10 Things To Watch for When the Green Bay Packers Open Camp on Friday
With the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers set to open up training camp on Friday, here is a list of the top 10 things to watch for this August.
After a very long offseason (or lack thereof), the Packers are finally ready to get back to business as usual. Every year, training camp is an exciting time for the team, as you can see unknown players fight it out for roster spots. Every once in a while, one of those players turns out to be a Tramon Williams or a Frank Zombo.
This year's camp should certainly be exciting to watch. Please feel free to comment and share your opinion on the Packers' upcoming training camp.
10. Rustiness from the Lockout
The Packers should be better off here than other teams in the league. They didn't really need the offseason as much. No new schemes to install, not a lot of new players being brought in and a ton of well-rested players coming back from injury, which I will touch more on later.
That being said, they could still be a little rusty from the lack of offseason activities. We'll see if they can shake off that rustiness once they get into the swing of things. Shoudn't be much of a problem for the Pack.
9. Undrafted Rookies
The undrafted rookies shouldn't make too much of a splash this year, but of course you never know. After all, who thought Frank Zombo would end up recording the team's only sack in the Super Bowl or that Sam Shields would play the way he did? In fact, Tramon Williams was also signed as an undrafted free agent a few years back.
Don't get too excited over anyone here, but then again, you really never know.
8. Who Will Be Odd Man out at Tight End?
No doubt that Jermichael Finley will be the No. 1 option at tight end. Has there ever been a bigger no-brainer? But what happens after that?
The Packers drafted D.J. Williams out of Arkansas in the fourth round this past spring. He is a small but quick playmaker who should definitely make the team.
The player that started the majority of last year was now second-year pro Andrew Quarless. He showed some potential but was inconsistent and despite the fact that Finely only played four full games, he still finished ahead of Quarless in just about every statistical category.
That leaves us with blocking specialist Tom Crabtree. Crabtree did almost nothing this past year in terms of receiving but was the team's best blocking tight end.
I think it is between Quarles and Crabtree for the last spot and I think Quarless wins out on his potential playmaking ability.
7. Depth at Inside Linebacker
The starters here are set for many years to come. A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop should continue to hold down the fort for this top-ranked defense once as they did so well last year. The question though is who will back them up?
The Packers are parting ways with Nick Barnett and have released Brandon Chillar. Those guys were set to be the top two backups this year. The Packers drafted D.J. Smith out of Appalachian State this spring and it appears he will be the first guy off the bench as of now. They could add another player in free agency as well.
6. Who Will Start Opposite Clay Matthews?
The Packers have three real options here. They could go with last year's Opening Day starter Brad Jones, or they could go with either of last year's to standouts Frank Zombo or Erik Walden.
Zombo started in the Super Bowl and recorded the team's only sack, while Walden recorded 13 tackles and three sacks vs. the Bears in Week 17 in a close win that the Pack needed just to make the postseason. Right now, I believe Zombo will win this, but it looks to be fair game and may the best man win.
5. Aaron Rodgers
Every year in training camp we always want to see how our franchise quarterback is doing, even when we all know he is just fine. Rodgers put together a great season last year, capped off by a historically spectacular postseason run and a Super Bowl ring. He should be an early favorite for MVP this year.
It will be interesting to see if he has gotten even better this offseason, which would not surprise me in the slightest.
4. How Will the Top Draft Picks Perform?
This is always a topic of interest but I feel it is more so this year than ever. The reason for that being the fact that the lockout prevented any sort of workouts for the rookies. That means that the first practice held at camp on Saturday will be the first time these players suit up for a Green Bay Packers practice.
Some players of interest include tackle Derek Sherrod, wide receiver Randall Cobb and running back Alex Green.
3. Who Can Step Up at Defensive End?
With the likely possibility of Cullen Jenkins leaving, the Packers will need to find a replacement. Mike Neal is the likely option and it will certainly be interesting to see him play since he has had very little action so far in his short career.
For a more in-depth look, check out this article.
2. The Running Back Situation
This is mostly between Ryan Grant and James Starks on who will get the starting role. Despite that, the loser of this battle will likely see almost equal carries early on, as it should be regular-season games that really decide this.
Also, the Packers' third-round pick this spring from Hawaii, Alex Green, could get the job as the 3rd-down back. It will be interesting to see how he plays early on.
1. Players Returning from Injury
This ties into most of the other spots on this list and for good reason; the Packers had 15 players on IR last season! It will be very exciting to see some of these players back in action, especially guys like Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant. It gives this team a hungry feel to it as many players will probably approach this season like they are trying to still get their first ring since they may have felt left out last year.
Overall, this should be a very exciting training camp and a great season for the Pack. Let's keep the Lombardi Trophy where it belongs for a few more years!