This season’s training camp will be an interesting one for the Green Bay Packers. There are several key positions that will be up for grabs and will be determined in training camp. One of those battles will be for the third spot for the Green Bay Packers running backs.
Three Green Bay Packers Running Backs Vying for the Third Spot
Sure, the third spot on the Green Bay Packers running backs list might not seem “sexy” at first glance. But if you take a look at what the Green Bay Packers running backs mean to the Packers offense, then you know why it is one to watch. Especially for what the offense is expected to look like this season.
With Davante Adams now a Las Vegas Raider, and Brian Gutekunst doing very little to replace his production, the Green Bay Packers offense will lean heavily on the run game in 2022. The Packers will still have Aaron Rodgers, who won his second consecutive MVP award, as their quarterback. But, without a true number one wide receiver, Rodgers will need help. That help will need to come from the Green Bay Packers running backs group.
The Packers are blessed to have two very capable running backs in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Both of the Green Bay Packers running backs have the ability to be the top ball carrier in the Packers offense. However, the way that head coach Matt LaFleur and running backs coach Ben Sirmans have it set up, Jones and Dillon work as a tandem. Splitting the duties has worked well for the Packers in recent history. However, if one goes down, the Packers will need someone to step in and be able to carry his weight.
There are three viable candidates to fill the third spot behind Jones and Dillon heading into 2022. Patrick Taylor, Kylin Hill, and Tyler Goodson are the three Green Bay Packers running backs that will battle for the number three spot.
Out of the three candidates, Taylor has the most experience. Although that isn’t saying a lot. Officially, 2021 was Taylor’s second season in the NFL. However, in his rookie season which was in 2020, he was still recovering from a foot injury he suffered in his last season at Memphis. Taylor never played a down in 2020, still recovering from his foot injury.
Taylor recovered from his foot injury in 2021. However, he was beaten out by Kylin Hill for the number three spot in training camp. Taylor was cut but was re-signed by the Packers to their practice squad.
When Hill injured his knee on a kickoff return, Taylor was promoted to the active roster. He handled the number three spot the rest of the season. He finished the season with 23 carries for 89 yards with one touchdown carry, his first in his NFL career.
In his junior season at Memphis, Taylor rushed for over 1,100 yards. His numbers dropped in his senior season due to his foot injury. Now, fully healthy, Taylor appears to be the top candidate to be the number three Green Bay Packers running back. With Taylor having good size and now being fully recovered from his college injury, Taylor appears to be more than capable of backing up Jones and Dillon.
When Gutekunst selected Hill in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft, he was applauded for the selection. In 2019, Hill rushed for over 1,300 yards for Mississippi State. His numbers dropped the following season, which had a lot to do with a coaching change. When he slid to the seventh round, Gutekunst quickly gobbled up the very talented running back.
Hill displayed the talent he displayed in 2019 in training camp last season. Not only did he show he was a capable running back, but he also displayed that he could return kicks. Hill beat out Taylor for the number three spot and also became the Packers primary kickoff returner.
Unfortunately for Hill, he suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Arizona Cardinals when he mistakenly decided to return a kick instead of taking a touchback. His knee injury could put in jeopardy, the start of his 2022 season but also his hold on the number three running back spot. With rookie wide receiver Christian Watson expected to be the primary kickoff returner, Hill’s lock on a roster spot might be in jeopardy.
With Hill recovering from a knee injury, it appears that Taylor’s biggest competition will come from undrafted free agent Tyler Goodson. Most undrafted free agent players are lucky to even make an NFL roster. But Goodson has more talent than your run-of-the-mill undrafted free agent players.
Goodson spent three seasons at the University of Iowa. In all three seasons, Goodson was a major part of the Hawkeyes offense. However, he saved his best season for last. In 2021, Goodson rushed for 1,151 yards on 256 carries with six rushing touchdowns. He did all of that while opposing defenses focused on stopping the run.
The Hawkeyes run a pro-style of offense, which could give Goodson a leg up on adapting to the Packers offense. The biggest obstacle for Goodson, like with any rookie running back, will be learning how to pass block. Patrick Taylor displayed that ability last season, which could give him the advantage over Hill and Goodson. But Goodson’s ability to run the ball will make the decision for LaFleur and Sirmans a difficult one.
In Good Hands with Sirmans
All of the Green Bay Packers running backs are blessed to have Ben Sirmans as their coach. While other assistant coaches on LaFleur’s staff have been given promotions, all Sirmans has done is make the position he coaches even better. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have become two very productive running backs, and have done it under Sirmans watch.
No matter if it is Patrick Taylor, Kylin Hill, or Tyler Goodson, as the Packers number three running back, he will be in good hands. Sirmans has helped Jones and Dillon progress through their maturation and it is expected he can do the same with whomever they choose for the number three spot.
The Packers ground game is going to be even more vital in 2022. If the injury bug, which it has in recent history, bites Jones or Dillon, the number three running back will need to be ready. Who that person will be, will be answered in this season’s training camp.
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