The Green Bay Packers will open training camp next week to prepare for the 2022 season. Most experts view the Packers as having a deep and talented roster and as the team gathers for training camp, most of the starting jobs are more or less settled. Yes, there are some battles along the offensive line, but most of the other starters are known quantities barring injuries or a major step forward or back by other players on the roster.
But there are plenty of depth questions across the roster, questions that this team will have to address to fulfill their potential as contenders. Here is a look at the major battles ahead at depth positions along the roster. This does not include special teams although the ability of some of these players to contribute on special teams may factor in to roster decisions made by head coach Matt LaFleur and GM Brian Gutekunst when cuts are made before the season gets started in September.
Who Will Be the Third Running Back?
We know Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are slotted as the top two backs, but the battle for the RB3 spot is open. Last year’s seventh round pick, Kylin Hill, was injured midseason and may not be ready to start the season as he continues to rehab his knee. The Packers are hoping Hill continues to progress in his second season.
Patrick Taylor showed some promise in limited duty after Hill was injured. He is a good receiver out of the backfield and has good size. Taylor would be the favorite if Hill starts the season on the PUP list.
Undrafted free agents B.J. Baylor and Tyler Goodson are also fighting for roster spots or spots on the practice squad. The third running back could become a key player in the offense if either Jones or Dillon were to miss time due to injuries.
Who Will Be the Third Safety?
Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos are the starters but last year’s third safety, Henry Black, is not returning. That leaves several players fighting for the third and fourth safety spots with the third safety more likely to see some regular snaps on defense.
Vernon Scott, Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines, Tariq Carpenter and Tre Sterling are all battling for those two roster spots. Scott is the likely favorite heading into camp but Carpenter’s combination of size and mobility could be intriguing to the coaching staff if the rookie, seventh round pick shows he’s ready for a role on the defense in his first season. Davis looked good at OTAs and minicammp and should also factor into the mix.
Since defenses are only as good as their weakest link, the Packers need somebody to step up and fill this position. Don’t be shocked if Gutekunst adds a player after cuts are made if he’s not happy with the way this group performs in preseason.
Who Is the 4th Cornerback?
The Packers may have the best three starting corners in the league in a healthy Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas. But behind the big three are a lot of unproven players fighting for playing time. Is Shemar Jean-Charles ready to take a step forward in his second season? Is Keisean Nixon more than a special teams ace? Can Rico Gafford add technique to his speed to solidify a roster spot? It’s put up or go home time for Kabion Ento who is now in his fourth training camp with the Packers.
Obviously, if one of the top three corners misses time due to injuries, one of these players must step up and play significant snaps. The Packers need to be confident in their fourth cornerback and the team needs someone to emerge at this position.
Who Is Edge 3?
Rashan Gary and Preston Smith give the Packers two solid starters at edge but depth at this position is full of questions. Neither Tipa Galeai nor Jonathan Garvin have delivered much pressure on opposing quarterbacks during the regular season. Randy Ramsey should be healthy and ready to show what he can do while Ladarius Hamilton is also hoping to make an impression on the coaching staff in camp.
The biggest newcomer is rookie Kingsley Enagbare who the Packers drafted in the fifth round this season. If Enagbare shows enough promise, he has a chance to see snaps on defense.
It is also possible that Gutekunst looks for another veteran like last year’s addition of Whitney Mercilus after cuts are made before the start of the season to give the team a short-term fix at the position.
Training camp is less than a week away. These and other battles should keep things interesting as the team begins work for 2022.
You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers