Green Bay Packers: 5 Young Guys Who Will Have Big Impact in 2012
The Green Bay Packers have been one of the youngest teams in the NFL over the last few seasons. They are unlikely to be in that position again this year as the team has gotten older and matured. Despite having a number of established veterans, there are plenty of opportunities for young players to have an impact.
The Packers were one of the most talented teams in the league last season so it will be hard for young players to crack the lineup. There is more potential for young players to break out on the defense, which struggled through last season. Training camp provides the opportunity for the young guys to get their name into the mix for the upcoming season.
After little action during his rookie season before tearing his ACL, Alex Green is back in camp with good health. He spent the entire spring rehabbing and has been cleared to practice.
Green has shown little sign of being hindered in any way by the injury so far in camp. He was given a practice off to rehab and test out his knee, but that's normal for a player returning from a major injury.
Green's impact will be felt in a part of the game where the Packers were far from consistent. He has decent size and explosiveness in the running game.
With the limited carries Packers running backs get, Green can be a threat on any play. He should also contribute in the passing game. At Hawaii, he was asked to pass protect and catch passes out of the backfield quite a bit.
For much of the 2011 season, Davon House was on the game-day inactive list. This offseason, the Packers cornerback situation is certainly up in the air.
Tramon Williams is a definite starter on one side, but the spot opposite him is undetermined. Charles Woodson will continue to play his free-roaming position near the slot. That leaves House, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush and rookie Casey Hayward fighting for the spot.
House has made noise early on in camp, getting a good number of reps with the No. 1 defense. He has generally made the most of his opportunities, but will need to do so continually to get playing time on Sundays. The rest of camp and preseason games will decide who gets to start at corner, but House is off to a good start.
While it feels Morgan Burnett has been around longer than two seasons, the young safety is entering only his third season in the league and has only played 20 games. Burnett has started every game for the Packers during that span. He was at his best playing alongside Nick Collins, but with Collins' departure, the play-making burden falls on Burnett.
Burnett has shown glimpses of his ability throughout his NFL career, but also has his fair share of questionable plays. While a lot is expected of Burnett, it's important to remember that he has played just over a full season of game action.
Burnett has been good in camp, particularly in a practice earlier this week including intercepting passes, hitting hard and forcing fumbles.
In light of Packers' troubles on the defensive line, they drafted Jerel Worthy in the second round in hopes of bolstering the unit. With the suspensions of Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove, Worthy will have a chance early on to prove he his capable of adding something to the unit.
So far in camp, Worthy's biggest contribution the defensive line has to be the energy he brings to the table. He has been described as a guy who just loves playing football. That type of attitude is contagious and a necessary addition to the Packers.
Some players may have been content last season coming off a Super Bowl victory. Worthy adds an energetic presence to the practice field and locker room even if he doesn't make a huge impact on the field.
No surprise here as Randall Cobb had a decent impact during his rookie season last year. His impact was felt mostly on special teams as the he provided the Packers with a rare talent in the return game. So far in camp, Cobb has been much better than last year in the receiving game.
With an improved knowledge of the playbook, Cobb may force his way onto the field as a receiver. He offers a unique skill set as he is smaller and quicker than the other receivers on the roster. The quickness and high football IQ will also allow the Packers to get creative in order to get the ball into Cobb's hands in space.