The main purpose of NFL minicamps is to help players get back into playing shape and condition while determining which positional groupings still need more players or talent infused into them. For the Green Bay Packers, their minicamps are even more imperative because of having first-year head coach Matt LaFleur at the helm leading a team with high expectations and a small window to make good on them.
Riding on the back of LaFleur’s offensive background will be key into not only unleashing a more fundamentally sound unit but to also gameplanning to take pressure off of Aaron Rodgers. Through the development of the running and passing games, there are endless ways for this team to turn it around and make 2019 what 2017 and 2018 were planned to be.
However, the more important aspect of minicamps is to flesh out the pecking order for positional groupings before getting to training camp. Here are a few positional areas that mini camps will hopefully address.
Outside of Davante Adams, the depth chart at receiver for the Packers is in a state of flux. With the trio of second-year players in J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown looking to make more of an impact this season, the camp will be imperative to helping determine what the pecking order is.
Stemming from the 2018 season, the rank of receivers should look something just like this:
2- Geronimo Allison
4- St. Brown
5- Jake Kumerow
Teo Redding, a late addition to the practice squad last year, as well as Moore, could all surprise in camp and threaten for some reps in 4 and 5-wide sets, so the team looks to have a good surplus of developing talent to surround Adams with. Allison is a proven commodity out on the perimeter, and his verticality is something no other receiver truly brings to the table.
Trevor Davis also has some potential to thrive in LaFleur’s offense but would project more as an H-back/Slot guy who plays the role similar to Tavon Austin, just better. Davis brings a lot of value in the return game, but he should factor into the offensive game plan more in 2019.
Letting both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews go was pretty much written on the wall when the season ended, which seem to both be good moves with how their production was filled. With the Smiths, Preston and Za’Darius, as well as Rashan Gary added to a group that was surprisingly led by Kyler Fackrell, it went from an area of need to an area of promise.
Both Smiths should be starters in week one for this team, but Gary and Fackrell could rotate inside or into the linebacker ranks, as Mike Pettine loves his multi-tool defenders that can roam the field and wreak havoc everywhere they go. Even with these additions, there needs to be an order devised of how the snap counts should look.
Fackrell may have been a flash in the pan, so Brian Gutekunst looks to be planning to replace his production while keeping him on the roster in more of a situational role, which he could absolutely excel in if he takes advantage of his playing time.
Having shipping HaHa Clinton-Dix out to Washington last season meant that the Packers were looking for two new safeties to quarterback their defense in 2019. Having signed Adrian Amos from da Bears and drafted Darnell Savage out of Maryland at the end of the first round is a clear signal as to who the team has faith in to fill both the strong and free safety roles.
Not held down by positional labels, Pettine should use both Amos and Savage in multitudes of ways this season, including having one rotate down into the box to play the rover, watching the quarterback while disrupting underneath routes and adding another player into the trenches to pressure the QB.
Having played under new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, Amos is a great toy for Pettine to use, and he will use him to his fullest. Being able to spread him throughout the field without worrying about over the top coverage faltering will be crucial to making sure his defensive schemes keep the offense on their toes.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23