5 Green Bay Packers Players Who Should See Their Roles Expand in 2013
The Green Bay Packers are facing some big turnover this offseason as they look to replace playmakers such as Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson. Given the veterans who won't be back in green and gold next year, there should be numerous opportunities for younger players to see expanded roles in 2013.
The Packers' already young roster should get even younger with the exodus of older talent. The draft should make them even younger with influx of new players.
Here is a look at which players should see expanded roles and additional playing time next season.
Davon House had a great preseason, but a shoulder injury forced him to miss time, and he was never the same. With an offseason to get healthy, House should have the opportunity to get healthy and get back to where he was before the injury. The Packers secondary is crowded with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, but House has the talent to compete.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had some big praise for House (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
House is back here; he looks great. He had his surgery and I thought he had an excellent training camp. He'll definitely be someone who'll push for a starting position or definitely a big role in our defense.
House finished last year with one sack, 26 tackles and five pass defenses, playing nine games on the year. With good health, House should improve those numbers and also provide some interceptions.
The Packers struggled on the defensive line as their free-agent pickups and high-draft pick Jerel Worthy failed to have a consistent impact. One player in the rotation that showed some strong potential was Mike Daniels. He finished the year with two sacks and two fumble recoveries in limited playing time.
With Worthy likely missing the first portion of the year, the Packers will need Daniels to make a big jump in his second year. They were inactive in free agency, and it remains to be seen how strongly they address the line during the draft.
There is a good chance that Daniels gets an opportunity to prove himself. The big man out of Iowa showed some potential in his rookie year but needs to play more consistently to become a constant force.
Casey Hayward put together quite a campaign for defensive rookie of the year. The first-year cornerback finished the year with six interceptions and a forced fumble in limited playing time. Hayward spent time as the Packers' nickel corner behind Tramon Williams and Sam Shields.
Hayward's strong coverage skills and playmaking ability have him primed for a real breakout year. While the Packers have a bunch of young, talented corners, Hayward could make the most noise next season. He's got a great nose for the football, as he delivered whenever he stepped on the field.
While Packers fans obsess about finding a running back in the NFL draft, the answer might already be on the roster in the form of DuJuan Harris. The diminutive running back burst onto the scene late last season, playing in the last six games including the playoffs. Over that stretch, Harris averaged an impressive 4.1 yards per rush.
Next year, Harris should see a big piece of the action for the Packers. He proved himself as a threat from the backfield. He can successfully run the ball with his elusiveness or split out wide, catching the ball in space. Paired with another back, Harris will give the Packers half of an extremely solid one-two punch. Even if the Packers strike out in the draft, Harris could be effectively paired with Cedric Benson.
With the Packers' plethora of talented receivers, it was surprising to see Jarrett Boykin crack the starting lineup. The undrafted rookie wide receiver got a number of opportunities and turned them into five receptions for 27 yards. One of Boykin's best catches of the year came on fourth down as he sacrificed his body to get a first down.
With Greg Jennings and Donald Driver out of the picture, Boykin should be able to slide up the depth chart and have an impact. It may take more injuries for him to get some solid playing time, but if history repeats itself, he's in good shape to see the field.
The Packers are likely to bring in a wide receiver during the draft, but Boykin has earned every right to compete during training camp.