Five Things I Hope To See in Green Bay's Training Camp

Ryan CardarellaCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 30:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As the dog days of summer come to an end and training camp is set to commence, there will finally be more to talk about than how "conflicted" Brett Favre is about trading his Wranglers in for a bright purple outfit, or how truly atrocious T.O.'s new reality show is.

That said, here are five issues that need to be resolved in Packers' training camp.


Solidifying the Backup Quarterback Spot

The quarterback situation was even more precarious entering camp last season, but the Packers are still taking a huge gamble by going with second-year signal-callers Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm as the backups to Aaron Rodgers.

Flynn and Brohm both suffered through horrendous preseasons last year, and neither player looked remotely ready to step in if Rodgers had gotten hurt.

Flynn has shown promise and coaches rave about his leadership abilities, but he hasn't proven that he has the physical tools to play in the NFL.

Brohm has yet to show anything that suggests he is an NFL-caliber quarterback, and after being overtaken on the depth chart by Flynn, he has a lot to prove in order to stick in the league.

Unless one of them takes a major step forward in their sophomore campaigns, the Packers are likely looking at a lost season if A-Rod gets nicked up.


Depth in the Secondary

Star cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson are getting a bit long in the tooth, and it remains to be seen whether they can be as effective in a 3-4 system that calls for more zone coverage as opposed to the savage man-to-man that they both excel in.

Both have had recent struggles with injury as well.

While Harris has been an iron man for most of his career, he suffered a grisly spleen injury that forced him out of four games last season, and Woodson has practiced only sparingly over the last two seasons.

If either of those two go down for a significant stretch, what do the Packers have behind them?

Tramon Williams proved to be a big-play corner for the Packers, picking off five passes last season, but corners Jarrett Bush, Will Blackmon, and Pat Lee (looking like a bust,) all struggled at times last season.

Here's hoping that the injury-prone Blackmon, who has shown off terrific athleticism as a punt returner, can stay on the field and emerge as a reliable cover corner to pair with Williams.


Someone to Seize the No. 3 Receiver Spot

This figures to be a battle between James Jones and Jordy Nelson.

Jones has all of the physical tools to be a solid receiver, but his hands leave too much to be desired.

His two critical fumbles cost Green Bay a game in 2007 against Chicago, and he drops too many balls to be a trusted target for Rodgers.

This year is a bit of a put up or shut up season for Jones, who needs to be more consistent and cash in on his potential, or potentially move on from Green Bay.

Nelson isn't really a big-play threat, but he is a big, physical possession receiver that can open up the outside for Jennings and Driver.

Look for Nelson to take the No. 3 spot and be a more reliable slot guy for Rodgers.


The Linebacking Corps Coming Together

The move to the 3-4 creates more questions at linebacker than any other spot defensively for the Pack.

Pro Bowl defensive lineman Aaron Kampman is still a bit disgruntled over the move to linebacker, and it remains to be seen whether he can be as effective rushing the passer standing up, and if he possesses the lateral quickness to avoid being exposed in coverage.

Likewise, the Packers need either rookie Clay Matthews or Brady Poppinga to quickly grasp the scheme and claim the other outside 'backer spot.

Matthews has all of the physical tools and an NFL pedigree (if that really matters,) but Poppinga played in the 3-4 at BYU and should have a leg up in terms of familiarity with the system.

Oh yeah, and it wouldn't hurt if new linebackers coach Kevin Greene can light a fire under A.J. Hawk a bit. It's time for him to earn his draft slot and be the play-making beast the Packers expected in the new defense.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers deserves the benefit of the doubt considering his stellar track record turning around defenses in Carolina, Jacksonville, and Miami.

But the pieces still need to fit, and this inconsistent group of linebackers are going to have to gel and step up for the defense to be another Capers success story.


Improving the Two-Minute Offense

This is a hard thing to prove in training camp, but the Packers were atrocious in their two-minute drills a year ago.

The Packers seemingly had an opportunity to pull out every game with a late drive, but were unable to get the job done behind an offense that was otherwise potent.

In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin called the offense "paper champions," and that the offense was "flat-out bad" on opening drives and in the two-minute offense.

I tend to agree with Philbin.

While the offense put up lots of points, and the defense deserves some heat for many of the close losses, the fact is that the Packers simply failed to execute in their two-minute drill.

That lack of execution comes back to Aaron Rodgers.

The next step for Rodgers is to show the kind of leadership and swagger that elite quarterbacks have in leading their teams to victory late in games.

Green Bay was brutal on opening drives, finishing off the first half, and closing out games in their no-huddle offense, the three most critical times in the game.

Rodgers deserves more time to evolve in that aspect, but this offense is too skilled to repeat last season's maddening end-of-game futility.

That confidence and belief is built as early as training camp. so look for Rodgers to show greater confidence and command in his second year behind center.


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