We are about half way through training camp for the Green Bay Packers, so now is a good time to look at who is leading the battles at key positions.
J.C. Tretter seemed to leave no doubt in Green Bay’s first preseason game that the starting center job is his over rookie Corey Linsley. Tretter follows in the footsteps of Scott Wells and Evan Dietrich-Smith as smaller Packer centers, but he looked like he belonged Saturday night.
Tretter helped clear the way in the run game for James Starks, as he rushed six times for 49 yards. He was a tackle at Cornell, so he got a big early test in ball control in the heavy rain and did not have a single errant snap. His smarts and athleticism to get to the second level should help him in his first year on the job.
“To go out and handle the football the way he did in his first start I think is huge,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s something he personally will have a lot of confidence from, and I know it gives me more confidence to see him play the way he did, especially in that environment.”
Matt Flynn likely still has a lead on Scott Tolzien, but it definitely shrank Saturday night in Tennessee. It was a tough night to evaluate quarterback play due to the rain, but that did not stop Tolzien from putting up good numbers. He completed 8-of-12 passes for 124 yards and a 100.7 passer rating.
Flynn struggled going 5-of-10 passing for 49 yards. His arm strength is not a strong suit of his, and the the bad elements probably made that look worse.
Flynn has proven that he can win for Green Bay in the past, which he will have to fall back on to keep his job if Tolzien continues to play like he did Saturday. It seems unlikely with the potential Tolzien showed last year and how he has looked this year that he would make it through waivers if cut. The Packers might not want to risk only having two quarterbacks on the roster again after what happened last season; so both might make it.
Richard Rodgers has looked like the best tight end on the team all offseason, and he did nothing to change that Saturday. He only had one catch for 10 yards–but it was his blocking that was particularly impressive–especially his block that sprung James Starks loose to finish off a 20-yard touchdown.
Despite questions about his speed Rodgers has looked like a natural route runner with terrific hands as a receiver. He was not asked to block a ton at California, so that was a question mark. However, at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds he has the size to be a good blocker and showed some ability in that area Saturday.
The Packers were not happy with Andrew Quarless’ run blocking towards the end of last year, so if Rodgers can separate himself in there the job should be his. Quarless had another key drop on Saturday, which has been a theme this camp.
It just never seems like Quarless will tun into the player the Packers hoped for. Brandon Bostick had a 24-yard catch and run that was reminiscent of Jermichael Finley. Quarless may not be seeing much playing time with Bostick being a big deep threat and Rodgers looking solid barring injury.
Morgan Burnett’s injury has given the Packers an extensive look at Ha Ha Clinton-Dox and Micah Hyde. Hyde was getting the first team reps with Burnett when Burnett was healthy, but Clinton-Dix may have closed the gap with an exceptional showing in his first preseason game. No matter who starts Clinton-Dix and Hyde should both see a lot of action in the dime personnel.
Clinton-Dix was very good in run support and you could tell just how physical of a player he is. That is something among many things that Green Bay safeties lacked last season. Clinton-Dix missed a tackle on Dexter McCluster, but made some great plays in run support near the line of scrimmage.
He was not really tested much in the passing game, as he had two attempted passes on him and neither were completed. Clinton-Dix showed his closing speed when he got beat badly off the line by Tennessee tight end Taylor Thompson but recovered in time to slap the ball away.