Training camp can give the coaches a good idea of how players are developing and how they will fit in on the team, but the biggest test for the players are the preseason games.
With the first game of the Packers preseason coming up its time to look at some of the battles that will help shape the Packers 2010 season.
It appeared that when the Packers selected running back James Starks out of Buffalo in the fifth round of this year's draft, that the Packers had selected their number three running back as well as a possible running back of the future. However, Starks has landed on the PUP list with a hamstring injury, and may be a candidate for being placed on injured reserve.
In his place, Quinn Porter, a little known undrafted free agent out of Stillman College has been impressive in training camp, and his performance has caught the eye of Mike McCarthy who has singled out his play thus far.
In the end Porter's pre-season performance may end up meaning nothing. Last year Tyrell Sutton was impressive in the pre-season, but ended up not making the roster and being claimed by the Carolina Panthers. In 2008 running back Kregg Lumpkin opened a lot of eyes in preseason, but ended up spending most of the season on injured reserve and all of 2009 on the practice squad.
If Starks can't get healthy soon, Lumpkin and Porter should see a lot of playing time this preseason.
Jermichael Finley has been getting a lot of attention this off season, and for good reason. His combination of size, speed and hands makes him a prototypical pass catching tight end.
Behind Finley the pecking order is a little more unclear. Veteran Donald Lee does not have great hands, but is the Packers best blocking tight end. Spencer Havner is an excellent special teamer and caught seven passes last year, four of which were for touchdowns.
Tom Crabtree, who spent some of last season on the practice squad, has been impressive so far in camp and could be a contributor on special teams. And last but not least there is rookie fifth round pick Andrew Quarless who has a lot of potential but has looked very raw so far in training camp.
The Packers could keep four tight ends, but that would still mean someone on the current roster will be cut or moved to the practice squad.
Many Packer fans were excited about the signing of Sam Shields out of the University of Miami. Considered one of the fastest players in the draft, Shields went undrafted due mainly due to off field issues and the fact that he only spent one year playing corner back in college. Packer fans were hoping that Shields and his speed would help the long struggling return game.
However, it has been Shields play at corner and not special teams that has stood out so far. Shields has played pretty well in practice, using his speed to undercut passes and making an impressive interception that he returned for a touchdown during the Packers family night scrimmage.
Shields still has a long way to go before he makes the team, but he is off to a great start.
With the Packers not drafting an outside linebacker in the draft, many assumed the starting linebacker job would be given to second year player Brad Jones, but it appears the Packers are going to be giving him some competition. Brandon Chillar who last year played middle linebacker, has been moved over to outside linebacker in training camp.
Whether or not Chillar remains at outside line backer for the entire season or this is move purely due to the shortage or players at the position remains to be seen, but Chillar does provide another option for the Packers at the position.
The battle for the starting left guard spot seemed pretty straight forward at the beginning of training camp. Incumbent Daryn College would compete for the starting job with Jason Spitz, with the other four spots on the offensive line already decided.
That all changed on earlier this week when it was announced that first round pick Brian Bulaga would compete for the starting left guard spot as well. Many scouts saw Bulaga as more of a guard than a tackle in the NFL, but the Packers have insisted up until this point that they saw Bulaga as the left tackle of the future. This does not mean that he will be guaranteed the job nor does it mean he will not play left tackle in the future, but it could shake up the dynamic on the Packers offensive line.
If College does not win the job will the Packers look to try trade him for a late round draft pick, or will they be happy to keep him on as an experienced back up?
Coming out of LSU, Quinn Johnson seemed like the type of bruising full back the Packers could use to open up holes for Ryan Grant, but he saw the field rarely in his first year. With the possibility of the Packers keeping three full backs on the roster again this year being very slim, Johnson will be fighting for a roster spot over the next few preseason games.
Kuhn and Hall are superior special teamers and at least offer a little threat on the offensive side of the ball, where as Johnson seems to be just a powerful blocker who at times still has problems making the right blocks.
There is no real competition for the number two quarterback spot, that job will go to third year pro Matt Flynn, but it will interesting to see how much he has progressed and if actually looks like he would be capable of leading the Packers to a few victories in the regular season if needed.
Third string quarter back Graham Harrell has not been particularly impressive so far in training camp and may need a good preseason to even make the practice squad.
At this time it still appears to be a dead heat between punters Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan. Before training camp there was some speculation that the Packers would bring in a veteran punter to replace both Masthay and Bryan, but at this point I believe the Packers will stick with whoever has the better preseason of the two currently on the roster.
My gut feeling tells me Masthay will end up with the job, but it could still go either way depending on what happens in the preseason.
Jackson opened some eyes during the Packers family night, returning a kickoff return for a touchdown, a skill we had not seen out of Jackson so far.
At this point Jackson seems firmly entrenched in the number two running back spot, but will he become a legitimate threat on offense rather than just third down back with good blocking skills?
With Atari Bigby sidelined with an injury, rookie Morgan Burnett looks like he will be the opening day starter. Whether or not Bigby is given a chance to win his job back during the year will largely depend on Burnett's play.
Also worth keeping an eye on this offseason will be the competition at corner back. With Al Harris doubtful for week one, Tramon Williams should be the starter alongside Charles Woodson. But the battle for the next spot on the roster between Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee should be interesting to watch.