Football is finally back! The Packers kicked off training camp last Saturday and there are already some interesting storylines developing.
You have young receivers like Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis trying to show that they deserve playing time in a crowded receiver group. JC Tretter and Corey Linsley are vying to replace Evan Dietrich-Smith at center. And the Packers have a group of seven tight ends all fighting for a chance to be the starter.
But with the first week of training camp coming to an end, and the first preseason game just a little over a week away, here are the 5 storylines I am most interested in.
The Safety Battle
Micah Hyde continues to get reps with the first team defense on the other side of veteran Morgan Burnett, while 1st round pick, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remains with the second team. On Sunday, Mike McCarthy praised Hyde’s transition to safety as “seamless,” and by all accounts, he has looked excellent in training camp. Even if he isn’t able to beat out Hyde for the starting job, Clinton-Dix should still see plenty of playing time in the Packer’s sub packages.
The Resurgence of Raji
It’s been less than a week, but BJ Raji has looked more like his 2010 self, rather than the disappointing version the Packers have seen the past 2 years. He has routinely won his one on one battles, and he looks like a man on a mission. Maybe the return to nose tackle has made the difference, or maybe having to sign back with the Packers on a one year prove it deal has motivated him, but whatever the reason, the Packers can only hope they have an explosive, motivated Raji once the season starts.
Casey Hayward’s Return
The re-signing of Sam Shields, the selection of HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Micah Hyde’s transition to safety have all been bigger storylines this offseason than the return of Casey Hayward. But Hayward’s return might be a bigger boost to the Packer’s defense than anyone they drafted, or even the free agent signing of Julius Peppers. After missing most of last season with a hamstring injury, it’s easy to forget just how good Hayward was in 2012 when he defended 21 passes, had 6 interceptions, and finished 3rd in voting for defensive rookie of the year. Having Hayward’s playmaking ability back in the secondary should be huge for the Packer’s defense.
Injuries Again Sideline Perry and Worthy
Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy are two Players who needed to have a strong training camp to help establish their places on the roster, but Perry has started training camp on the PUP list with a foot/knee injury, and Worthy was not cleared to play due to a lower back injury. Considering his high draft status and the need for pass rushers, I find it highly unlikely that the Packers would part with Perry after just 2 injury plagued seasons, but Worthy’s roster spot is a little more tenuous. It was revealed Wednesday that Worthy had surgery on his back, but there has not been a timeline established for his return. If Worthy can’t get healthy in the next month, he could be a roster casualty.
Colt Lyerla Has Failed to Impress
Lyerla was the Packers biggest and most controversial undrafted free agent signing. Although it was thought that he had a skill set that warranted a first or second day selection in May’s draft, his off field issues kept him from being drafted at all. But over the first week of training camp, Lyerla has failed to impress, dropping 2 passes during Saturday’s practice and another one during Wednesday’s practice. According to Packer Report, the other undrafted rookie tight end, Maine’s Justin Perrilo , has out played Lyerla up to this point. Obviously it’s early, and it’s important to remember that he hasn’t played organized football since October, but if he hopes to make the final 53 man roster, or even the practice squad, Lyerla will need to step up his play over the next few weeks.