Packers defense manhandles Jets offensive line in combined practice

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — This was not the Giants’ backup defensive line.

The Packers came out blazing on defense against the Jets’ offensive line Wednesday. Unofficially, Zach Wilson was “sacked” seven times (there is no tackling in practice, so sacks are an estimate). Green Bay’s defensive line caused havoc and made it tough to evaluate the Jets’ rookie quarterback because it was so disruptive.

Is this reason to worry?

There should not be panic, but maybe some concern. The Jets have attributed any pass-protection struggles in training camp to going against a revamped defensive line that features Carl Lawson, who has been in the backfield all camp.

On Wednesday, Lawson was chasing Aaron Rodgers, while the Jets’ O-line had trouble with Packers linebacker Preston Smith (two sacks), defensive tackle Kingsley Keke (two sacks) and a few blitzers. Smith beat left tackle Mekhi Becton on several occasions, getting a few near-sacks on top of the ones he had. Becton has had a tough time in training camp with Lawson.

George Fant (76), Connor McGovern (60), Corey Levin (65), Mekhi Becton (77)
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Packers star pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith was not in on team drills.

Center Connor McGovern spoke to reporters after practice. He had not seen the film of practice yet, but felt the pass protection was good. He may feel differently after studying the film. McGovern pointed to the offensive line’s performance against the Giants on Saturday, but Big Blue rested its starters in that one.

“As you can tell from the preseason game [against the Giants], our D-line is pretty good,” McGovern said. “I think as today went on, we had a pretty good day pass protecting. I have to watch the film, so I don’t know for sure but, for the most part, it feels pretty solid. We’re going against some cats that bring it every single snap, every single day. It’s been huge for us. Our pass pro in the game, I don’t think Zach got sacked. As far as I’m concerned, we’re doing pretty good and getting better every day.”

McGovern believes the offensive line is ahead of where it was last year when COVID-19 led to a shortened training camp and no preseason games. He also feels that Mike LaFleur’s blocking schemes are simpler than what they ran under Adam Gase last year and therefore easier to execute.

“Huge difference,” McGovern said about last year. “Again, it goes back to the scheme, which is what I prefer. As an O-line, we did as much as we could last year. We were pretty limited on that. This year, we’ve been doing as much as we can, and it’s a lot. The cohesion in this room is amazing. We have a super-close room. Everybody enjoys being around each other. It’s not cliquey. There’s not two guys here, three guys there. We’ve been having a lot of fun and we’ve been growing. … This O-line room fires me up.”

On Wednesday, they also fired up the Packers’ defensive line.

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