The Green Bay Packers have their final preseason game this Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, which means the regular season is just around the corner and final roster cuts are not too far away.
One positional battle, in particular, is still up in the air and both players find themselves on the roster bubble as well. Of course, I am referring to who will be the Packers’ third running back.
In years past under former head coach Mike McCarthy, we didn’t see much of the third running back on the depth chart unless there was an injury. However, with the frequency that Matt LaFleur uses the running back in his offense, whoever wins the job should see a fair amount of snaps this season.
As we all know, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have the first and second spots locked down, but rookie Dexter Williams and second-year player Tra Carson are in a battle for that third and potentially last running back spot on the roster.
When looking at the two backs, it is quite obvious that Williams is by far the better athlete, he is more explosive and has much more upside potential than Carson.
And when it comes to fitting in LaFleur’s offense, Williams is the exact type of back that he wants on the roster. Williams is a one-cut back which is an ideal fit for the outside-zone running scheme and we’ve seen that explosiveness at times during the preseason. When Williams has the ball he gives the Packers that home run potential on just about any run.
With that said, it’s been Williams’ lack of consistency that has left him behind Carson on the depth chart. While the big play potential is there, we’ve seen plenty of runs that go nowhere as well. Williams has also had issues pass-blocking and catching passes out of the backfield.
As I alluded to above, Carson does not have the overall athleticism or talent that Williams has, but he does the little things correctly and has rarely made a mental mistake. LaFleur has taken notice and it is why he trusts Carson more than Williams at this point:
“Just overall knowledge of knowing what to do, especially when it comes to pass protection,” said LaFleur. “I think Tra has done a really nice job. He runs hard, he finishes forward. There’s been some tough situations for him when he’s been in there where it hasn’t been all that clean at times, but he’s been able to get positive yardage.”
So as we head into the final week of the preseason, both running backs are need of some big performances but it could be Williams who finds himself on the outside looking in.
The Packers will have to decide if they would rather have the talent and potential of Dexter Williams or the reliability of Tra Carsons at the third running back position?
Or a third option that we learned about Saturday, could be trading for a running back. After the Packers decided to release running back Darrin Hall, Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported that GM Brian Gutekunst was working the phones looking for a potential running back to trade for.
Now, I’m here to tell you that won’t be Melvin Gordon as Green Bay is in the market for a role player that could end up being cut by their current team which means a low cost.
Ideally, this running back is someone who could step in right away and make an impact in the passing game, while potentially being a third-down specialist. Some names to keep in mind include T.J. Yeldon, Corey Clement, and Chris Thompson – all of which are proven pass-catchers out of the backfield.
While we do not know how likely it is that a trade will take place, at this time it would appear that it is far more likely that either Williams or Carson will be the team’s third running back and should be a focal point in this last preseason game before a difficult decision has to be made.