Five Position Battles to Watch Once the Packers OpenTraining Camp

Training camp is (hopefully) just a few weeks away and like most teams, the Green Bay Packers have several positions up for grabs once the team gathers and starts to prepare for the 2020 season.

Here is a look at five position battles to expect for the Packers once rookies and veterans report later this month:

5. Backup Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers is the starter and Jordan Love will be on the roster, but is he ready to be Rodgers’ backup? The reduced offseason and a truncated preseason will make it tougher for Love to be ready to play if Rodgers were suddenly unavailable.

Tim Boyle is practice squad eligible and that may be the easiest solution, but if Love isn’t ready or if Boyle has a very strong camp, the Packers may have to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster to start the 2020 season.

4. Slot Cornerback

The Packers still haven’t re-signed Tramon Williams who had a consistent season last year as the team’s nickel cornerback. Williams could be brought back which would give him a good chance to retain this job again this season.

If Williams doesn’t return, Chandon Sullivan is the favorite when camp opens. Sullivan took a big step forward last year and was effective as the Packers dime back. Is he ready to take the next step and take over in the slot?

Other possibilities include giving Jaire Alexander or Darnell Savage some time in the slot, although that would require other players to take over at their usual positions.

Josh Jackson has also been mentioned by Mike Pettine as a possible candidate for the nickel corner or slot corner spots but his lack of speed may hinder that. Jackson is better in zone coverage than in man coverage.

Pettine likes to keep offenses off balance so expect several players to get reps at this position over the course of the season, but the Packers will have to sort out the depth chart in training camp.

3. Inside Linebacker

If he’s healthy, Christian Kirksey is the starter at one ILB position, but who earns the other spot that was occupied by B.J. Goodson last season? Oren Burks probably enters camp as the favorite but Curtis Bolton, Ty Summers and rookie fifth-round pick Kamal Martin are all in the mix.

The Packers also often like to use a hybrid safety/linebacker at this position a lot so Raven Greene and Will Redmond may also get some playing time here.

This may be the most wide-open battle in camp with a lot of players fighting for one open position. For Burks, this may be his last chance to claim a starting job on defense while guys like Bolton, Summers and Martin are all out to prove they are good enough to play in this league.  

2. Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position is wide open and it’s not clear who will assume what role once you get past Davante Adams as the clear cut WR1.

Allen Lazard had a strong finish to the season and enters camp as the incumbent to start opposite Adams. Lazard has good size, runs good routes and has worked hard to improve his game. His hands need a little improvement, but he has shown the ability to convert key third downs and has earned Rodgers’ trust.

Free agent addition Devin Funchess has a similar body type to Lazard and is looking to get his career back on track after playing in just one regular season game with Indianapolis a year ago.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the Packers fastest receiver but his playing time was greatly reduced after an early season injury and inconsistent play.

Equanimeous St. Brown is back and looking to resume his career after spending all of 2019 on the injured reserve. Jake Kumerow will also fight for playing time and a roster spot.

Wild cards in this competition include former CFL star Reggie Begelton, who has impressed a lot of people during virtual OTAs and undrafted free agent Darrell Stewart out of Michigan State.

The Packers need to find a reliable slot receiver and create a mix of skill sets among their final receiving corps.

The Packers will likely keep six receivers but the role of five of them is still very much up in the air.

1. Right Guard and Right Tackle

The right side of the offensive line has plenty of unanswered questions as the team prepares for training camp. Billy Turner is the incumbent starter at right guard but former starter Lane Taylor may challenge him for playing time.

Meanwhile, free agent signee Ricky Wagner is the favorite to start at right tackle after the departure of Bryan Bulaga via free agency. Taylor and Turner may also get a look at right tackle in camp with big Yosh Nijman also figuring in the competition.

Because of the versatility of many of the Packers offensive linemen, Matt LaFleur has several options on the right side of the line. But because continuity is a big factor on the offensive line, he may find his choices more limited because of the truncated offseason and preseason.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

NFL Categories: 
6 points

Comments (54)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
CheesyTex's picture

July 11, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Hope you are right about Nijman. Other sites see him as practice squad, but if he can put it together with all that size and athleticism... Even if he could hit "NFL average lineman" in ability this year that would be a huge boost for the OL.

+ REPLY
5 points
6
1
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 01:14 pm

Thanks for the comment, CheesyTex. I hope Nijman can take a step forward and earn a roster spot. He has great size and tools. The o-line has a lot of potential depth and hopefully the right side gets straightened out before the season starts.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fordguy's picture

July 11, 2020 at 04:11 pm

If you Google Yosh Nijman you might be surprised to find a picture of Big Bob (Robert) Tonyan instead of Nijman.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 04:13 pm

SMH. Go figure. Thanks for commenting, fordguy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

July 11, 2020 at 06:30 pm

Racist Google..... :-) heh heh heh ....

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
Leatherhead's picture

July 11, 2020 at 01:42 pm

The right side of the line is better than it’s been in a long time. Wagner and Turner are hardened vets who we acquired after watching their tape against Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr.. Lane Taylor is a hardened vet backup. I don’t recall the last time we had two proven vets backed up by a guy like Taylor.

In fact.... I think this line is probably the best we’ve had since around 2003.. Maybe this one is deeper. I think the Packers have done a good job of replacing the line that Gutekunst inherited with two vet FAs and one premium draft choice. More change after this season.

+ REPLY
-2 points
3
5
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 02:01 pm

The depth is obviously there, especially in a year or two when our draft picks from this year show what they can do. At least one of the three should become contributors. The big question is how well the starters will play. I love the depth and the potential of the right side of the line. Wagner has played well in the past but has to get back to that level and stay healthy. Thanks for the comment, Leatherhead.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

Having alot of bodies doesn't equal depth. Nijman has never been good at any level. And Light proved beyond a doubt he's in over his head. Neither is a viable backup OT. No depth at OT whatsoever. Only possibility is worth talking about is Veldheer. They will surely have him on speed dial.

Pretty good depth inside with Taylor and Patrick along with 3 draft picks.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
taarons420's picture

July 12, 2020 at 01:29 pm

Runyan, Turner, Taylor can all play tackle in a pinch.
If your measuring stick for an OL group is how many starting - level OT's it has... well... then no OL in the NFL is any good.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:38 pm

At best they might get you thru a game where the injury occurs. But there is no way the Packers would want any of them to start games the following week(s).

A backup OT should at least be able to start if he's given help on occasion or more. But that limits other offensive option immensely. Taylors only experience is the one game Bahktiari missed. Turner is a decent starting OG, but was much worse in previous opportunities at OT. Runyan is a rookie and no NFL team would want to count on a 6th rd pick to start any games at OT.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:53 pm

They can all play in a pinch and so could Jenkins if needed. Whether any of them would be a long-term answer is another questions, obviously. Thanks for the comment, taarons420.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ricky's picture

July 11, 2020 at 01:48 pm

As far as backup QB, if the practice squad rules are more relaxed, it would be easier to stash Boyle there, and bring him back more easily. And this doesn't even include the possibility of a larger group of eligible players for each game for more insurance against Covid positives. At WR, perhaps MVS could become the new Adams, looking good his first year, getting hurt and therefore looking like a bust, then he emerges this year. Same with ESB. As far as the right side of the line goes, that is the true weakness of the offense at this point. Hopefully both Turner and (Hooch) Wagner can be replaced in the early going with better options. Particularly if Taylor can come back strong, that would allow Turner to be the backup, and hopefully Nijman can show he is ready to become the next Bulaga- without the injury problems. It's time to be optimistic!

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 02:04 pm

I agree re: Boyle and mentioned that in the article although if he is on the practice squad, another team can sign him to their active roster at any time. That is a risk the Packers have to decide they are or are not ready to take.
At WR, there are plenty of players with potential to step up, but one or more of them have to do it. I love the potential of MVS and EQ but let's see them do it.
I hope they get the right side of the line straightened out. Two quality starters have to emerge whether it's Wagner and Turner or Lane or Nijman or another player on the roster. Will be an interesting situation, looking forward to camp. Thanks for the comment, ricky.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:44 pm

MVS is lacking the ability to gain separation and the hands to be an NFL WR. Adams had both in spades the day he entered the NFL. MVS will not be anything like Adams was in yr 3. Mvs is as close to being out of the league as he is to just making the roster.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:54 pm

This is his make or break year. If he has a poor camp and other players step up, MVS could be gone. If he does take a step forward and raises his game, he could be a part of the WR group and see the field regularly. I know the Packers would love to utilize his speed but he has to prove he can get the job done.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 13, 2020 at 03:26 pm

Problem is MVS doesn't know how to use his speed. The Packers surely would like to use it, but that depends on MVS learning how and developing all the other WR skills. So far he has no clue whatsoever!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Dzehren's picture

July 11, 2020 at 02:08 pm

GB is not paying Billy Turner 8M to be a back up guard.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 02:12 pm

That is true. If he doesn't win the starting job, he could be a cap casualty or they could seek to restructure his deal. I think he starts, but we shall see how things play out when training camp gets under way. Thanks for the comment, Dzehren.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Leatherhead's picture

July 11, 2020 at 03:52 pm

Exactly. Follow the money and it pretty much lays out who the starters are, and we aren’t going to cut a proven offensive lineman when the #1 objective is keeping Rodgers clean and healthy.

That’s also why I’m pretty confident that Patrick sticks, too. 8, 9, 10....I don’t know who these guys are right now but I’m hoping that Leglue sticks..

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 04:11 pm

What do you like most about Leglue? I think he has some potential but the backup OL is getting crowded with all those picks.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

July 12, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Here’s some intel on Leglue. He’s really a big dude, a legit 6’6” and over 300 pounds with a trim waist and massive arms.’ Even in the huddle this guy looks bigger than everyone.. he’s actually kind of built like a young Reggie White.

We snatched him off the Saints practice squad in late December, which to me signals that 1265 wanted him to come to camp this year and to spend time working out, learning the offense, etc.

Leading up to the 2019 draft,, he was advertised as a tough, smart, hardworking, dude and that one of his biggest pluses was his versatility.

Considering we’ll keep about 11 OL, I think he’s got a great shot

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 06:27 pm

The 3 late draft picks may prevent him from making the roster although we do need a swing tackle. Will depend on how he and Nijman and a few other players look in camp

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fordguy's picture

July 11, 2020 at 04:22 pm

He was by far the weakest link on the line last year, so regardless of how much he's getting paid if anyone's playing better they will get the job.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

July 11, 2020 at 04:24 pm

He was the weakest of the starters, but the other four guys all had very good seasons or better. I agree with you, fordguy that the best players will get to start.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
taarons420's picture

July 11, 2020 at 05:36 pm

I don't think there are going to be too many position battles.
Only starting spot still open is slot corner... and that's going to be Sullivan.

I don't even think there will be that many roster battles.

OL(9)
Bakhtiari, Jenkins,Linsley,Turner,Wagner
Patrick,Hansen,Runyan,Taylor
TE(4)
Sternberger,Deguara,Lewis,Tonyan
WR(6)
Adams,Lazard,Funchess,MVS,St Brown,Kumerow
RB(4)
Jones,Williams,Dillon,Ervin
QB(3)
Rodgers,Love,Boyle

DL(6)
Clark,Lowry,Lancaster,Keke,Hester,Adams
ILB(5)
Kirksey,Burks,Summers,Bolton,Martin
OLB(4)
Smith,Smith,Gary,Garvin
S(4)
Amos,Savage,Greene,Redmond
CB(5)
Alexander,King,Sullivan,Hollman,Jackson
ST(3)
Crosby,Scott,Bradley

Maybe add another CB (Ento?) and drop an ILB (Bolton?)
PS - Williams is not going to be a Packer unless there's an injury.
If they wanted him... they would already have him.

+ REPLY
1 points
3
2
Slim11's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:19 am

Who are #52 and #53?

I think Ervin is carried on the roster as a RS, but will also be used as a RB/WR/gadget player. I think there will a 10th OL in Stepniak unless he is PUP at the start of TC and converted to IR for the season. I also think Nijman is in the mix.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

I think Nijman is in the mix, too. Should be a very strange training camp with fewer preseason games and probably fewer practice reps. We shall see. Thanks for the comment, Slim11.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 10:59 am

There are always surprises in camp and injuries that make things a bit less clear cut. We shall see how this plays out. I think your predictions are going to be fairly accurate, but these is also always something that changes what appears to be obvious. Thanks for commenting.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
frankthefork's picture

July 12, 2020 at 01:13 pm

Too bad NFL doesn't go to 55 players; which they should and will in the future.
GB has a solid team and your picks are almost in line with mine. GPG

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:55 pm

Thanks for the comment, frankthefork. GPG.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:51 pm

Good list. Drop Kumerow for Begelton and MVS for a more talented player at another position. It wouldn't surprise if the only kept 5 WR. There will not be many occasions that more than 3 WR on the field at the same time and even 3 WR sets will be greatly diminished. Thus is a RB and TE centric offense.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

July 11, 2020 at 06:49 pm

If theres a position battle with any. There will be a trade/cut. This team is to financially strapped.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:02 am

The cap will definitely be a factor going forward, but management will find a way, I'm sure. It's going to be tricky. Thanks as always for the comment, stockholder.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
taarons420's picture

July 12, 2020 at 01:31 pm

They'll be able to sign Bakhtiari and Clark. That's all that matters.
After that... they can trade Rodgers... then they'll have TONS of money.
That's when it'll be "go time".
Can't wait.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 01:00 am

I don't see a QB competition. Love has great arm talent, but ALOT to learn. They will carry 3 QBs and Boyle will be the #2 QB.

Sullivan will be given every chance to earn and keep the slot position. If he faulters Tramon will in all likelihood be re-signed. If another CB steps up big, they'll probably look at Jaire in the slot. Jackson was a bust the day they drafted him. He simply doesn't have any man cover skills and made a name in college by having TJ Barrett and Hornibrook gift him 5 INTs and 2 TDs. He's terrible, as I've said from the beginning.

#2 ILB is between Burks and the hybrid Raven Greene. Bolton has some coverage ability but as a true ILB he's undersized for handling run responsibly (ame with Greene). Its a matter of how mucb Pettine can afford to use them and give up rushing yards.

+ REPLY
-2 points
1
3
Slim11's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:12 am

Agreed.

I believe Jackson doesn't make it through TC and if BG can find a willing trade partner, Jackson will be shipped out. At ILB, I think Bolton is the sleeper. I hope he used 2019/20 off season to add bulk up a bit and perhaps become a better run stopper.

Boyle's experience in the system keeps him on the roster this season.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:04 am

I think they want Love to be the number 2, but I don't think he'll be ready because of the shortened offseason program, training camp and preseason. I agree Sullivan is the favorite for slot corner and we'll see about ILB. I just hope there's a season. Thanks for the comment, Stroh.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 05:25 pm

Boyle has 2 full years immersed in the playbook. Love has an abbreviated and messed up offseason. A vackup QBs job, part of it anyway, is to help the starter in anyway he can. Boyle has been working with Rodgers in that regard already. That's 2 big reasons Boyle will be the #2.

There will be a season. May be altered and possibly abbreviated in some ways, but there is too much money at stake for both owners and players to not have a season.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 06:11 pm

They will certainly try. I agree Boyle stays this year because of the strange offseason and Love's lack of prep time.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nostradanus's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:05 am

It will be a very strange training camp due to Covid-19, lack of off-season participation, shortened pre-season (or no pre-season) and many other unknowns yet to come.

There are always a few major surprises (Sitton- Daniels)

I don’t see as many changes this camp though as teams that keep their veteran core together will have the better chance of winning in a season of uncharted waters.

*3 QB’s yes, they are going to bring Love along slowly and the “Golden Boyle” knows this offense very well.

*Sullivan as slot/nickel yes, with Tramon as a “break glass in emergency option only.

*Burks as the other ILB starter yes, they traded up for him and expect him to sink or swim this season.

*Lazard as #2 yes, that’s where he finished up last season and Funchess will be replacing Geranimo’s snaps at #3.

*Wagner at RT yes, The packers are going to want to keep the bulk of their offensive line starters in place. Making Wagner the starter at right tackle does that only changing one position on the offensive line. He’s a proven veteran starter.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Slim11's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:23 am

Under the "surpirses," it could be Josh Jackson. If BG finds a trade partner, Jackson could be gone via trade.

It has happened. Look at what BG got for Ty Montgomery and Trevor Davis.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PatrickGB's picture

July 12, 2020 at 09:46 am

I see Josh Jackson as a solid backup. But he is not a slot CB. I have wondered why he has not been moved to safety. I think it fits his skill set better.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:20 pm

You can't be a Safety in the NFL if you can't tackle anyone and Jackson is as poor a tackler as he is in man coverage. He was a WR before being moved to CB and lacks the physicality and desire for tackling.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:57 pm

It fits his skill set better as far as his lack of speed to be a cover corner, but it would also require him to learn a new position--not that that's impossible but it could take some time and with this weird offseason, he probably won't have it. We shall see. Thanks as always for the comment, PatrickGB.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 13, 2020 at 03:54 pm

Being a zone CB fits his skill set. Safety doesn't fit much better as being a man cover CB.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:12 am

Yes, I think the Packers would be happy to get anything back for Jackson. I wonder how the pandemic affects trades and even waiver pickups and the like. Could players have to quarantine for 14 days after signing with a new team? Will be interesting, Slim11, that's for sure. Thanks for commenting.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

July 12, 2020 at 01:47 pm

The smart play is keep Jackson outside. Bet King plays some deep Safety. And you heard Savage may play some slot. If Jackson pushes King and is over his injuries. King might not get paid. If Jackson pushes,! Alexander is another that could see some slot time. Jackson is the player to watch. Hopefully we don't throw King away, after Williams taught him so much.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:59 pm

King will be there this year and start if he's healthy. Next year with the cap money being tight, he may be elsewhere.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 12:45 am

Jackson is the player to watch. As in watch him continue to fail and the Packers get nothing for him. Jackson is going to have to push just to make the roster. Push for playing time or start? Forget about it! My guess is he sticks as the 5th or 6th CB because they wouldn't be able to get more than a conditional late rd pick for him.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:25 pm

First it was a mistake to draft him. If they wanted to get anything for him they should have traded him after yr 1. At this point, I doubt you get more than a conditional late round pick. That being the case, they'll probably hold onto him for another year at the bottom of the depth chart.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 04:58 pm

I agree, his trade value won't be very high. Wouldn't be surprised to see the coaches talk him up in camp to try to raise it a bit.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

July 12, 2020 at 11:08 am

Looks like we're on the same page on these. I think these are the most likely outcomes of each of those spots. I also think this season is going to be strange and almost surreal. Who knows what to expect. I just hope they're able to play. Thanks as always for the comment, nostradanus.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 14, 2020 at 09:53 am

N,
Big Lazard fan and have been since prior to WR cuts and placement on Practice Squad when most on here wanted Darius Shepherd instead of Lazard.

I am also a fan of ESB who 'I believe' is a bit faster than Lazard. Both are very good blockers and ST players. Lots of similarities in bodies , age, and what they bring.

For those automatically saying Lazard has #2 spot I think you are wrong. I 'believe' the Packers are going to have 4 WR's interchangable as #2 and #3. In fact I dont know if by end of season we know who is the clear cut #2. Look at these 4 WR's closely:

Lazard @ 24 years - 6'5" and 227 lbs

ESB @ 23 years - 6'5" and 214 lbs

Funchess @ 26 years - 6'4" & 225 lbs

MSV @ 25 years - 6'4" and 206 lbs

Kumerow will be cut with no chance! Reggie Begelton at 26 years - 6'0" and 200 lbs will be interesting to watch but he likely gets cut as well.

Keep eye out for ESB being the surprise of all aforementioned WR's.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Stroh's picture

July 16, 2020 at 12:52 am

I'm convinced EQ will be the best #2 WR option. But agree there may not be a clear #2. Mostly because none of them have #2 WR game.

I also think Begelton has a strong chance and is likely going to make the roster. Kumerow is gone and the Packers might only keep 5 WR. This is a RB and TE centric offense.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.