There were a lot of positives to take away from the Green Bay Packers Family Night held at Lambeau Field over the weekend. A number of players stepped up and played well in front of 65,000 people, a potential sign of good things to come in the future.
With a joint practice and preseason game on deck against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Family Night environment was a good setting for some of the players to get their feet wet in front of a big crowd. Who handled it well? Six players stood out among their teammates.
First was Devonte Wyatt. The 2022 first-round pick had to wait until near the end of the season to get his chance to shine but he made the most of it. That positive momentum has carried into the offseason, as he is showcasing that second-year jump the Packers were hoping for.
Wyatt is providing some pass rushing from the defensive line, something the team desperately needs more of. He has been a fixture in the offensive backfield, creating havoc on a regular basis.
Rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks also stood out. The defensive line depth was a concern in the opinion of many heading into the offseason, but those concerns have been quieted. The inexperience around Kenny Clark hasn’t been an issue as the group’s collective speed and athleticism have been on full display.
Another standout on defense was linebacker Tariq Carpenter. He is making the transition to the second level of the defense after being drafted and playing collegiately at Georgia Tech as a safety.
That transition is something that will take time. He has admitted he still sees himself as a safety, but he was excellent on Family Night with two interceptions. Snaps defensively will be hard to come by as the fifth linebacker, but Carpenter is a key contributor on the Packers’ special teams units.
Offensively, the biggest standout was wide receiver Malik Heath. He has a tall mountain to climb to make the 53-man roster but is doing everything he can to convince the Packers coaching staff to carry six wide receivers.
Regardless of the situation, whether it is drills or competition sessions, Heath has hauled in passes with regularity. His speed has stood out and there could be a situational role available during the regular season if he continues playing at this level.
Last but not least is rookie kicker Anders Carlson. There may not have been a player in need of a big night more than the Auburn product. His leg strength is undeniable, but if you’re a kicker and can’t put the ball through the uprights, how far you can kick is irrelevant.
The Packers have to be a little more comfortable with Carlson after his Family Night performance. He went 8-of-9 with all eight kicks coming from 40+ yards, three of which were on 51+ yard attempts. If he finds consistency, Carlson will provide the Packers with an asset they haven’t had in a few years with Mason Crosby’s leg strength waning in recent seasons.