Packers Under the Most Pressure Entering Training Camp

Plenty of starting jobs and roster spots are up for grabs entering camp.

Training camp is almost here, and the Green Bay Packers are about to begin their ramp up to the 2023 season.

While camp is important for all players, it means more to some than others, with starting jobs or roster spots on the line over the course of the next month-plus.

Let’s pinpoint which players face the most pressure as training camp opens.

Josh Myers and Yosh Nijman

Myers and Nijman are facing the same challenge this summer: fending off Zach Tom for a starting berth at center and right tackle respectively.

Tom regularly stepped in at tackle during his rookie season and impressed, especially considering he was often thrust into the line-up on short notice.

He is cost-controlled and is likely to be a Packer longer than Nijman, who is a free agent after 2023. That could break the tie if both offensive linemen perform well during camp and pre-season games.

The incumbent center Myers has had ups and downs during his two years in the league, and while his starting spot still feels relatively secure, a below-par training camp could open the door to Tom.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has previously said he believed Tom’s best position coming out of college might in fact be center.

The veteran safeties

There are currently eight safeties on Green Bay’s squad, and it’s anyone’s guess which of them will be starters and which won’t even make the roster.

Darnell Savage has a leg up due to his experience and first-round pedigree, but he will still need to prove he deserves to lead the group after a disappointing career so far.

Rudy Ford, Innis Gaines, Dallin Leavitt, Tarvarius Moore and Jonathan Owens are also fighting to get on the field, and at least one of them won’t make the roster at all.

Shemar Jean-Charles, Jonathan Garvin, Sean Rhyan

File this group under: ‘Draft picks who have underwhelmed’.

The Packers veered from their usual type at corner to select Jean-Charles, who is undersized and didn’t perform well in pre-draft testing, in the fifth round back in 2020.

He has been pretty anonymous in the three seasons since and now has extra competition in 2023 draft pick Carrington Valentine.

Garvin, also a 2020 draft pick and therefore entering the final year of his rookie contract, faces an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster.

Even if Rashan Gary’s injury prevents him from starting the season on the active roster, there is real depth at the edge rusher position including Preston Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Kingsley Enagbare, Justin Hollins, and Brenton Cox Jr.

Rhyan’s rookie year was a disaster. The 2022 third-round pick didn’t see the field at all and ended the season with a PED suspension.

While he is obviously talented, there is competition everywhere along the offensive line for Rhyan to overcome. It’s uncommon for a third rounder would be cut before the start of their second season, but Rhyan has a lot to prove this summer.

Tyler Goodson and Patrick Taylor

These two are competing with each other, as well as rookie running back Lew Nichols III, for what is probably only one roster spot.

The rookie is likely to be favored if the battle is close, with Gutekunst loathe to cut his draft picks in their first season, so the veteran backs will have to clearly outperform Nichols if they are to make the 53.

Tyler Davis

If Josiah Deguara is seen as more of an H-back, Tyler Davis is the most experienced tight end on Green Bay’s roster. That’s wild.

Davis endured a quite miserable training camp last summer but still made the roster, mainly due to his special teams ability, but he has a legitimate chance to be the opening day starter at tight end this year.

With rookies Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft his primary competition, Davis has the leg up of being ingrained in the offense, at a position which can take time for young players to learn at the NFL level.

Davis will make the roster in all likelihood, but he could be first or last on the depth chart in week one and neither would be a surprise.

 

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @MarkOldacres

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Comments (32)

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

July 23, 2023 at 06:50 am

Thanks for the article Mark as we lead up to the start of training camp!!

Yikes…certainly did not want to wake this AM with a comment about Tyler Davis possibly being our starting TE. But I understand what you are saying cuz of Deguara’s uncertainty of his “true” position and the rookie TE’s having to develop as the season goes on. Lots of excitement in many areas of the team, but the TE position ranks at the top or near the top with the playmakers that we have!!

Let the games begin…finally!!

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GregC's picture

July 23, 2023 at 03:41 pm

This article is the first time I've heard anyone suggest that Tyler Davis has a shot at being the starting tight end. I would be very surprised if that happened. Luke Musgrave was a second round draft pick for a reason, and Tucker Kraft was drafted in the third round. I doubt that the coaches are that scared of starting a rookie tight end.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 23, 2023 at 07:57 pm

It depends on how well Tyler Kraft's blocking prowess at North Dakota State translates to the NFL. He might be fine or he might discover that his NFL opponents are bigger, faster, and stronger than the guys he mauled in division II. [True, Watson's speed translated fine.]

In that case, Tyler Davis might easily be the best blocking tight end on the roster, an ability obviously highly valued by LaFleur. GB also likes their draft picks, and probably want Musgrave and Kraft out there learning even if there is a better option on the bench. We shall see.

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greengold's picture

July 23, 2023 at 10:41 pm

Exactly. We fans all want immediate gratification. The Packers draft YEARS out with plans for some to be developed and to play meaningful snaps. Love. Carpenter. Ford. Wyatt.

TC yet to start, but Tyler could very well start. He very likely makes the 53.

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TKWorldWide's picture

July 24, 2023 at 07:50 am

Hey, unlike many of our unwashed brethren, I am prepared to wait several minutes for gratification. I’m an oak.

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Johnblood27's picture

July 23, 2023 at 07:11 am

Packers under pressure?
1 - Jordan Love - QB of the Green Bay Packers - nuff said
2 - Matt LaFleur - Head Football Coach - Great start, needs to grow as his position matures.
3 - Christian Watson, Quay Walker, Romeo Doubs, Devonte Wyatt - Last years rookies need to make a 2nd year leap and avoid a sophomore slump.
4 - DE'Vondre Campbell, Eric Stokes, Rashan Gary - These players need to rebound from injuries and become regular contributors at or better than their previous level.
5 - The entire DL - From Kenny Clark to TJ Slaton to the aforementioned Wyatt to the 2 rooks this position group MUST be better.

Thats how I see it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 23, 2023 at 08:02 pm

Agreed (except for Campbell, who played better than fans want to acknowledge and earned his contract with some to spare). Everyone of the players you mentioned could easily have been included by the author.

What this suggests to me is that the Packers have a ton of players who need to prove themselves. The team needs a lot (though not all) of these players to come through if this team is to be a playoff team. Quite a lot has to go right.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

July 24, 2023 at 11:00 am

Thank you for a realistic perspective. There are high hopes for all these new players and the second year jump from last year's players, but year after year rookie draft picks either don't pan out, don't get snaps very early on and don't contribute. And second year players may take a jump, or they may fade, or look like they've hit a very low ceiling. Gutey is throwing a lot of young talent at the wall to see what sticks, and then they can fill in the gaps where the picks failed. But to expect all the position groups to come together is too high for expectations. Such untested roster guys at D-line, Safety, WR, TE, and even pass rush after P. Smith. We would need a lot of guys to shine and shine early to have this be a truly good squad.

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NickPerry's picture

July 23, 2023 at 07:17 am

I'm REALLY curious to see how Meyers performs. Some Packer fans are already miffed Gute didn't take Creed Humphrey (Well, I am at least) instead of Meyers on draft night. He hasn't been very good but I'm still hopeful. Maybe missing 11 games his rookie year had a bigger effect on his game last season than we all know or could imagine.

Nijman is a favorite of mine. I LOVE these UDFA who make the team, and then KEEP making the team. I'd like to see him take the RT job and never look back. I think Tom is probably better, but I think Tom will be a better LT and that's probably where he'll go next year when/if David Bakhtiari is gone. ALL of this is assuming Chris Meyers takes a big jump.

Rhyan? I have NO idea what to expect from this guy. Everybody thought he was such a fantastic pick at the time, a value even in the 3rd round, but right now not so much.

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mrtundra's picture

July 23, 2023 at 08:40 am

I'm curious about Meyers, as well. We could see Zach Tom as our starting Center this season, if Meyers doesn't perform in camp. I like Tom at LT, as well, and that may be his spot if Bakh gets injured, this season. It could also be Tom's spot if GB cuts/releases Bakh, at season's end. I think Nijman has earned the RT spot. I also agree on Rhyan. The buzz on Rhyan was that no one gets by him on the OL. We haven't seen anything like that, yet! If he doesn't show something in camp, I think he is gone.

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greengold's picture

July 23, 2023 at 09:12 am

Yeah, mrtundra, I’m curious as well. Gutekunst went out of his way to say Tom’s best position was Center. Add in their declaration opening up all positions for competition, and a lot can change. Or not.

#3 ranked OL Overall in 2022 by Football Outsiders. Green Bay can literally return that entire unit for 2023.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 23, 2023 at 08:22 pm

Myers has been a low-end starting center. Not bad enough to require the Packers to go out and sign a replacement (nor pay for a quality replacement), and too highly drafted to use a premium pick to try to replace him this early. The drop-off to Lucas Patrick was not that much. Patrick garnered a two-year, $8M contract with the Bears, who overpaid for Patrick, IMO.

Myers needs to improve the quality of his performance. He is good enough to stay in the NFL as he is now, but probably as a journeyman backup.

At some point, the Packers will have to find a center if Myers isn't the guy.

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NickPerry's picture

July 23, 2023 at 07:36 am

I'm sure all my other fellow posters and Packers fans here already have read about Carrington Valentine. But one thing I've noticed was this kid was projected to go much higher than the 7th round, like the 3rd round or thereabouts.

I'm really excited to see this kid. Athlon Sports had this kid going in the 2nd/3rd round and ranked as their 71st over all prospect. Take that with TWO grains of salt, they had Tucker Kraft as their 18th ranked prospect, Van Ness ranked 20th, and Musgrave 23rd. Others to make their Top 100 was Colby Wooden at 81

Now I don't know where Athlon ranks as far as their rankings. Are they well respected or just ranking out their asses. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

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greengold's picture

July 23, 2023 at 08:02 am

Hey Nick,
Athlon’s is one of the most respected draft publications, and has been for more than 50 years.

The Sporting News is another one going back 50 years + (used to buy them as a kid), where the Packers took 6 of their Top 125 Players: #26 DE Lucas Van Ness, #61 TE Luke Musgrave, #71 DT Karl Brooks, #99 DT Colby Wooden, #100 TE Tucker Kraft, #119 WR Jayden Reed.

TSN publishes after the Combine now, unlike Athlon’s which comes out prior.

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NickPerry's picture

July 24, 2023 at 06:56 am

Thanks greengold!

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BubbaOne's picture

July 23, 2023 at 08:45 am

Royce (he's no Rolls) Newman is under pressure of being traded/cut. My dark horse trade/cut is Dallin Leavitt. He may be a ST ace but IIRC, showed less than adequate ability at S. Gutey has brought in Moore, Owens and picks AJ Jr, Valentine even one of the new WRs who could make Leavitt expendable.

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mnbadger's picture

July 23, 2023 at 09:17 am

I'm hoping the best players make the cut, not coach's security blankets.
Leavitt may be smart and gutty, I don't recall him making any great plays, just sticking out when failing badly.
We have to raise the bar, let them compete, get best 53 ready every Sunday.
No give away games this year.
GPG!

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HarryHodag's picture

July 23, 2023 at 09:59 am

What's annoying is Nijman is best at left tackle, so if he loses out at right tackle he still makes the team in all probability. My guess is the Packers will keep Nijman as a cushion against a likely David Bahktiari injury.

Some factors against him is he will make $4 million this year and has zero dead cap if he is cut. He is also a UFA next season. If one of the other tackles shows promise he could go this year to avoid the signing cost of a veteran left tackle. Next year's draft has a bounty of good tackles available.

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greengold's picture

July 23, 2023 at 10:22 am

Harry, I think many are dinging Yosh Nijman at RT simply because that’s where he was playing the last 3 games of the season with an injured shoulder, so injured that he should have been replaced. That clearly hindered his play.

Yosh can play both LT & RT equally well, with 2 years starting experience at both sides entering the NFL from the pass rusher heavy ACC, surrendering just a single sack in 4 years starting at VT.

There remains a ton of talent behind the starters, and you’re right that any number of our starters have contract situations leaving open the possibility of trade.

Any one of Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, Rasheed Walker, Caleb Jones, OG Chuck Filiaga (who I really like too), Kadeem Telfort, et al could surprise in TC/Preseason competition.

OL is such a strength, we might be able to keep all of these guys mentioned if we keep 10 OL total and can successfully stash one of those mentioned on the PS.

I love it! Amazing depth.

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Vachio's picture

July 23, 2023 at 03:14 pm

I think this is exactly why we keep him. $4 million for a competent swing tackle is a pretty good deal and a great deal for a starting right tackle.

If someone makes him an offer we can't match in FA next season (which is a fair possibility given the lack of competent OT play around the league), we get a compensatory pick and with the OT salaries being what they are, it would likely be a 3rd rounder. I figure someone is going to overpay him based on past performance, but even more so if he plays well this season.

Keeping him is a no lose scenario. If Tom beats him out, we still have a competent swing tackle in case of injury at a reasonable cost and will likely get a nice comp pick next year. If Yosh wins the job, we have a solid RT for relative peanuts, we still have a solid swing tackle at a reasonable cost in Tom, and we'll still probably wind up with the comp pick next season.

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greengold's picture

July 23, 2023 at 06:53 pm

Vachio, how some punk can ding THIS with a down vote tells me there’s vermin in the house. Bear, lion or Viking variety.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 23, 2023 at 09:06 pm

Should Nijman get signed next season by another team, unless he elevates his play considerably (a possibility since he might still have some upside), he probably is a $10M AAV guy. That probably translates to a 5th round compensatory pick in 2025. It isn't far off from a 4th, so if Nijman improves and gets more money, it could be a 4th. As a UDFA, that's a win for GB and if he improves and has a future in GB as a RT or LT, all the better. Nijman would have to have a terrible year to be worth only a 6th round compensatory pick. So, in all likelihood, either a 5th or possibly a 4th. And if he improves, GB might just re-sign him.

If he has plateaued, my own view is Nijman is acceptable but a guy the team will always be looking to replace. Not bad, but not quite as good as one would like. Probably too expensive to be a back-up swing tackle on a second contract.

The Packers have a lot of developmental talent on the roster at tackle. That doesn't mean that they think Caleb Jones, Rasheed Walker, or Luke Tenuta are or might blossom into starting OTs. It is more likely that they are hoping one of them can be a cheap back-up swing tackle on a rookie contract or UDFA deal. One can hope Rasheed Walker is the next Mark Tauscher (but just needed a year, unlike Tauscher). If they move on from Bakh, and Nijman moves on in free agency, that doesn't sound like a great plan to me. One could project Tom at one OT position, but who plays the other? I suppose the Packer could move Jenkins to tackle, since it is easier in general to find a guard than a quality tackle.

Nijman is a nice chess piece to have. I like the talent of some of these developmental tackles while being unable to project any of them as starting material at this time. The coaches and front office need to navigate this situation well as they have assembled a pleasing OL room with good potential. They have to pick and choose correctly.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 24, 2023 at 11:31 am

I like Yosh. I am fine with keeping him. But if a team offers a decent draft pick for him, I am ok with that too.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

July 23, 2023 at 10:03 pm

Drafting a good LT is not a winning bet to start right away. Between 1 LT and 2 RBs, depth really has to be evaluated. I don't know that there's salary cap to keep all 3 starters next year.

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splitpea1's picture

July 23, 2023 at 11:33 am

Davis was the leader in special teams snaps last season and is an important member of every sub-unit. So while he may not contribute much on offense, he does have an important role here as the other tight ends begin their developmental path.

Rhyan has a lot to prove to even make the team. If he doesn't show he's capable of being better than Newman....wow, that's a big-time whiff from Gute.

I think there's too much fresh competition for Gaines, SJC, and Garvin to overcome.

Savage will be under pressure all season not just to prove he was worth the option, but to continue his career with the lucrative paycheck he would like...somewhere.

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BubbaOne's picture

July 23, 2023 at 11:54 am

Coaches: ST guru Rich Bisaccia should be under the most pressure. ST was ranked I think 23rd. Gutey brought back all the core ST players and picked Anders Carlson per Bisaccia's recommendation. ST needs to show continuing improvement being ranked at worst 15-18.

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coolhand's picture

July 24, 2023 at 11:07 am

Well BubbaOne, I would say the ST were ranked lower the first half of the season until Amari Rodgers was replaced with Nixon, and that was when we saw the huge improvement. That blocked punt against the Vikes at Lambeau was disappointing to see, but mostly a vast improvement over the first half of the season. Carlson will be interesting to watch, though hearing about his leg strength has me optimistic at this point.

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Lphill's picture

July 23, 2023 at 12:18 pm

Joe Barry

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Duneslick's picture

July 23, 2023 at 02:59 pm

Agree

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PatrickGB's picture

July 24, 2023 at 11:33 am

I am just hoping we see Joe Barry 2.0

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PatrickGB's picture

July 24, 2023 at 11:22 am

Every coach, player, manager and employee of the organization should and probably do feel pressure. Good organizations do. They have to in order to succeed. I guess the point of the article is, do they feel more than normal pressure? Any person in this organization who is, in anyway lax, needs to step up.
As a fan, I am surprised that I don’t feel that pressure like I used to. Let the games begin!

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Fubared's picture

July 24, 2023 at 08:38 pm

Let's hope gutt got it right. He's never impressed me but this year is a turning point. Vikes coaches and gm will be in year two. Bears have a lot of additions and improvements. Lions are supposed to be break out season even though thier draft was suspect considering who they passed up.
There are way to many ifs for me on this team.

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