Packers Players to Watch Ahead of Preseason Week 1

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 11, 2021

Packers Players to Watch Ahead of Preseason Week 1

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers' preseason will be all about Jordan Love. 

    On Tuesday, head coach Matt LaFleur said quarterback Aaron Rodgers will "most likely not" see any action in the preseason, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

    Love will be the main attraction for Green Bay's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, but there are other positions to watch on Saturday.

    Rookie wide receiver Amari Rodgers could receive snaps alongside Love. The Clemson product is competing to move up the depth chart, and a strong preseason could help him open the regular season in a decent-sized role. 

    Green Bay also needs to sort out the back end of its running back depth chart beneath Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. It has a mix of young players fighting for that role, and they should be on full display at Lambeau Field. 

Jordan Love

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Love has a chance to show Green Bay fans why he was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. 

    With no preseason games last season, the 22-year-old was unable to show what he could do on the field in some form of the Packers offense. 

    Of course, LaFleur will not be throwing the entire offensive playbook at the Texans on Saturday, but you can still take something away from Love's performance. 

    If anything, a strong preseason would be a confidence-builder for the player who has sat behind Aaron Rodgers and been a topic of the quarterback discourse in Green Bay since he was selected to no fault of his own. 

    At the end of preseason, the Utah State product will go back to the backup role and be ready in an emergency situation.

    Since Green Bay has not seen what Love would look like in that hypothetical worst-case scenario, the entire preseason serves as a way to gauge the comfort level of the player in the offense, the coaching staff with him and the fanbase with his skill level. 

Amari Rodgers

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    It seems safe to assume Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will occupy the first two spots on the wide receiver depth chart. 

    After that, the Packers can choose from Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Devin Funchess and Amari Rodgers. 

    The 2021 draft pick is the most intriguing member of that group when you look at the depth chart through the preseason lens because he has not played any NFL snaps. 

    The 21-year-old has a chance to boost his stock and compete for playing time with the veteran wideouts who may see a smaller work load in preseason to remain fresh for Week 1. 

    Rodgers' ceiling is the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, but it will take him some time to earn the trust of his namesake at quarterback to reach that point. 

    However, the Clemson product can give Love a reliable target during reps with the first-team offense, and he can add value in the return game as well. 

    Rodgers' floor is the bottom of the depth chart when it is finalized, but if he takes full advantage of the opportunity, he will be closer to his ceiling come September. 

Reserve Running Backs

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    The Packers did not need a single preseason snap to determine the first two spots on their running back depth chart. 

    In reality, once Aaron Jones re-signed with the team in free agency, it was written in Sharpie that he and A.J. Dillon would be the running back duo for 2021. 

    The No. 3 spot on the depth chart is up for grabs, though, and it should give us one of the best positional competitions of the Packers' preseason.

    Kylin Hill, Dexter Williams and Patrick Taylor will all be fighting for that spot, and LaFleur said last week "there's going to be a lot of opportunities" for each player, per Demovsky.

    Williams has seven carries for 19 yards in his two NFL seasons, Taylor was on the reserve/non-injury list for most of 2020, and Hill comes to Green Bay after a successful career at Mississippi State. 

    All three running backs are under 25 years old and could bring something to the squad if Jones or Dillon goes down at some point during the regular season.

    The 17th game on the schedule could also lead to some load management throughout games for the Packers. If there is a heavy workload, LaFleur and his staff could rotate in a third back just to keep Jones and Dillon fresh in some spots. 

    The extra wear on the running backs' legs could make the No. 3 spot on the depth chart important moving forward. The Packers' situation is a true open competition.