5 Green Bay Packers Who Need to Prove Themselves This Offseason
The Green Bay Packers opened up their organized team activities (OTAs) yesterday as the majority of players hit the practice field for the first time since last season.
This begins the opportunity for players to showcase their talents and grow as players before the season gets underway.
With many players returning from the Packers team that dominated the regular season only to lay an egg in the playoffs, the Packers are in very good shape with a strong core.
Even so, many position battles are set to get underway and certain veterans may see the bench or even be released if they can't prove their worth.
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Charlie Peprah was likely the Packers' worst starter in 2011 as he was constantly burned for long plays and touchdowns.
With Nick Collins' exit leaving the safety spot vacant next to Morgan Burnett, the Packers need somebody to step up and be the player they needed so badly in 2011.
Peprah will face competition mostly from newly drafted Jerron McMillian, Anthony Levine and M.D. Jennings. There has also been discussion of moving Charles Woodson to safety to pair him with Burnett.
Peprah is no stranger to confidence; he was quoted as saying his goal is to "go out there and try to have a Pro Bowl season" by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers need Peprah to prove he is capable of overcoming his terrible 2011 campaign and step up to be that guy.
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Another member of the Packers' terrible secondary last year, Sam Shields needs to prove he is the player the franchise thought he could be after a surprisingly good rookie season.
Shields took a huge step back in 2011, which many have attributed to the lack of an offseason program. That won't be an excuse this season as Shields is coming into the offseason with full health.
The Packers won't be able to survive with a secondary as bad as last year, and Shields is a big piece of that. Last season, Shields was a liability in coverage.
This year, the Packers need Shields to be the opposite of that and pose a huge threat to quarterbacks looking his way.
Shields will get a competitive push from newly drafted Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush and Davon House for playing time.
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The Packers are entering OTAs having not re-signed Ryan Grant. As long as Grant is not under contract with the Packers, James Starks must face this offseason as the unquestioned starter.
Last season saw the Packers split carries between the pair, riding the hot hand. Even if the Packers look to retain this balance with Starks and one of the younger backs, Starks needs to attack this offseason as a leader and vital piece of the offense.
Starks needs to do whatever he can to maintain his health and stay on the field as much as possible.
After a seemingly disappointing season individually, Starks needs to get back to the player that caused so much havoc for the Packers during their Super Bowl run in 2010.
Starks enters the offseason leading a backfield filled with younger guys in Brandon Saine and Alex Green alongside longer shots Du'ane Bennett and Marc Tyler.
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After 13 seasons and numerous records, Donald Driver really doesn't have to prove anything. Regardless of the accolades and personal feelings held for Driver, the debate is a valid one: Should the Packers release Driver this offseason?
With young up-and-comers at the wide receiver position, many have argued that it's time to let the fan favorite go, despite the emotional heartache it would send through Wisconsin and to Packers fans everywhere.
When he returns from Dancing With The Stars, Driver would highly benefit from showing that his aged legs still have plenty to give.
While his play on the practice field may not even be the deciding factor, with Driver likely needing to take a pay cut in order to stay, it certainly can't hurt his cause.
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With Matt Flynn in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the Packers needed to solidify the backup quarterback situation.
Graham Harrell has the keys to the vehicle at this point and with a full offseason—including Mike McCarthy's quarterback school—needs to step up and improve his game.
While Graham is the front-runner for the job, former Arena League player Nick Hill and newly drafted B.J. Coleman will get opportunities as well.
With arguably the best quarterback in the game, the Packers hope they don't have to rely on Graham to carry the team. If Graham can use the offseason to improve, hopefully he is able to reach a point where if it came to that, all hope wouldn't be lost.