Training Camp for the 2019 Green Bay Packer Training Camp began on Wednesday July 24th. There was no shortage of stories right out of the gate, none bigger than the release of veteran DL Mike Daniels. It appears on the surface that Brian Gutekunst and the Packer Personnel office “got played” by at no less than 13 teams concerning Daniels. While the Packers shopped Daniels for a trade, no team showed an interest, yet within hours of his release Daniels had an $8M deal from the Detroit Lions! [The Lions now have added Daniels and Trey Flowers (Patriots, Univ. Ark.) to their defensive front, not bad].
The Packers weren’t exactly quiet on the player signing front this week either, but no marque names appeared. RB Darrin Hall 6.0′ 217 LBs, was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals (G, Larry Williams was released). The Packers also signed RB Corey Grant 5’9″ 203 LBs originally signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars (played in 38 games with 2 starts, 5.6 yd avg. and returned kicks with a 23.6 yd avg) and DL Olive Sagapolu out of University of Wisconsin, 6’2″ 331 LBs, (releasing DL Eric Cotton). The interesting piece about Corey Grant is his kick return ability, 41 kickoffs for 967 yds. (23.6 yd average). Grant could provide legitimate competition for Trevor Davis in the return spot. Davis is additionally fighting for a WR spot on that crowded but talented position group.
Without Mike Daniels, the defensive line surely loses a veteran presence and leader but gains size and youth. I don’t know how many of you remember from last year, but some of the younger defensive players resented Mike Daniels boisterous leadership style. One player, after a tough loss, remarked, “We’re all men, no one needs to talk to us like that. We’re all playing hard.” This after several reporters over heard a Daniels rant in the locker room and shower following one of the many tough losses last season. Many young players, lead by Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry (who signed an extension), Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster, Fadol Brown, James Looney, Deon Simon, now joined by Kingsley Keke, and Olive Sagapolu. Camp began with Lowry, Clark and Adams on the First Team DLine, I would expect the season opener to be the same.
The wide receiver group should be the hottest contested group because it appears to be the most crowded and the most talented. Devante Adams (the obvious leader), Geronimo Allison, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, probably J’Mon Moore all have locked up a roster spot. From there on, it’s a heated competition, Trevor Davis, fan favorite Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard, Teo Redding, Jawill Davis, Darrius Shepherd, and Malik Taylor will all be competing for 1 maybe 2 final WR open spots on the roster.
The running back group realistically appears set with Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams, with the possibility of Danny Vitale finalizing the backfield at FullBack. The rest of the RB group, Tra Carson, Corey Grant and Darrin Hall will be competing for a Special Teams or Practice Squad spot.
Mike Pettine’s defense should continue growth in year two. The Dline as I described above will have size, speed and youth. The linebacker group has also seen big changes with the departure of veteran’s Clay Matthews III, and Nick Perry, but added veterans Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith through Free Agency. In the NFL Draft the Packers drafted highly touted and freak athlete, Rashan Gary, out of Michigan. The linebacker group also returns tackling machine and defensive play caller Blake Martinez, Oren Burks, Kyler Fackrell (10 Sacks 2018), Reggie Gilbert, James Crawford, Kendall Donnerson and Brady Sheldon. The Packers added Curtis Bolton, Randy Ramsey, Greg Roberts and Ty Summers in 2019. A majority of these new linebackers will have to make their mark on Special Teams or head to the Practice Squad.
The rest of the position groups will develop more during camp, but there doesn’t seem to be as much competition for roster spots. I would say the Oline and Dbacks are pretty well set or the competition has been pretty quiet during the first few days of camp. As these positions heat up I’ll discuss them in more depth. As for me, right now, the Dline, WR’s, and LB’s seemed to be the most interesting. That being said, the WR group will be my favorite to watch during camp. I’ve got my choices in that group that I hope will come out in the end, some are a lock of course, but a couple other not so much.
I’m looking forward to the combined practice with the Houston Texans and the following Pre-Season match-up on August 8th. What a great idea for the Texans to participate in the “bike ride,” to practice and for Wisconsin fans to be able to see JJ Watt, who recently came off the PUP list.
Let’s enjoy the ride folks!!! America’s “real” Game has started and I can’t wait for the regular season to begin and see who makes that final Green and Gold roster!!!
As Always, Go Pack Go!
PackerGregPackerGreg Veteran/Go Army @DrGTP on Twitter