This weekend the Green Back Packers embarked on their latest training camp in preparation for the upcoming season. Due to CBA rules, the first two practices are glorified OTA practices, and with the pads finally going on tomorrow, real football can begin in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Before that happens, here are some story lines I will be following during the remaining 19 practices of pre-season.
- Talent Overload at WR & TE
Not a surprise to anyone... the Packers are loaded with guys who can catch the ball, and of course having Aaron Rodgers helps significantly. 17 receivers and tight ends are competing for their spot on the 53 man roster. The coaching staff have their hands full giving out enough reps for everyone to show they belong. While shortened practice schedules can make it harder for new guys to stand out, there is certainly plenty of time for guys to take clear steps back. Colt Lyerla is on the fast track to not making it past the first cut as he has proven unreliable during the team's first two practices.
- A Vocal Leader Emerges
Mike Daniels is backing up his off-season talk of his desire to be a vocal leader on the defense. It started with some great interviews during OTAs and now we are seeing it in action. On the team's second practice he taunted the offense about what to expect once the pads come on and then continued to talk to his teammate Raji on the sideline. We don't know what he said, but word from the media was that it didn't look too friendly. Mike Daniels wants accountability and will make noise to see results. It is still too early to tell how it will resonate, but you have to love Mike's emergence as a leader on this team.
- Hayward & Hyde
The back-end of this defense improves greatly when both of these guys are on the field. Hayward and Hyde have both excelled during the first weekend of training camp. They are instinctive football players that our coaching staff plan to put in the best positions to make plays. I am excited to see them on the field together during the pre-season games. Hayward being and staying healthy coupled with Hyde's improvement defending in the open field could make this one of the most talented defensive backfields in the league.
- LB Spots up for Grabs
Clay and Julius appear entrentched as our starting outside linebackers, but training camp is just getting started. We know we will be seeing more packages and less plays so that probably means more linebackers. This changes the dynamics of depth charts by position a little bit. It will come down to who are the best linebackers inside and outside that we have on this team. Who are the most versatile? Lattimore is expected to be available and effective moving around formations and 2nd year player Barrington is expected to make that jump the coaching staff always talk about. How will Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba fair against new competition waiting in the wings. To me, linebacker is the most intriguing position to watch this training camp.
As pre-season rolls along, I will put out more blog posts covering the story lines and competitions that intrigue me the most, and as always, would love to hear your takes. Thanks for reading!