Training camp is here! Well, almost here. With Rookies set to report to Packers training camp on Friday, the start of the 2022 season is right around the corner. This training camp and preseason, Green Bay will look to construct a roster capable of making a championship run. Many positions are already locked in, but there are three critical questions the Packers must answer over the next seven weeks.
Who will emerge at the 3rd safety spot?
One of the more surprising things about the Packers offseason was the lack of attention put towards the safety position. During his first year with the Packers, Joe Barry relied heavily on three safety sub-packages. This allowed him to play lighter boxes against the run while also keeping speed on the field. If he wants to continue this in 2022, the Packers must quickly identify who will play that role.
Behind entrenched starters Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage is a group of athletic unknowns. Last year’s third safety, Henry Black is no longer with the team. Holdover Vernon Scott didn’t play a single snap in 2021 and is a huge question mark. He flashed last year in preseason, but an injury derailed his season. Innis Gaines spent most of last year on the practice squad, but could make a second year leap. Rookie Tariq Carpenter has the look of a special teams player as he adjusts to the NFL. New addition, former 2021 Colts 5th round pick Shawn Davis, seems to be the early favorite but it’s hardly a lock.
If nobody emerges quickly, the Packers could quickly look to bring in outside help to fortify the position to allow the flexibility Barry desires on defense.
How will the wide receiver depth chart shake out?
Debatably the biggest storyline of the training camp will be how the receiving unit develops. After the trade of All Pro Davante Adams to the Raiders, the Packers have reimagined the room. They brought in veteran Sammy Watkins and then followed that up by acquiring three more receivers in the draft.
Christian Watson is the highlight of the receiving draft picks and while admittedly a raw prospect brings a set of athletic traits few have in the NFL. If the second round pick can adapt to the NFL quickly, he could be in line for a big role during his rookie season. Fourth round pick Romeo Doubs was a highly productive receiver at Nevada and boosts big play ability. His ability to break the big play might just be his foot in the door. On the tail end, seventh rounder Samori Toure surprised some during OTAs and minicamp and can’t be forgotten in such an open depth chart.
Along with holdover veterans Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, and 2nd year player Amari Rodgers it could be argued that every position is up for grabs. It will be so important these players stack success throughout training camp and earnt the trust of both Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers.
Will Special Teams be better?
Packers Fans must be so sick of asking this question. Last year it was ‘Special Teams can’t be worse than it was last year (2020)’. Then, Green Bay went out and demonstrated that it could absolutely be worse. At no point did the 2021 special teams units look competent. Even the simplest things, like getting 11 men on the field, was a challenge.
It’s no surprise then that a critical question is whether they can turn the corner and field a competent unit. New coach Rich Bisaccia, a seasoned special teams coach, has his work cut out for him. Before he can even identify his core players on the roster, he is going to need to teach how a competent special teams unit operates. After that, it will be transitioning to finding the players that want to be a part of his units and are willing to execute his schemes.
The Specialists are also under a spotlight. Mason Crosby had an poor season in 2021, but how much of that was from the chaos surrounding him is unknown. He will need to return to his consistent self in 2022 to avoid the Packers looking elsewhere. While he has limited competition on the roster in Gabe Brkic, kickers are always competing against all other kickers available in the NFL. At Punter, the Packers made another change, looking for former Bear Pat O’Donnell to stabilize the position. He is the definition of a league average punter, but knows how to compete in the cold and is a solid holder.
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.