Early Predictions for Green Bay Packers' 2014 Training Camp Battles
It's hard to believe that training camp is now less than two months away for the Green Bay Packers. It seems like just yesterday that the team was drafting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round of the NFL draft.
With training camp quickly coming up on the calendar, the positional battles will soon be all people are talking about. While the Packers don't have many battles to figure out this year, they still have some extremely exciting ones that'll take place.
Let's take a look at six training camp battles and predict which player will win each battle.
DuJuan Harris vs. Johnathan Franklin for No. 3 Running Back
The Packers boast a talented one-two punch at running back with Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Both players proved to be extremely valuable to the offense in Green Bay last year.
However, this year the Packers could have even more depth and talent depending on who wins the battle for the No. 3 running back job. That battle will be between DuJuan Harris and Johnathan Franklin.
Harris missed all of last year with a knee injury. He was actually expected to challenge Lacy for the starting job before that injury. As for Franklin, he's a second-year player who also struggled with injuries last year. He did, however, show brief flashes of his potential when he was on the field.
What this battle is ultimately going to come down to is which player is a more dynamic option for the Packers. While Harris may have more all-around talent right now, Franklin offers more upside for the future. Throw in Harris' continuous issues with injuries, and this battle should be won by the former UCLA Bruin.
Davante Adams vs. Jarrett Boykin for No. 3 Receiver
The crazy thing about the Packer offense is that there will be games when the No. 3 receiver doesn't see as many targets as the No. 4 receiver. So, the "loser" of this battle between rookie Davante Adams and Jarrett Boykin isn't really a "loser" at all.
With that said, there needs to be someone who is that No. 3 receiver on the depth chart. Heading into this year's offseason, all signs pointed to that someone being Boykin. He played exceptionally well when he was thrown into the starting lineup last year.
Then the Packers went out and drafted Adams in the second round of this year's draft. And you simply don't spend that high of a pick on a player if you don't expect him to play a major role early in his career. Especially when that player has the overall skills and potential of Adams.
So, while Boykin is definitely talented and should see plenty of targets this year, he'll ultimately be the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart behind Adams.
Andrew Quarless vs. Every Backup Tight End for Starting Job
If you're looking for the most exciting battle in training camp for the Packers, look no further than the tight ends. Andrew Quarless is the starter right now, but he could literally be beat out by nearly every other tight end on the roster.
It's possible that Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers or Colt Lyerla could be the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart by the time training camp is over. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see one of those three players in the job.
The reason for this is because of potential. Quarless is a fine player, but he doesn't have the overall ceiling of Bostick, Rodgers and Lyerla. Those three players could all be really dynamic weapons in the Packers offense.
It's extremely bold to predict an undrafted free agent to climb so high up the depth chart, but that's what will happen with Lyerla. As long as he can stay out of trouble, he's simply too talented to not be featured in the Packers offense this year.
David Bakhtiari vs. Bryan Bulaga for Starting Left Tackle
The good thing about this battle for both David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga is that whoever loses will still have a starting job. It'll just be at the less glamorous position of right tackle.
Bulaga was actually set to become the left tackle last year before an ACL injury in training camp forced him to sit out all season. Bakhtiari was a fourth-round rookie last year who played admirably despite being forced into a difficult situation.
Now the question is whether or not the Packers want to continue with their original plan of moving Bulaga to left tackle. He's certainly talented enough to handle the switch, but it'd be a surprise to see Green Bay move in that direction.
By keeping Bulaga at right tackle, the Packers would know they have a Pro Bowl tackle on that side of the offensive line. They also wouldn't have to worry about Bakhtiari having to figure out and get comfortable with a new position.
Look for the Packers to keep Bakhtiari on the left side and Bulaga on the right side this year.
JC Tretter vs. Corey Linsley for Starting Center
While tight end might be the most exciting battle in training camp, the battle for starting center is the most important battle. Whoever ends up winning this battle will be the fourth center to start in four years for the Packers.
The good news for Green Bay is that both their options at center this year are young and should be around for years. JC Tretter is a second-year player, and Corey Linsley was drafted in the fifth round of this year's draft.
Both players have the intelligence and overall skill set to start for the Packers. However, Tretter has already been given the first shot to be the starting center. While Linsley will push him throughout training camp, it's unlikely he'll ultimately take the job from him.
Nick Perry vs. Adrian Hubbard at Outside Linebacker
One aspect of the Packers defense that'll be interesting to see in training camp is where Julius Peppers plays the majority of his snaps. Will it be outside linebacker or defensive end?
Either way, the Packers will have a nice battle for a starting job or backup job at outside linebacker between Nick Perry and undrafted free agent Adrian Hubbard. Everyone wants Perry to win this battle because everyone expects Perry to have a breakout season. However, he was expected to break out last year and be an impact rookie, but he failed to do either.
Now he has his first legitimate competition in the extremely long and athletic Hubbard. While Hubbard's still raw, he has all the tools and size that the Packers desperately want at outside linebacker.
Perry failing to live up to expectations the past two years will open the door for Hubbard to take his job. It'll happen slowly, but look for the former Alabama rookie to ultimately move past Perry on the depth chart.
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