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3 Green Bay Packers to watch early in training camp

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3 Green Bay Packers to watch early in training camp

In just a few days, the Green Bay Packers will open training camp and we'll all be sitting at work, constantly refreshing Twitter to see which players are standing out, which players are struggling, and which players are injured.

Live-tweets from NFL training camps might be one of the most pointless exercises in the entire universe, but I can't help myself. As soon as my timeline starts lighting up about a Packers undrafted free agent who is shining or a veteran who may have lost a step, I get sucked in and start following along.

When this inevitably happens a few days from now, here are three Packers players I'll be paying particular attention to:

LB Clay Matthews
Is he lining up inside? Outside? What's the ratio? Does he look healthy? How's he holding up in pass coverage drills? Is he spending more time on pass rush moves or adding volume to his hair? 

RB John Crockett
Will he live up to the fair amount of offseason hype he received? Is he getting enough carries behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks to really show what he can do? Could he contribute on special teams? Since he went to North Dakota State, does he talk like the people in the move "Fargo?"

B.J. Raji
Does he look as good in camp as he did in last year's camp before the injury? How is playing strictly at nose tackle helping him? How is it helping the defense overall? How is Raji complementing Letroy Guion? Might we see Raji line up as a fullback in certain goal-line situations? 

Bonus person to watch:

HC MIke McCarthy
Is he serious about giving up playcalling? What's he doing differently at practice now that he's not calling plays? What is he doing to shore up the special teams? WIll he keep the beard or shave it before the season starts?
 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

ejr450's picture

My 3 to watch are:
1) Hayward - can he practice without getting hurt, and if so, can he hold down the job opposite Shields

2) Barrington - was the end of last year legit, or was it wishful thinking from all of us?

3) Montgomery - we hope he is truly the answer on KR. Can he add to the offense too?

Evan's picture

Good list.

WKUPackFan's picture

I'd advise MM to lose the beard, but I reckon that's up to Ms.McCarthy.

Very optimistic about the playcalling change, not that I disliked MM in that role. Feel like the plays wiil get in faster, giving AR more time to adjust at the line. There were way too many times last year when AR had to use the entire play clock to get in the correct pre-snap set.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I expect them to use Matthew s in a pretty vanilla fashion in camp and preseason. He will line up inside and out, but there won't be much to see.

Raji always looks good in camp. He's looked really good in camp before and then had a lousy season afterwards.

To me following the progress of the rookies and second year players is going to be much more interesting.

Has Richard Rodgers blocking improved?
Has Haha's form breaking down for a tackle gotten better?
Is Davante the first read on more passing plays?
Do the rookie corners have natural coverage ability?
Has Janis learned to extend his hands and pluck the ball in order to be able to utilize his range?

And also
Who is the leader of that corner group?
Does Hayward look healthy and ready for full-time action?

adamczech's picture

I like your list better than mine, Jeremy.

RCPackerFan's picture

Honestly more then anything I am excited to see how the 2nd year players look. Last year we essentially had 4 rookie starters. And the rest basically redshirted.

I am excited to see how each player improves in year 2.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - He had his ups and downs, but he kept improving as the season wore on. That final game even though he had some mistakes he showed why he was a first round pick, and why he has a bright future.

Davante Adams - In 2 of the bigger games last year Adams really took over. In his second year in the offense he should be able to play more then think about what he's doing. With Cobb and Nelson, Adams could make this unit very, very hard to stop.

Richard Rodgers - Like Clinton-Dix, Rodgers improved as the season wore on. His blocking definitely needs improving, and hopefully that will come in year 2. But towards the end of the season he started to become a target for Rodgers. We don't need Rodgers to be a Finley type of player. If he can be a Heath Miller type that will do a lot for our offense. If he can become a short yardage and Red zone threat, that will improve our offense.

Corey Linsley - Thompsons best draft pick last year. He honestly should have been considered for Offensive Rookie of the year. He solidified the OL. His only real problem last year was that he was to strong for his own good. He had a quite a few holding penalty's called on him because he basically threw aside the Defensive player. I expect a pro bowl level of play from him in year 2.

The redshirt players.

Jeff Janis / Jared Abbrederis - Both players could make an impact on the team. Janis probably has the best size/speed ratio on offense. He just needs to show he can play on this level. Abbrederis was coming on strong until he tore his ACL. How he comes back from that will decide how he does in year 2.

Thornton - He is a player the Packers really need to take a step in year 2. You expect to get some playing time out of 3rd round draft picks.

Bradford - With a full year to learn the ILB position, he has a chance to earn some playing time. He looked a lot more comfortable playing ILB. He is another player they need to get playing time out of.

Goodson - If he can replace Bush as the all special teams player that will be good. We need to have more special teams players.

Tundraboy's picture

Excellent list and view on some of the second year guys.

RCPackerFan's picture

Honestly, the development of our second year players is what will take our team to the top. We need them to take a step up this year.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm watching players I don't know much about. Since ejr450 already mentioned Hayward and Raji here would be three I'm real interested to see what the bring.

1.) Randell... I kinda "Grew" into liking the Randell pick, but I thought the pick for the Packers in the 1st round was Malcom Brown. If this kid shines and someone else picks up the slack on the DL fine.

2.) Bradford... "Plays like his hairs on fire", that's what one scout said about Bradford before last years draft. Every "Expert" suggested the Packers got a major steal in Bradford, last year not so much.

3.) Thornton... The Packers HAVE to have a D-Lineman step up, especially for the first few games depending on results from appeals. Something made Ted draft take this guy in the 3rd round when it seemed everyone else would have waited until the 7th.

3B.) Sorry guys, cheated here but I want to see how they use Montgomery. I'm thinking the Packers use him as a a Hybrid WR/RB, mostly WR but in order to keep Abby and the Ripper, they can't keep another RB like Crockett or Neal. Really hope Abby hasn't lost a step.

Jersey Al's picture

The pick for the Packers in first round should have been Stephone Anthony, but I do think Randall will turn out to be an important piece...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Didn't we have this thread already? I have to disagree: it should have been Malcom Brown.

Nick Perry's picture

I liked Anthony too Al but it always scares me a little when they jump up draft boards based on Combine results and Anthony really jumped didn't he Al?

Jersey Al's picture

some guys jump for good reason. I felt he "got discovered" a bit late, and thus it seemed like a big jump rather than a gradual one. We shall see...

Spud Rapids's picture

Good list... my thoughts:

Randall excites me... I think Thompson picked him knowing Capers has been looking to try fill the Woodson/Collins void with a versatile DB that's a ball hawk. We haven't had anyone back their that could turn momentum in the secondary like those two used to.

I thought Bradford was dinged up last year.... combine that with the position change it ILB and I think he basically had a redshirt year. I see some pundits saying he won't make the roster.

Same goes for Thornton, we all know he ended up on IR but once again I think with the ability of Thompson to bring in UDFA's he may end up on the chopping block as well.

Montgomery's biggest contribution might come out of the backfield.... last year the Pack moved the ball on Seattle using Cobb in the backfield. The only problem was you took your #2 WR off the line of scrimmage. I think Montgomery's addition allows that wrinkle to play out with Cobb staying on the line thus enhancing the package.

RCPackerFan's picture

'Montgomery's biggest contribution might come out of the backfield.... last year the Pack moved the ball on Seattle using Cobb in the backfield. The only problem was you took your #2 WR off the line of scrimmage. I think Montgomery's addition allows that wrinkle to play out with Cobb staying on the line thus enhancing the package.'

Completely agree. I think that is one of the reasons why they drafted him. They had success with Cobb out of the backfield but didn't really have anyone else to play the slot. Now with Montgomery possibly playing Cobb's role in the backfield, Cobb can play the slot more or vise versa.
New England had a lot of success with their slot WR's against Seattle. Right now the team to beat in the NFC is Seattle and if Montgomery can add another dimension to the offense it will be tough for any defense to stop them.

One thing the Packers still can use is a faster/change of pace type of RB who can be a good receiver out of the backfield to compliment Lacy and Starks power. Montgomery could be that guy.

Nick Perry's picture

Exactly, between Edelman, Amandola, and Vereen, that quickness gave Seattle problems. A lot of motion, Cobb or Montgomery coming out of the backfield with a 2 way break is a huge advantage. Some have said Montgomery is not fast enough. At his Pro Day he dropped 10 pounds from his combine weight down to 211 and ran a 4.38. I'd say that's plenty fast.

RCPackerFan's picture

I haven't seen where they said he wasn't fast enough. I think he ran around a 4.5 40 at the combine if I remember right. His game is more based on quickness. Similar to Cobb.

I really think the way the Patriots attacked Seattle is what Green Bay is going to try to do. They have Cobb for the slot already. Add in possibly Abbrederis, and Montgomery with the option of Montgomery or Cobb moving to the backfield and its a different look then what they have had.

Another option to keep an eye on is Neal becoming the 3rd down back. This offseason he showed off his hands. Keep an eye on him as a possible 3rd down back. Which if he could be that 3rd down back that would allow them to use Montgomery and Cobb both in the slot.

Nick Perry's picture

Your right, he did run a 4.5. It seems nowadays though if they don't run a sub 4.4 they aren't considered fast, that's just my opinion though. At the combine he ran a 4.5 and weighed 221. At his Pro Day he weighted 211 and ran a 4.38. Personally I think 4.5 is and 221 might be better, especially if they use him like you and I think they might. But you are right, his game is about quickness more than speed. I hope Monty is as smart as they say an picks up the offense quickly. At least enough to run some packages we think the Packers will run with him.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

4.5 is fast enough. Just look at Jordy.

RCPackerFan's picture

If they use him in the backfield more I would like to see him be a bit bigger. In the 215-220 range. Even if he is still in the 4.4-4.5 range he will be able to beat most LB's and Safety's.
that being said even at 210 he would still be bigger then a quite a few RB's. Franklin was around 205 when he came to Green Bay.

'I hope Monty is as smart as they say an picks up the offense quickly.'
I remember hearing that the coaches were really impressed with how much he picked up the offense especially without him being there very much. I remember reading it somewhere not long ago too.

Spud Rapids's picture

FYI if anyone mentions wildcat with Cobb or Montgomery I might throw up

Handsback's picture

I'm looking at the OLB group....Hubbard, Elliot, and Mulumba. One of those guys, maybe two need to shine.

dobber's picture

Agreed. If one of those guys becomes a meaningful contributor, the Packers have helped themselves considerably. I'd put my money on Elliott.

D.D. Driver's picture

Elliot all the way. Was his performance last training camp a fluke and is he ready to contribute when the games mean something?

ejr450's picture

I forgot about Hubbard. He's full of potential. Can he realize it? Hope so. If he can we won't have to take an OLB early next year. The 32nd pick is always a rough one to guess

Tundraboy's picture

Likewise. Glad to see I am not the first to mention Hubbard, I get a lot of flack here at times simply mentioning his name.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

My list is by position:

1) CB: Hayward +1 young CB;
2) ILB: Rookie needs to step up;
3) WR: Need a #3 and #4 WR.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Barrington

Davante Adams

Casey Hayward

RCPackerFan's picture

This is a good list. While I appreciate Crockett, he may struggle to beat out Neal. Neal could surprise some people this year. I think he was on his way to making the 53 last year until he got hurt.

For me the 3 players I am watching are...

Quinten Rollins - He was the most intriguing player in the draft. If he comes in and plays at a high level he could earn the starting spot opposite of Shields.

Davante Adams - When you hear Rodgers talking about him you can't help but get excited for his potential. If he can be as good as what we have been hearing this offseason it will make our offense even more dangerous. Defenses can slow down Nelson and Cobb, but if they have to focus on a 3rd WR, it makes it almost impossible to cover everyone.

Ty Montgomery - He was drafted to be a return man and to be another Cobb. One of Cobb's best attributes is his versatility. That's something that Montgomery looks like he can do very well also. Like Cobb he has the ability to line up in the backfield. His size might make him a better threat to run the ball. Also with Cobb already in the slot, defenses won't be able to focus on Montgomery as much if he is lined up in the backfield. If Montgomery can come in and earn a role on offense, he could add a new dimension to the offense. One that will make it very hard to stop the offense.

LeagueObsrvr's picture

I hope McCarthy keeps the beard. It gives him that 'Wisconsin North Woods' kind of look! ;-)

Evan's picture

100%. The beard is fantastic.

Idiot Fan's picture

As I read every list posted above me, I find myself saying, "Yes! I'm pumped to see that too!" I'm so excited for camp to start. It feels like Christmas Eve!

Tundraboy's picture

I am so excited, I will be watching everyone this year. But if 3 they would be.

Rollins

Bradford

Hubbard.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Quick statement - Tretter has become an afterthought

RCPackerFan's picture

sort of?
But not really. He will be one of our top 2 backups. He could be one of the most important guys on the roster to be honest. If an injury occurs to the OL, we will need him to fill in and perform well.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I wasn't saying he's not talented.

No doubt that he's going to be first or second off the bench in case of injury. But it's crazy how we all thought and hoped he would be the savior at Center and now he isn't even mentioned. I guess that's a testament to Linsley's damn good start out the gate.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, Linsley definitely made him an afterthought in terms of being the starting center. Linsley played so well last year we can definitely understand why.
Tretter may not be the starter we thought he would be right now, but I do expect him to play some meaningful time.

ejr450's picture

He's become an afterthought but in a good way. It's that way because Linsley made it so. That said I agree he's the top back up at 3 OL spots and needs to be much more functional than Lane Taylor was. The NO game still bothers me watching 65 get pushed backwards.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Absolutely.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree that Tretter is the top back-up at C. There is no evidence that he can play OG or RT or LT and there is some that he is deficient at OG. He might well develop this season, his third in the NFL. IMO Barclay if healthy is the top back-up at LG, RG, and RT. I'm pulling for Tretter and/or Rotherham to displace Barclay at least at OG and hopefully at RT.

DrealynWilliams's picture

@Reynoldo I thought Tretter was a T in college -- or am I thinking of someone else?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Tretter played TE his first 2 years and then switched to LT for his last 2 years, all at Cornell. Scouting reports suggested that he would have to move inside in the NFL due to lack of length (6'3.5" tall with 33 3/8th inch long arms) and lack of core strength. He seems to me to have tackle feet and balance, though. As you know, many OGs were tackles in college, but it doesn't mean they can play OT in the NFL. Lang, Sitton and Colledge were OTs in college (Spitz was a guard in college). The exception in recent packers' history appears to be Newhouse, who played a lot of guard in college and was moved to OT.

MarkinMadison's picture

I didn't figure that Lindsley would be ready to go year 1, game 1. There were definitely a couple of mistakes. And yes, he did dominate so thoroughly that he got tagged with a couple of holding calls, but they were basically b.s. calls. I think he'll get the benefit of the doubt this year. I just can't see where he goes anywhere but forward. And the most exciting thing to me is that he and Bakh could be the core of an extremely good offensive line for the next 10 years. Incredible pick by TT.

Allan Murphy's picture

Chilax !!!!!!!

Imma Fubared's picture

My three - Dix does he show up this year and play the position? Way too many mistakes last year.
Perry - does he show up and become the one pick performer he should have been
The two d backs. Can they learn quick enough to show up what is to be a very weak pass defense.

I still say teams won't run on the packers they will pass as long as it gets them moving down field. Raji may not have a lot to do this year.

4thand1's picture

Offensive coordinator
Defensive "
Special teams coach.

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