Training Camp Preview: Packers Positional Battles
Bring on the bikes, training camp is here.
Here is a position-by-position look at the Packer’s depth chart, and potential position battles that will take place during training camp.
Battles: If Harrell, who threw for more than 5,000 yards in his senior season at Texas Tech, picks up the offense, he might give Flynn a run for the backup QB spot. Harrell is said to be the prototypical West Coast offense quarterback. For now, Flynn, who is entering his third year in the Packers system, has the edge. If Harrell flounders in training camp, the Packers may decide to go with only two quarterbacks, making him a candidate for the practice squad.
Projection: Flynn holds on to the No. 2 spot and Harrell earns a roster spot.
Battles: If Starks can stay healthy, and that’s a big if after he failed his physical yesterday, he might be able to compete with Jackson for the third-down back spot. The Packers have traditionally kept only three running backs (that was the case in 2009, 2008 and 2007), so unless Lumpkin or Porter make a big impression, they face an uphill battle to make the roster.
Projection: Starks and Jackson split reps as the third-down back and Lumpkin and Porter get cut.
Battles: Basically, all three guys are battling for the starting spot. Unless Ted Thompson again decides to keep three fullbacks, it looks like Hall might be the odd man out.
Projection: Kuhn and Johnson split the reps and Hall gets cut. Either Jacksonville or San Francisco could be interested in Hall.
Battles: Jones and Nelson are battling for the third receiver spot and after the first four guys, the rest of the receivers are battling for one or two roster spots.
Projection: Jones edges Nelson for the third receiver spot and Swain ends up fifth because of his special teams play. The Packers have kept only five receivers each of the past two years, but if they go with six, Williams or Gore may have a shot.
Battles: Quarless, Lee, and Havner are competing for a roster spot.
Projection: Quarless is a fourth-round draft pick, so he’s essentially guaranteed a roster spot, but it would be a surprise if he’s effective as a rookie. Havner is valuable on special teams and in the red zone. It looks like Lee is the odd man out in what will likely be a group of three tight ends.
Battles: Starting left guard is the prime time battle, where Daryn Colledge will face off against Jason Spitz. Lang is likely to challenge Tauscher at right tackle and if everything goes well, Bulaga will push Clifton at left tackle. The rest of the guys are fighting for roster spots.
Projection: Barbre, Campbell, Giacomini and McDonald are looking for jobs after training camp. Spitz beats Colledge for the left guard spot. Lang pushes Tauscher, but the Packers open the season with the veteran at right tackle. Clifton ends up starting the year on the left side while Bulaga gets his feet wet. The Packers trade Colledge, allowing them to keep both Deitrich-Smith and Newhouse.
Battles: The starters are set as, from left to right, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins. Neal, a second-round pick, is guaranteed a spot. The question is whether Harrell can stay injury free and live up to his first-round draft pick status. The rest of the guys are playing for a roster spot.
Projection: Harrell, Mullens, Talley and Toribio miss the cut.
Battles: There may be a competition between Jones and Poppinga for the starting OLB spot opposite of Matthews, but Jones would have to play very poorly for that to happen. Bishop and Chillar will push for more reps at ILB.
Projection: Jones starts, but Poppinga gets reps as a pass rusher. Francois, Joseph, and Zambo miss the final cut. Russell and Obiozor either make the roster or the practice squad.
Battles: The Packers are set at the top with Woodson, Harris and Williams. However, Harris will be out for some time while rehabbing his knee. That makes the fourth slot all the more important. Underwood, Lee and Bush will battle for that. There’s probably one roster spot left if Harris is out for an extended period, which is entirely possible.
Projection: Harris will miss time, but be ready to go on September 12. Lee, a former second-round pick, finally manages to stay healthy and develop as the fourth corner. Underwood is close behind him. The Jarrett Bush experiment may finally end if Shields, a speed demon who could stick for his return ability alone, shows anything, but Shields is more likely a practice squad addition.
Battles: Bigby is still listed as the starter, but hasn’t done himself any favors by skipping offseason activities and failing his physical. It looks like he’ll have a real battle with Burnett. The only other battles are for roster spots.
Projection: Bigby gets the starting spot because of his experience, but Burnett will play a role in the defense. Martin and Blackmon make the cut because of their importance on special teams and because they can also play cornerback. Peprah and Levine are cut.
Battles: Crosby gets a free pass again.
Projection: Crosby will have a better year than he did in ’09.
Battles: This will be one of the most hotly contested battles of training camp. Bryan and Masthay, neither of which have kicked in an NFL game, are dead-even according to coach Mike McCarthy.
Projection: Bryan gets the spot due to his consistency and hang time.
Projection: Goode will stay healthy and consistent.
Battles: The annual return man battle will take place again, and this time there’s a little more excitement. Shields is electric and has speed to burn. Of course, Blackmon, Nelson and Williams have experience and, with the exception of Blackmon, are essentially guaranteed roster spots. Blackmon will have to prove he’s recovered from last season’s torn ACL to get his old job back.
Projection: Blackmon will get the nod at PR, where no one else proves themselves terribly capable. Shields is the wild card, but Nelson and Blackmon are likely to be the Packers primary kick returners.