Position-by-Position Training Camp Battles for 2020 - Defense

One matchup from each position on defense to keep an eye on entering training camp and the preseason.

Last Friday, I kicked off this two-parter by highlighting position battles of interest heading into training camp on the offensive side of the ball. To reiterate, matchups might take different forms, whether players are battling for a roster spot, playing time, or a place on the depth chart. This isn’t to say that every battle on this list will come down to one player or the other, because that’s not true. Both players, or maybe neither in some cases, could make the roster. These are simply battles I’ll be paying extra attention to come training camp. Now, onto the defense. 

Defensive Line - Montravius Adams vs Treyvon Hester

It feels likely at this point that both Montravius Adams and Treyvon Hester make the roster. Adams is a former third-round pick the Packers aren’t ready to give up on yet, and Hester was added as a rotational lineman who has plenty of game experience to build off of. Behind Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry’s still on a hefty contract, Kingsley Keke is expected to take a second-year jump, and nose tackle Tyler Lancaster shows flashes stuffing the run. That likely leaves one or two spots available for Adams and/or Hester. Adams has the draft pedigree to fall back on and showed promise late in the 2019 season, playing 18% of defensive snaps. Hester played his lowest snap total in 2019 (12%), sliding from 33% in 2017 and 22% in 2018. Still, both players should see opportunities in camp to latch onto the roster as rotational rushers. 

EDGE - Tim Williams vs Randy Ramsey

A few weeks ago I mentioned the idea of the Packers keeping five edge rushers on the roster instead of four. If the Packers do opt to keep five, the battle feels like it would come down to Tim Williams and Randy Ramsey. Seventh-round draft pick Jonathan Garvin brings a unique blend of speed and length to the room, so he was my fourth lock for that reason. Both Ramsey and Williams spent time on Green Bay’s practice squad in 2019, with Ramsey just missing the active roster out of training camp and Williams a roster addition during the season. As we know, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has praised his edge unit consistently, calling it one of the deepest rooms he’s worked with. This training camp battle will be one to watch. 

Inside Linebacker - Ty Summers vs Kamal Martin

Christian Kirksey, should he stay healthy, will be the team’s every-down inside linebacker this season. Oren Burks as a former third-round pick finds himself in the same situation as Montravius Adams. This is his prove-it year. That leaves returning seventh-round pick Ty Summers and new fifth-round draft pick Kamal Martin competing for snaps. Summers made the 53-man roster out of training camp last season but played only special teams snaps in 2019. Martin has yet to take a snap in live practice with the Packers, but he brings speed and coverage ability to the unit. The Packers typically keep four inside linebackers on the roster, so I’d expect both Summers and Martin to make the team, but whether they end up taking snaps on special teams or opposite Kirksey on defense makes this a battle to watch.  

Cornerback - Marc Antoine-Dequoy vs Stanford Samuels

The cornerback unit is going to excite come training camp. Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are locked in as the starters with Chandon Sullivan penciled in to play the nickel role. We also can’t forget about Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman. Jackson finds himself in the “prove it” camp while Hollman looks to take a second-year jump and see more playing time on defense. With the amount of dime Pettine plays, expect one or two more corners to stick on the roster, too. Right now, the battle to watch is between Marc Antoine-Dequoy and Stanford Samuels. Dequoy is already 25, but he’s 6-3 and can run a 4.35 40-yard dash. He brings an intriguing blend of size and ball skills to the defense. In his collegiate career with Montreal, Dequoy returned a whopping six interceptions for touchdowns, half of his total 12. Samuels going undrafted shocked many, and the 6-1 Seminole has plenty to prove. In his three years at Florida State, Samuels posted 145 total tackles and eight interceptions with 16 passes defensed. These two are going to increase the competition in the cornerback room immediately, and could even unseat one of the lower names on the depth chart with dominant performances during training camp. 

Safety - Will Redmond vs Vernon Scott

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are the long-term starters at safety. Neither are going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Raven Greene has carved out a nice role for himself in subpackages for Pettine as a hybrid box safety, and he returns from a 2019 season dampened by injury. That leaves Will Redmond who re-signed with the Packers this offseason, and seventh-round draft pick Vernon Scott out of TCU competing for what’s likely one final spot. Scott only started one year at TCU, but he’s got plenty of versatility to play almost anywhere in the secondary in both nickel and dime personnel. While there’s not a ton of tape on him, his 98-yard pick-six against Oklahoma State put him on the map, and he finished his collegiate career with 82 tackles, 12 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack over his final 21 college games. Redmond made four starts for the Packers but played primarily on special teams (43% of snaps). Whoever snags the fourth safety spot will likely be taking the bulk of their snaps on special teams at least initially. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (30)

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splitpea1's picture

June 23, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Time to move on from Adams, regardless of his draft pedigree. If the guy is driving around without insurance and proper registration, you have to wonder what's going on upstairs. Besides, he only played in 18% of the snaps--is that supposed to be impressive? Let's give the opportunity to someone else.

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fastmoving's picture

June 24, 2020 at 03:35 am

law and order....as the orange criminal tweets.......just not for me and my loosers. And the rest of the world keeps wondering whats so wrong upstairs and everywhere else.
Adams is a pretty good guy and I bet the old guy with the strange pic is wrong again. But thats the best thing about it......

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splitpea1's picture

June 24, 2020 at 12:20 pm

You might want to clean all those little orange gremlins out of your attic so there's room for something else....

So what if Adams is a "pretty good guy (?)"....He's done next to nothing in his three seasons with the Packers and apparently lacks the maturity to take care of important personal responsibilities. You can sign him to your team if you like....

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Coldworld's picture

June 24, 2020 at 02:17 pm

Adams has done nothing. He has to prove it now. I’m not going to write him off, but he really has to show up or he will be gone. It’s there, reach out and grab it Montravious ....,

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Stroh's picture

June 24, 2020 at 10:43 pm

Adams is a career underachiever. He should be gone before the season starts. If by some chance (the potential money) he plays far above what he's done to date, the Packers should by no means sign him again. He'll fall right back to what he has always been, an underachiever! He will not see a 2nd contract in GB and may not see the end of his 1st contract.

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Beep's picture

June 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Of these matchups, DL and ILB are going to be the only positions that see any meaningful playing time barring a significant injury. Let's hope some competition raises the play of everyone above them too!

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flackcatcher's picture

June 23, 2020 at 01:14 pm

Good overview Maggie. I am wondering what changes we will see to Pettine's scheme, countering the offensive game planning that will challenge his use of hybrid player's inline. There is a lot of mad science in that man...

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nostradanus's picture

June 23, 2020 at 01:44 pm

Good article Maggie,

Here's my take:

*DL - I like Adams over Hester as it is Adams contract year and they have three years invested in him. Lancaster is a nice kid that I think may be beat out by Willis the kid from Miami who was a force at the U.
*Edge - I am expecting a good battle here with Tim Williams emerging, he was terrific at Alabama and was a former 3rd round draft choice by the Ravens and known well by the Packers front office and coaching staff. I also expect UDFA Delonte Scott to make a surprise push for the 53 but most likely will end up on the practice squad.
*ILB - Martin and Summers will have a good old fashioned "battle royale"battle along with Bolton and Burks to be one of the three ILB's besides Kirksey. I love what Summers is all about but Martin is a superior talent and I believe he will end up ahead of Summers for a spot while Summers remains a special teams stalwart.
*CB - At Corner the battle between Dequoy and Samuels will be a fun one to follow. Dequoy has mad physical attributes however, I have watched his film and I just don't see anything outstanding. Dequoy also is coming from Canada and is 25 already which factors against him. Samuel's ran a 4.65 which was alarming, but if you watch his film this kid is super aggressive, competitive and always seems to be around the ball, he's a football player!
Samuel is one of my favorite UDFA's this year! I also expect a big step from Kadar Hollman and a surprise push from K. Ento.
*S - Redmond was mostly solid this past season where he had his up's and downs but was a contributor in the defensive backfield. Scott was one of those "they drafted who?" guys in the 7th round. If he hangs around i think it will be on the very fringe 53 as a special teams guy, but most likely on the practice squad. I give Redmond the edge because he is a versatile veteran as opposed to a versatile rookie.

Thank you, that...is...all...

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Bear's picture

June 23, 2020 at 07:00 pm

Holman & Ento are my sleepers to watch this year. Why are you worried about Dequoy’s age? The NFLPA says a players career averages only 3.5 years. He would be only 29 and done. I’m sure I’m missing something here.

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mnbadger's picture

June 23, 2020 at 01:58 pm

Nice pre-camp roster review. For the first time in a long time, I'm seeing depth at virtually all defensive positions sans DL & ILB.
I crave for the days of OTAs, mini camps and a full preseason so we could see them all compete for those valuable spots, not rely on old tape or past opinions. GPG!

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dobber's picture

June 23, 2020 at 02:24 pm

You have to ask yourself just how many roster spots are really up for grabs and how you anticipate roster distribution to look....especially with the expected loss of starting-caliber players this coming off-season. If practice squads expand (as they are expected to) and with the "call-up" rule put in place for practice squad players--AND with a diminished camp with fewer preseason games--I think teams are going to be bold in stashing a lot of these developmental players. More teams will keep the safer more experienced guy and push the UDFA and late-round pick to the PS. Most will make it, too, with the limited game reps and film that will be available to them. So many of these battles I don't really anticipate being battles at all.

I'm still unconvinced that there will be a full season, which really messes with the whole picture.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 24, 2020 at 02:23 pm

Like you dobber, I’m pretty skeptical about the full season. I don’t see how you can play games during a riot, and there’s going to be plenty of that after the November election. I think we’re seeing a small sample of what’s to come.

If I had to pick who are our probable gameday 21, with everyone healthy, I’d say ...

.........5 DL. Clark, Lowry, Lancaster, Keke, Unknown.

4 edge guys: Smith, Smith, Gary, Unknown
4 safeties. Amos, Savage, Greene, Unknown
5 corners.....Alexander, King, Sullivan, Jackson, Unknown

So that brings us to a total of 18 with room for three more. Obviously, Kirksey is one. I think we’ll keep one more interior linebacker and I’ll predict it’s Summers.

That last spot probably goes to a pass defender because the emphasis is stopping the pass.

By my count, that’s 15 locks and 6 unknowns. Training camp and injuries round out the final 21.

I’d be interested in what people think about the unknowns. I see good arguments for Hester, Holliman, Bolton.....but ultimately you suit up 21, have a few more inactive and a couple on the practice squad..

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Coldworld's picture

June 23, 2020 at 04:49 pm

Pretty much think you have the wrong matchups throughout.

Hester is more of a Lowry type and Willis is the potential penetrator to threaten Adams

Dequoy is likely to be a candidate for the last CB, hybrid S and ST and is a speedster. Bigger, much faster than Samuels. He likely competes with the larger Scott and others behind Greene and Samuels with Josh Jackson.

Redmond is a smaller deep safety converted corner. Last year was his first at safety and he has good ball skills and played well on special teams. The most likely competition for Redmond would would appear to be Jackson as well, not the larger Scott.

At OLB, I’m intrigued with the love for Ramsey not Roberts whom they gave more money to to redshirt, though frankly the 4th OLB could be anyone at this point. I’m a little puzzled at the Ramsey nearly made the roster narrative. He was clearly outplayed by late arrival Markus Jones. Jones being cut really surprised many who thought he must have played his way on. He is still out there, so clearly the team doesn’t agree, but Ramsey didn’t seem close.

Most of the OLB intake this year look like a year of physical development will be essential though, so perhaps a holdover is more likely.

Martin v Summers? Both will likely make it but both are probably competing for playing time on D with Bolton and Burks. Summers is likely to make it on ST if he does. Martin likely as a result of his draft pick, so if both Bolton and Burks force there way on, then I suppose the choice could be between them, but otherwise I think both make it.

I see Greene needing a back up. We probably need 4 or 5ILBs if one can take Greene’s role if needed, but I think a larger dB type like Scott or Dequoy or an undersized ex college ILB will offer better potential cover for Greene. There is definitely an opening behind them with Sullivan’s move up and Williams departure. Possibly two.

On the defensive line, a lot could be in flux. Adams could show up, Willis could threaten him though on potent and Hester could be the stoutest against the run if he plays like he has at times. If Keke comes on as I expect, which is the greater need? Is Hester good enough against the run to obviate the need for Lancaster? Will Willis be the destructive force he was in his last year at college? Could be an interesting mash up.

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Bear's picture

June 23, 2020 at 07:06 pm

Great analysis and research.

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WisconsinStrong's picture

June 24, 2020 at 09:15 pm

Maggie clarified that these are what she will be watching. Reread her introduction. This isn't a right or wrong situation. It would be better to acknowledge the context she provided than to simply state she is wrong.

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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2020 at 07:13 am

Use of the term versus would suggest competition between the named individuals, a conclusion supported by the preamble.

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Stroh's picture

June 23, 2020 at 04:59 pm

Adams battles is to make the roster at all. He has no heart or hustle in him. He's got a foot out the door right now. His making the roster depends on him discovering that, regardless of any competition he has. Either way he won't get a 2nd contract.

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Lphill's picture

June 23, 2020 at 05:11 pm

I think M Adams and Burks don’t make the final roster.

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Stroh's picture

June 23, 2020 at 07:04 pm

That's a distinct possibility. But I think Burks will make it and start to play well. Just a hunch really.

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splitpea1's picture

June 23, 2020 at 07:56 pm

THAT would be a pleasant surprise. But he has to be able to stay on the field first.

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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2020 at 08:11 am

I think you nail it. 3rd year and never seen Burks healthy. Really don’t know what he is. Adams has seemingly less excuse since as far as in aware he has been healthy predominantly. Both have to show up on the field quickly and make a splash. I really don’t know if either is capable of doing that. I hope for a pleasant surprise, but that is what it will be if one earns his spot on performance.

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marpag1's picture

June 24, 2020 at 01:59 am

I'd be content if NONE of these guys made the roster. Well wait... I'd be pissed if Kamal Martin didn't make it and we wasted the draft pick. But other than that, most of this looks pretty meaningless.

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Coldworld's picture

June 24, 2020 at 06:33 am

Disagree unless you want to go into the year with one ILB, only Greene as a Hybrid, no backup deep safety and down one CB. Some of these players are likely to get a lot of playing time since this encompasses all the defensive draft picks, UDFAs and other acquisitions as well as holdovers.

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marpag1's picture

June 25, 2020 at 02:06 am

My point is that none of these candidates seem to hold any more promise than your average journeyman or street free agent. You could replace them with virtually anyone without really losing anything. But like I said, I'm willing to give Martin a chance to show us something.

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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2020 at 07:18 am

Isn’t the hope that one won’t be? That’s the NFL team building game. I don’t disagree on your point generally but players such as Sullivan (based on last year), Shields, Tramon also would have fallen into this category. Regardless, we are going to need snaps from some of these. Let’s hope for a pleasant surprise or two.

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Archie's picture

June 24, 2020 at 09:33 am

Yep, no doubt about it, it's now or never time for Adams, Burks & Jackson.

Three recent high picks on defense that all look like busts.

If one of them emerges to give us quality minutes I will be pleased.

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greengold's picture

June 24, 2020 at 01:23 pm

I'm thinking Montravius Adams is done in GB. He really hasn't shown anything at all in 3 years, and I was really pulling for the guy. With that level of abysmal production, I cannot see him sticking, even though he was a former 3rd Round pick. Speaking of former 3rd Round picks, I think Burks will be hitting the highway as well, and for the same reasons of low, low, low production. I love the FA/Draft/UDFA additions this offseason and last by Gutekunst on our DL and EDGE, and I think a good number of them will win out positions over others who failed like Adams last year.

Count me as a firm believer in Kamal Martin, and I'll be surprised if he is not the starter next to Christian Kirksey. I'm a big Ty Summers fan too, and while I do think he is fully capable, Martin has the edge in size/speed/instincts/coverage to edge out a win for the position. Summers, nonetheless, will make for great/reliable depth at ILB, and he's an ACE in STs.

Speaking of STs, Dequoy should excel there as well, but I strongly believe he will work his way over time to filling the FS position more than CB, and we'll see Darnell Savage taking more and more reps covering the slot, where he proved himself to be exceptional at Maryland. Dequoy will require some time to groom into this Packers defense, but I don't think it will take too long before he becomes a regular contributor. Both Savage and Dequoy make sense at slot/FS, their more natural positions respectively.

This secondary IMO will become extremely fluid, based on the skill/size/speed we have in the DB room. What a versatile group. Hell, you've got Kevin King wanting to play slot!!! And, he's fully capable.

Where does that leave Chandon Sullivan? He will get plenty of reps along the way, especially with all of the dime. This will be a very complete secondary moving forward - possibly the most complete I've witnessed in GB in terms of dynamic starting talent + depth. Add in other players having huge potential in Josh Jackson, Ka'dar Hollman, Kabion Ento, Raven Greene, Will Redmond, Stanford Samuels and Vernon Scott. That is a LOADED secondary, all of them ball hawks and willing tacklers v. the run.

When have we seen that many - complete - players in our secondary, ready, willing and able to play both run & pass coverage at high levels of skill in Green Bay? I cannot recall that in all of my years as a fan, going back to the Lombardi years.

Where Ted Thompson was struggling to build a quality secondary, Gutekunst has been pretty impressive in my eyes loading this unit up with remarkable skill, size speed and talent, top to bottom. My hat's off to the man. Add in Jerry Gray? Lookout...!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 24, 2020 at 01:45 pm

I expect Sullivan to play 800+ snaps and probably 1000. If someone pushes him for snaps, that would be an awesome problem to have.

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Coldworld's picture

June 24, 2020 at 02:23 pm

Don’t want Sullivan on the perimeter though. Someone needs to step up there. Holman and Ento May be the best bets for depth outside.

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greengold's picture

June 25, 2020 at 11:29 am

I respect Chandon Sullivan immensely and have very high praise fo him. Great slot DB. Darnell Savage is also great from the slot. As a matter of fact, he excels there, as evidenced from his time at Maryland.

The X-factor to me is Marc-Antoine Dequoy, who is a natural FS. I'm suspecting they will work Dequoy into becoming a regular part of the defense playing FS, while Savage shifts over to slot for however many snaps per game.

Dequoy merits consideration there, given his exceptional ball skills, his ability to tackle willingly in the open field vs. the run, and his freakish athleticism. At 603 198 he runs a blistering 40 at 4.35, and his 3-cone was unmatched at 6.65 at his Pro Day..

Of the 44 Safeties and CBs at the Combine, only 1 CB had a faster 40 time, and no one came close to his 3-cone. Only 11 could break the 7 second barrier. Just 4 of the 20 Safeties had a higher vertical than his 37".

Guess who coached him up for his Pro Day...? None other than his favorite player in the NFL, Harrison Smith, who is also 6-3 and is a 5-Time Pro Bowl Safety. Jerry Gray is going to love this kid. As a matter of fact, Gray called Dequoy the day before the draft...

This guy can flat out run, has great tracking on passes with the skills to make plays on the ball, and the dude ranges. Dequoy is gifted, with all the intangibles you could ask for in a DB. 3-Time Conference All Star and 2018 DPOY. 91 Tackles, 12 INT with 6 returned for TD in his career. Really tough to get his complete stat line btw... but you get the picture. He's also really good in man coverage, and has a feel for the flow of a play quickly after the snap.

Marc's got maturity too at 25 years old, and he's versatile as all hell, having played FS, SS and CB.

I can't imagine how you keep this kid off the field. All I know is we have one hell of a deep DB room, and Jerry Gray is going to have a field day coaching these dynamic players. ZERO knocks on Sullivan. I'm more than happy with him starting at slot this season. That kid was incredible last year. Getting all of these guys on the field is going to be the trick.

Maybe they just nabbed Dequoy to eventually take over for Amos at SS while providing top shelf STs play and backup Safety play as he learns the NFL ropes. A lot to play out, but with as much as Pettine plays 3 Safeties, this is now a phenomenally deep unit.

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