Three players the lack of a structured offseason hurt the most

With the NFL offseason looking to be on schedule to start later in the month of July, the Green Bay Packers, just like every other team in the league, will be forced to deal with the shorter offseason, which also involves fewer preseason contests. The lack of offseason workouts and team activities will surely help keep the players healthier in the long run, but it also hurts the players that are looking to make an impact and earn playing time this upcoming season.

On both sides of the ball, the Packers have a plethora of players that are looking to make names for themselves, regardless of if it is for a starting role or just a role that includes playing time at all. Here are three of the most impacted players that could be hurt by the shortened offseason.

Devin Funchess

The ‘splashy’ offseason addition made by GM Brian Gutekunst, the former Carolina Panthers receiver looks to have an inside track to being in the top three of the wide receiver depth chart, although the top option is untouchable since Davante Adams has a hold on that.

But for Funchess, jumping into a new offensive scheme is going to be a bit tougher, especially with having had less on-field time with the rest of his offensive teammates. Being on the same page with Aaron Rodgers is key for any receiver, as Adams can attest to, and with Funchess bringing a sense of verticality and height to the roster, options like fades and shorter stick routes can be an avenue that this team can take advantage of more in 2020.

That valuable, in-person time spent with members of the offensive coaching staff as well as the players is something that cannot really be replaced by simply studying the playbook and running through Zoom calls, so hopefully, Funchess’ tenure in GB is something that recovers quickly if he starts slowly.

Kingsley Keke

The 6-3, 288-lb. defensive tackle, who is heading into his sophomore campaign, is being looked at as a very important piece to the defensive line puzzle that is not named Kenny Clark.

The former Texas A&M DL has been talked up by Mike Pettine this offseason, even though his opportunities (94 defensive snaps in ‘19) were quite limited.

“He was a guy that as the year went on he got his opportunities in there, he was productive for us,” Pettine said. “That’s somebody that we’re looking forward to having a much more increased role.”

That increased role will be integral to keeping Clark fresh and having him on the field just a little less, to make sure that he is able to be out where it matters the most.

Keeping Clark fresh is going to be the best role that Keke can help fill in the ‘20 season, and even though he has been on the roster for a season already, the shortened offseason may be a bump in the road for Keke to be able to prove that he is able to rise to that position.

Christian Kirksey

The flashy defensive addition in free agency this offseason is Christian Kirksey, the former Cleveland Browns linebacker that, only due to injuries, he has been struggling lately in the NFL. But he represents a good buy-low addition that the defense could certainly benefit from, especially in their linebacker core.

The former Iowa Hawkeye is heading into his seventh season in the league, but a huge proponent into his fast learning is that he has been a member of a Pettine-led defense in the past, which will be very helpful. However, the scheme that Pettine runs has obviously changed over the years, meaning that Kirksey will be a bit behind the eight ball with the lack of offseason.

In his prime, Kirksey has had seasons of 133 and 145 tackles, along with 2.5 – 3.5 sacks. While his turnover numbers are not very high (2 career INTs and 4 career FFs), Kirksey is a force (when healthy), so in hindsight, maybe the shortened offseason can help him use even more time to recover.

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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

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