics regarding Burks, who reportedly could have a torn pectoral – an injury that probably would end his season.
Once again, Curtis Bolton took the reps alongside Blake Martinez with the No. 1 defense. Bolton has remained ahead of seventh-round pick Ty Summers throughout camp, even though Summers started with Burks on Thursday and had a game-high 10 tackles.
Kumerow no longer is a nice story about a player who starred at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater and overcame adversity to make it to the NFL. Really, the only question is how big of a role Kumerow will earn on game days.
During a red-zone drill, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threaded a pass to Kumerow in the back of the end zone. Kumerow caught the ball and managed to get both feet inbounds while being shoved by cornerback Tony Brown. Later, during a two-minute drill, his 30-yard reception from DeShone Kizer set up a touchdown. Other than Davante Adams, Kumerow has made the most plays among the receivers.
“I love what he brings to the table each and every day,” LaFleur said.
The No. 1 defense dominated the first 11-on-11 period. First, it was outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith blowing up a toss to running back Tra Carson, joining safety Adrian Amos to stop Carson again and beating Jimmy Graham for a sack. Then, it was defensive tackle Kenny Clark’s turn to stop a pair of runs right at the line.
The defense remains the team’s best unit, even though it’s been a revolving door in the defensive backfield. The primary players haven’t played a single snap together yet. Second-year cornerback Josh Jackson missed the first 11 practices and Thursday’s preseason game, and he hasn’t taken an 11-on-11 rep. Rookie first-round safety Darnell Savage missed the first five practices after having a wisdom tooth removed. Third-year cornerback Kevin King has missed the last four practices as well as the game.
“It doesn’t seem like that,” Amos said of potential chemistry issues. “It may seem like that from the outside but we’ve got walk-throughs, we’ve got meetings. When we go out on the field, it’s taking that meeting and that preparation to the field. Everybody is trained at everything in the secondary. It’s taking those mental reps to the field.”
On 11 punts, JK Scott averaged 48.5 yards with 4.51 seconds of hang time. However, Scott was plagued by inconsistency. He hit six punts of 50-plus yards but also had three of less than 40 yards; he had six punts of at least 4.65 seconds of hang time but two with 3.76 or less.
Shepherd took most of the return reps though, it must be noted, this was a punt drill and not a punt-return drill.
After an off-day on Monday, the Packers will be back at it at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. The team will travel to Baltimore on Wednesday for Thursday night’s preseason game.
There are only three practices that are open to the public remaining in training camp: Tuesday’s and 1:30 p.m. workouts on Monday, Aug. 18, and Tuesday, Aug. 19. The Packers also will practice on Wednesday, Aug. 20, as LaFleur gets his team into regular-season mode.
“I think it’s important that in the preseason they get the feel of a weekly rhythm,” he said.