The first week of training camp is in the books. Entering camp, the prevalent story was understandably regarding whether Aaron Rodgers would be a part of the team. With that question answered and put to bed, the roster is beginning to take shape. The first week of camp has provide a lot of insight but no firm answers into some of the key offseason questions:
- Will the defensive line be a weakness this season?
Early in training camp, it looks like the Packers may have gotten a steal in TJ Slaton. So far, he has looked the part of a running stopping nose tackle and primed to contribute this season. A mammoth of a human being, he finished Tuesday’s padded practice with a batted ball that he also intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Beyond that, Dean Lowry has also looked great, coming into camp ready to put a disappointing 2020 behind him. Additionally, the unit got reinforcements today with the signing of Josh Avery. With both Slaton and Lowry looking good along with a healthy Kenny Clark, the defensive line is looking like it will surprise more than a few people this year.
- Who will emerge at the 3rd safety spot?
Joe Barry’s defense runs multiple looks with three safeties on the field, making the 3rd safety position critical. So far it looks like we have a battle on our hands. Early in camp, Vernon Scott filled the role alongside starters Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos with both Henry Black and Will Redmond on the NFI list to start camp. However, Upon Black’s return, he moved into the role. A lot will be determined over the next month, especially during preseason games, but it’s telling that Black immediately supplanted Scott upon being activated. It’s also exciting, as noted by Andy Herman, that Black seeks out contact. The Packers need a stable 3rd safety to emerge to maximize their impact, whether that’s Scott, Black, or one of Redmond or undrafted free agent (UDFA) Christian Uphoff.
- How many receivers will the Packers keep?
So much has changed in just a week for the wide receiver group. First, the Packers traded for veteran Randall Cobb. It’s an exciting addition to a room that will definitely benefit from his leadership and connection with Rodgers. Beyond that, he’s a polished, athletic slot receiver who is picture perfect for Matt LeFleur’s offense. Expect him to perform better than most think. The biggest surprise of camp however has been Juwann Winfree. In nearly every practice, he’s flashed playmaking ability as well as good route running and sure hands. Stacking success is everything for a young player, so hopefully he can carry this early success into the preseason games. On another note, UDFA Bailey Gaither retired on Tuesday. He had flashed early and could have broken through for a practice squad birth. Performance of the overall group will determine how many receivers keep on the main roster versus the practice squad.
- Question with no clear answer: quarterback development.
There’s no question who QB 1 is and that’s Aaron Rodgers. Even without being with the team this offseason Rodgers looks polished and ready to go. However, the development of Jordan Love is a huge question mark. The one word to describe his camp thus far is inconsistent. At one moment, he’s showing exactly why the Packers invested a first round pick in him and another he’s missing open receivers and looking flustered. Many young quarterbacks go through this, but the preseason games will be telling for his future as a starting caliber QB.
This preseason will be a great preview of what is to come this season and who can take the next step to seize the opportunities in front of them. While this is very early of training camp and preseason, one thing is sure; this is a very deep roster that looks Super Bowl caliber so far.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.