The Green Bay Packers are at a critical juncture in their franchise’s history. For the first time in over 15 years, the Packers head into training camp with a starter at quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers.
After sitting behind the Hall of Fame quarterback for three seasons, 2020 first-round quarterback Jordan Love will finally have the opportunity to take over and prove his abilities on the field in extended game-action. The Packers and their fans alike are hopeful that this transition will go over as smoothly as the Favre to Rodgers move that officially began in 2008 once Favre was traded to the New York Jets (sound familiar?).
As they enter the 2023 season, the Packers are no longer considered to be the Super Bowl contenders as they were in years past given they are rolling with an unproven starting quarterback and an extremely young receiving corps. Yet, with some talented veteran stalwarts in Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and Jaire Alexander, along with the expected improvement in Love’s play, the Packers believe that they can contend for the division title in a wide-open NFC North.
However, if they wish to do so, the Packers will need several complementary players to step up. Now that Packers training camp officially began on July 26th, here are the top four Packers training camp battles.
The 4 Most Captivating Green Bay Packers Training Camp Battles
After last year’s leading receiver, Allen Lazard, departed in free agency to sign with the Jets, the Packers current receiving corps is astonishingly young. Heading into training camp, the Packers are heavily relying on second-year receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to build off of their promising rookie years.
Watson started his professional career on a bad note, but recovered down the stretch. His blend of size, speed, athleticism, and increased role make him a prominent breakout candidate for 2023. Although Watson displayed good chemistry with Love in limited time last year, the question remains of whether he can uphold his exceptional level of play to close out the year.
Behind Watson and Doubs, the Packers are depending on 2022 seventh-round pick Samori Toure and 2023 second-round pick Jayden Reed to contribute. Although Toure and Reed have the skillsets to complement Watson and Doubs, they will face significant competition from other young receivers in training camp. Rookies Grant DuBose, Dontayvion Wicks, and Malik Heath are all contenders to compete for the last couple roster spots at receiver.
While the Packers have a plethora of young, talented players at the position, they do not currently employ a veteran receiver with more than one year of NFL experience. Although some veterans are still available, such as Jarvis Landry, the Packers may opt to see how their young receivers fare in training camp before making any decisions.
The Packers regime values versatile offensive linemen that can play multiple positions along the line. Last season, the offensive line as a unit was inconsistent and not up to the Packers usual standard of play. This was mostly in part due to stud tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins displaying rust in their returns from serious knee injuries, along with poor play from some younger offensive linemen.
However, the Packers are hoping the line will significantly improve now that Bakhtiari and Jenkins will start the season on the left side of the line at tackle and guard, respectively. With Jenkins sliding over back to his best position at left guard, this opens up a competition for the starting right tackle.
Zach Tom, the second-year player who flashed brilliance in his rookie season in five starts between tackle and guard, should enter Packers training camp with a starting job. Meanwhile, Tom will face competition from swing tackle Yosh Nijman, who has started 10 games at left tackle and 11 at right tackle over the last two seasons. The team ultimately benched Nijman for Tom in last season’s decisive Week 18 loss against the Lions.
Although both Tom and Nijman have displayed the versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line, they will inevitably face stiff competition from one another to start at right tackle.
Now that Jordan Love is finally the starting quarterback, the Green Bay Packers will need someone to assume the backup role. The quarterbacks jostling for this role primarily consist of journeyman Danny Etling and rookie quarterback Sean Clifford.
Former LSU quarterback Danny Etling, who spent last season on the practice squad, is a strong contender to earn the backup role over Clifford given his previous experience in Matt LaFleur’s offense. In preseason action last season, Etling showed off his dual-threat abilities, including a 51-yard touchdown run against the Saints. However, now that the team used a mid-round pick to select Clifford, Etling must show improvement in practice and in the preseason to maintain a roster spot.
Meanwhile, the Packers shockingly selected Clifford in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite a lengthy and decorated career at Penn State, many scouts viewed Clifford as a perennial backup with limited potential to become a legitimate starter. However, despite a lack of arm strength, Clifford possesses the accuracy, intelligence, and intangibles to develop into a solid backup for the team. Given that the team used a premium draft pick on Clifford, it conveys the belief that his Clifford and his skillset can successfully transition at the next level.
Danny Etling is no stranger to long preseason TD runs. 💨 pic.twitter.com/Dumw4NCiL9
— NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2022
Over the past decade, the safety position has consistently been the most inconsistent position on defense. Now that reliable veteran safety Adrian Amos left in free agency, the Packers will need several players to step up and fill that absence.
Despite some flashes of excellence, former first-round safety Darnell Savage has often struggled in coverage and with his tackling. After an overall down year in 2022, the onus is on Savage to rebound and play better on a more consistent basis, especially since he is entering the final year of his contract.
While Savage is likely to start this season at one of the safety positions, there are multiple contenders to replace Amos. The other projected starter at the start of Packers training camp is the incumbent veteran safety Rudy Ford, who finished last season with three interceptions. Although Ford played well in spurts last season, his play often left a lot to be desired.
Meanwhile, the Packers signed free agent veteran safeties Tarvarius Moore and Jonathan Owens to short-term contracts this past offseason. Although these players are projected to primarily serve on special teams, they are both stout tacklers who provide much-needed stability to the position. In addition, there is an outside chance that seventh-round rookie Anthony Johnson Jr can compete for more playing time as the season progresses.
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