Unexpectedly, we have seen the Green Bay Packers miss the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, which I for one would have never expected in the Aaron Rodgers era.
As a result, we have seen a number of changes take place this past offseason. From an almost entirely new coaching staff to an active approach to free agency that we as Packers fans just aren’t accustomed to.
Given the new offensive scheme and the overall new faces at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, I have a number of burning questions that will hopefully be answered once we get into training camp and into the preseason.
I’m sure there are many more questions than what I have here that we will want answers to, but these are a few that came to mind as we look ahead to Packers Training Camp.
1. Who will emerge as the number two receiver?
With the departure of Randall Cobb, this is a spot that is up for grabs and there are a number of players who could fill the role.
Geronimo Allison is the next most experienced and was on pace for a breakout season in 2018 before ending up on the IR. The slot receiver plays an important role in Matt LaFleur’s offense and through OTAs and mini-camp, we have seen Allison take a number of snaps there.
The other stand out during the offseason programs was Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has taken on a leadership role and made some big plays in the practices.
We also have Equanimeous St. Brown who has impressed new receivers coach Alvis Whitted, Jake Kumerow who once again has received high praise from Aaron Rodgers, and J’Mon Moore who is looking to bounce back in 2019.
This is going to be one of the more intriguing positional battles in camp and it will be a lot of fun to watch.
2. Who will win the backup quarterback role?
While last year we saw the Packers keep three quarterbacks on the roster, given needs at other positions this season, I think it’s likely they only keep two this season.
DeShone Kizer has had his fair share of struggles over his first two seasons, while Tim Boyle has become a fan favorite and flashed some potential, but in his limited preseason action, he made numerous mistakes as well.
While I expect Kizer to come out on top, it will be close and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
3. Will Lane Taylor hold on to the starting LG spot?
Both guard positions were a major issue last season for the Packers, to say the least. To remedy this, the Packers would bring in free agent Billy Turner who will take over at right guard and drafted Elgton Jenkins in the second round.
Last season, Taylor would give up eight sacks and 36 total pressures and while we hope he bounces back in 2019, we don’t know for sure that he will.
Meanwhile, Jenkins is a proven pass protector at Mississippi State and only allowed three sacks over his college career. And in Matt LaFleur’s zone running scheme, Jenkins is just a better fit with his athleticism and ability in open space than Taylor is.
Jenkins should push Taylor for starting reps during training camp.
4. Can Oren Burks take over the number two ILB role?
The inside linebacker position is perhaps the thinnest on the team as after the uber-reliable Blake Martinez, there are a number of question marks on the roster.
Green Bay traded up in last year’s draft to grab Burks but he had a tough rookie season. He struggled to diagnose plays and to identify his coverage assignments, and as a result, he rarely saw the field.
Burks skill set is very complimentary to Martinez’ and if he can make the year two jump, this could be a very good duo. Hopefully, we see him take that step forward.
5. Mason Crosby or Sam Ficken?
We saw Crosby have a difficult 2018 season where he would go 1/5 on field goal attempts in a game against Detroit and miss game-winning or tying field goals against Minnesota and Arizona.
To create some competition this summer, the Packers signed Sam Ficken over the offseason. And while he is inexperienced, he’s gotten off to a good start during OTAs and mini-camp and has competed well so far with Crosby.
However, once the stakes get higher I’d expect the veteran Crosby with his experience alone to prevail, but this is definitely something to keep our eyes on moving forward.
6. Will Josh Jones be on the team come week one?
Just before OTAs began, Jones had requested that the Packers either trade or release him. But as of now, it would appear that Green Bay has no intentions of doing either.
After the offseason acquisitions of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, Jones saw the writing on the wall and knew he wasn’t going to see as much playing time at safety.
With that said, he can still provide value to this team at the Morgan Burnett linebacker/safety hybrid role as well as on special teams. My hope is that the Packers and Jones can work this out, but there’s still a good chance that he is dealt.
7. What will happen at tight end?
The tight end position is expected to play a much bigger role in the Matt LaFleur offense than it did under former head coach Mike McCarthy’s system.
Of the four main tight ends on the roster during offseason programs, Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis are on the back nine of their careers, while Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger still need a lot of development. And not to mention that none of them are the “prototypical” tight ends in LaFleur’s offense.
To create more competition, the Packers have recently claimed Pharoah McKever and Michael Roberts off waivers, who may be long shots to make the final roster but you never know for sure, especially given the current options on the roster at tight end.
I would be shocked if the Packers don’t keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster once again, but outside of Sternberger, is anyone else guaranteed a roster spot?
8. Can Kevin King stay healthy?
When on the field over his two-year career, King has been a reliable option at cornerback for the Packers. However, of 32 potential games, King has played in only 15 of them.
It really feels like it’s a now or never season for King who has already missed a few practices for precautionary reasons. This has resulted in rookie Ka’dar Hollman taking snaps with the first and second-team defenses.
If King can’t be on the field for Summer programs, he could slowly begin to lose snaps to players like Hollman or Tony Brown.
9. Who will be the third safety?
Since the days of Nick Collins, the Packers have struggled to find consistent play from the safety position. But with the new duo of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage now on the team, we will hopefully see different results in 2019.
However, after Amos and Savage, we still don’t know who will be the third option, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Josh Jones.
Raven Greene had shown a lot of promise in 2018 and has taken snaps at the hybrid linebacker/safety role in OTAs, but overall he is still a bit of an unknown. We also have Mike Tyson and Natrell Jamerson competing for playing time as well.
I would say as of now that Greene is the favorite to take over that role, but will he seize control during training camp?
As I mentioned above, there are many more questions to be answered during Training Camp, but these are at the top of my list. Feel free to comment below on what player(s) or matchup(s) you will be watching this Summer!