5 Green Bay Packers' Training Camp Battles You Can't Miss

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2012

5 Green Bay Packers' Training Camp Battles You Can't Miss

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    It's all the rage now—massive battles between people vying for the same job, the same box office, the same comic book audience.

    Even Avengers and X-Men can't get along. In this crazy mixed up world, if Captain America and Namor can't—

    What are you looking at me like that for?

    *ahem*

    MOVING ON.

    Now that the draft is done and most of free agency is finished, we can begin to look at training camp and what we can expect from it.

    Of course, there will be battles. Epic battles. EARTH-SHAKING BATTLES.

    Well, maybe not earth-shaking—but these players will indeed fight for position as if the fate of the world depended on it. Certainly some of their jobs do.

    Training camp battles can be intense and brutal, as players who normally get along will fight tooth and nail on the field for that starting job, or even a back-up role.

    Here is an early look at five battles we expect to see in Packers training camp,which will be hard-fought, what we think the outcome will be and what that might mean for the team's season.

Graham Harrell vs. BJ Coleman

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    While the back-up job is likely locked up for Graham Harrell, a strong showing by rookie BJ Coleman could upset the apple cart.

    Coleman has a strong arm and is very smart—he needs his footwork fixed, something that the Packers' famed QB camp will go a long way towards helping.

    Harrell is a solid backup with a little more pro experience who missed out on the QB Camp last year due to the lockout. In many ways, that puts Coleman on equal footing as Harrell, save for the fact that Harrell has far more reps in the Packers offense than Coleman at this point (obviously).

    However, it's not like Harrell started for an extended time, or even once last year. How far ahead of Coleman is he?

    If Coleman can have a strong summer, he could step in front of Harrell.

    WINNER: Harrell

    Ultimately Harrell's experience will win out, combined with the fact that even if he crushes it, Coleman's footwork is likely a multi-season alteration.

    Besides that, in the unlikely event Aaron Rodgers goes down due to injury, even a little experience goes a long way towards surviving the absence.

    It's hard to believe that head coach Mike McCarthy would feel comfortable depending on the rookie for a length of time, even if Harrell isn't much more than one himself.

Alex Green vs. Brandon Saine

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    With Ryan Grant gone (and perhaps fraternizing with the Lions), James Starks steps into the starting running back role.

    Of course, we know McCarthy likes to roll out a backup off and on, so who the No. 2 running back is could be critical.

    Alex Green played sparingly in the first portion of the year before getting hurt. He wasn't incredibly impressive, as you'd expect from a middle to late-round pick out of Hawaii, and struggled a bit in pass protection (something James Starks knows about from his rookie season).

    Brandon Saine is a darling of the coaching staff, apparently, and stepped in late in the season. He too played sparingly, though he looked a bit better than what little we saw of Green.

    Saine caught the ball well out of the backfield and ran tough on the few carries he got.

    Both will have to step it up in camp if they want the primary back-up job.

    WINNER: Brandon Saine

    Green will get his shot, but Saine just looked more versatile in his carries and more comfortable. The Packers say they will run the ball more, and so, while Starks will get the bulk of the carries, he'll need to be spelled.

    Plus, he hasn't been the healthiest of players so far. Saine will be a better fit right now because he can do more things, and if Starks went down, Saine would be a better weapon in the backfield.

James Jones vs. Randall Cobb

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    This one might be rigged because I am a huge fan of Cobb's abilities and potential. With Donald Driver likely in a reduced role, someone will need to step up behind Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings.

    Jones is a dynamic receiver who just can't seem to hold onto the ball at big moments, though he showed tremendous improvement last season. He stepped into the "Donald Driver" possession receiver role a few times last year and did a fine job. He's got the tools, but seems to have hit his ceiling.

    We know what we have in him.

    In Cobb's rookie season, he was held to just one touchdown on a passing play, the rest of his damage done on kick returns. He's a younger, slightly more flashy version of Jones with great hands, dangerous ability after the catch and very good speed.

    Cobb's potential is still out there, and he is far from it, but I expect a big leap this year.

    WINNER: Randall Cobb

    Probably not fair given my man-love for Cobb, but I just like what he brings to the table more than Jones. We've seen Jones and everything he can bring to the table. Cobb has shown us flashes and it's time to give us the full show.

    Cobb's great hands and determination in traffic will make him a good replacement for Driver, and his speed and moves with the ball in his hand give the Packers another dangerous weapon behind Jennings and Nelson.

CJ Wilston vs Jerel Worthy

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    With Anthony Hargrove out for eight games due to the fallout of the bounty scandal, there is a need for a defensive end across from Ryan Pickett.

    Wilson is only entering his third year in the league, and while his production hasn't been tremendous, it saw improvement from year one to year two. He's a solid player, a seventh-round draft pick who is earning his keep—a Packer kind of guy.

    Worthy, the second-round selection of the Packers this year, is moving over from a defensive tackle spot, and it might take him a little to get his feet. He's got a great first step, can shed blockers and get into the backfield to make plays.

    It really comes down to whether Worthy will be ready come August. Can he make the transition smoothly enough for McCarthy to give him the nod?

    WINNER: Jerel Worthy

    The answer is yes. The Packers need pass-rushers, and Worthy will be a far more effective one that Wilson even when he is still learning the ropes. Worthy's ability to get in the backfield coupled with Pickett, Clay Matthews and fellow rookie Nick Perry is too good an opportunity to pass up.

Charlie Peprah vs. Jeron McMillian

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    With the end of Nick Collins' time with the Packers (and likely his career), there's a hole at safety where the Pro Bowl player had been.

    There has been talk that Charles Woodson will move over, but until that actually happens, either veteran Charlie Peprah or rookie Jeron McMillian will fill the gap.

    Peprah has the edge in experience and knowledge of the Packers' defensive scheme, but has never been a great safety. He's certainly not untouchable.

    McMillian has some rough edges, but is a very physical player, can read and react to passes well and is ready to go in terms of defending the run.

    The Packers brought him in and loved his style of play. All praised him after the pick, secondary coach Darren Perry making the most salient point:

    "He was always around the football, tremendous effort. Some of the things they do are very similar." He's an excellent tackler "and you guys know what our tackling looked like last year."

     

    WINNER: Jeron McMillian

    To me, the quote above is what tips it.

    It's not that Peprah is a bad player; just that the Packers will like the way McMillian plays better. If he has a good camp and plays the physical, hard tackling game they want from him, then he'll be the guy they want on the field.

    He just needs to be consistent and aggressive, and he will win that job.