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As training camp gets set to tee off in the NFL there are plenty of questions on the depth chart for the Green Bay Packers that will gain more clarity as things carry into the preseason.
With Davante Adams gone, the wide receiver room for the Packers is somewhat of an enigma entering the late portions of the summer. It’s not the only position on the roster that has questions requiring answers.
Here are some of the training camp battles that will unfold in Green Bay in the next few weeks.
Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combine to form one of the best duos in the entire NFL at running back. As long as both stay healthy, they will chew up the majority of the backfield touches in head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense again in 2022.
The battle behind them for the coveted third spot on the depth chart is one filled with intrigue.
Kylin Hill showed glimpses in the preseason last year at running back and in the return game in the regular season before suffering a gruesome ACL injury. On one hand, Hill having a year under his belt could provide him some wiggle room entering this year. On the flip side of the coin, all signs point towards Hill starting the year on the physically unable to perform list which could put him behind the 8-ball.
Enter Patrick Taylor and undrafted rookie Tyler Goodson.
The former got some run last year, primarily in the regular-season finale against the Lions when he ran for a couple of touchdowns on 11 carries. Taylor is a bruising running back who invites contact and likes to run between the tackles. With Hill likely out to start training camp and Taylor having some experience with the Packers, he very well could have the edge on the No. 3 spot in the backfield.
Goodson has emerged as the attractive pick of the bunch amongst the fan base before training camp even gets going. After a successful career at Iowa where he was the clear top back for two seasons and led the team in carries all three years he wore the black and gold, it was somewhat of a surprise when Goodson wasn’t selected in the NFL draft. The undrafted rookie has great footwork and is a viable option out of the backfield as a receiving back. In LaFleur’s offense, the ability to be a pass-catching back is crucial. Goodson offers that on a larger scale compared to Taylor.
This battle will be one that is decided in the summer with no clear frontrunner heading into training camp.
Adams’ exit in a trade to the Las Vegas Raiders has made the wide receiver spot for the Packers the premier position to keep tabs on this summer.
Familiar faces are back like Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Amari Rodgers and a lot could be put on the plate of Lazard to elevate his game even more.
Green Bay addressed the position in the draft by selecting Christian Watson (second round), Romeo Doubs (fourth round) and Samori Toure (seventh round). The Packers also signed veteran wideout Sammy Watkins in free agency.
How the dominoes fall is anyone’s guess but there have been hints.
Earlier this offseason, Aaron Rodgers bluntly said that the Packers have three guys in Cobb, Lazard and Watkins at the top of the totem pole with plenty of competition behind those three. The back-to-back MVP winner didn’t mince words when discussing the increased role for Lazard.
“He’s been our dirty work guy for most of his career here. Now he’s getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver,” Rodgers said. “I’m not worried about him at all stepping into that role. I’ve talked to him a lot. I know how he takes care of his body and I know he’ll be ready when he’s here.”
That clears up some of the questions and how Lazard will perform in a No. 1 role remains a great mystery. The battle behind those three will be just as fascinating.
Amari Rodgers was nearly invisible in his rookie season after being selected in the third round out of Clemson in the 2021 NFL draft. When he did pop up on the radar, it was usually for a special teams blunder.
Year 2 could be a prove it year for Rodgers and although it’s still very early on in his career, his rookie year left a lot to be desired. With a solid training camp, he could be the No. 4 wideout on the depth chart and the second slot option behind Cobb.
As for the rookies, Watson, Doubs and Toure should all get ample opportunity in the preseason to show their worth and for the first time in quite some time, the Packers will almost assuredly have to rely on rookie wideouts in some capacity.
Earning Rodgers’ trust has taken time with young wide receivers in the past but this year will be the anomaly with so many questions existing with the depth from the start. If Watson puts together a strong summer and preseason, there’s the possibility for him to climb the ladder on the depth chart as the season carries along. The potential is off the charts for the North Dakota State product but as Rodgers has said in the past, he prefers production over potential.
In an ideal world, David Bakhtiari slots in at left tackle with Elgton Jenkins at right tackle and Green Bay goes about its merry way. The odds of that happening by the time Week 1 rolls around is extremely unlikely.
Bakhtiari missed all but one game last year for the Packers as the All-Pro was still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in December 2020. LaFleur said back in May that he’s “hopeful” Bakhtiari will be ready for training camp although he’s starting camp on the Physically Unable to Play (PUP) list. Still, if things go according to plan, Bakhtiari will be the left tackle in Week 1 against the Vikings.
The same isn’t expected for Jenkins.
Jenkins tore his ACL in November against the Vikings and the logical outcome is that he’ll start the season on the PUP list. That opens up a slot somewhere on the line as the versatile Jenkins can play anywhere but most likely, the hole is at right tackle.
Yosh Nijman might be the likely favorite to start the opener at right tackle but he is pretty strictly a left tackle. The switch to the other side of the line isn’t necessarily ideal and a couple of rookies could push Nijman in training camp.
Sean Rhyan was a third-round selection for the Packers and he started at left tackle in all three years he was at UCLA. He could move to the right side or even slide in at right guard which could kick Royce Newman out to right tackle. Good luck keeping up with all those moving pieces on the chess board.
Zach Tom was taken in the fourth round by the Packers and he’s quite literally listed as an offensive lineman anywhere you look. The former Demon Deacon played tackle and center in college and if nothing else, will be a nice depth piece in his rookie season on the line. If Tom has a great summer, his name could be under consideration for the right tackle spot.
Cole Van Lanen is the final name to keep tabs on. A sixth-round pick out of Wisconsin last year, Van Lanen has been given opportunities at right tackle earlier this spring in practices for the Packers. During those sessions, it was Nijman who worked on the left side with Bakhtiari being out. Van Lanen has a real shot to not only make the final roster coming out of the preseason but to also contend for the right tackle spot.
Special teams was a wire-to-wire abomination for the Packers last year. During this training camp, a battle will unfold at long snapper.
Steven Wirtel is back for the Packers and was put on the active roster last November to take over at the spot. Green Bay has added some competition for Wirtel this year.
Undrafted rookie Jack Coco was scooped up after being the long snapper at Georgia Tech for three seasons.
No team keeps two long snappers on the roster so this will be a battle that has just one winner emerge before the regular-season opener. If Coco isn’t the winner, he could end up on the practice squad.
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Sammy Watkins, expected to compete for one of the top wide receiver spots on Green Bay, was placed on the non-football injury list Tuesday as Packers veterans reported to training camp. Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Watkins had 27 receptions for 394 yards and a touchdown with
There are four dates to remember: July 27. August 12. August 19. September 11. Up first, the opening practice of Green Bay Packers 2022 training camp. A few weeks from now, Green Bay will travel to the Bay Area for a preseason rematch against the team that last booted them
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