Football season is officially going to be back in full swing next week in Green Bay. The Packers have set dates for their first three training camp practices starting on July 27 at Ray Nitschke Field. Leading up to the start of Packers training camp let’s give a rookie preview for some of the new faces looking to secure a starting job.
The Packers rookie who seems to have the highest expectations entering training camp is easily wide receiver, Christian Watson. Watson was selected No. 34 overall in April’s draft after the Packers traded picks No. 53 and No. 59 to take him early in the second round. Watson’s size and speed offer a rare combination that the Packers could deploy on offense immediately this season. On Wednesday, ahead of the start of training camp, Watson officially signed his rookie deal becoming the last Packers draft pick to do so.
With his contract now official, it’s time for Watson to return to the practice field and continue showcasing his talents. Watson has a huge opportunity in training camp to battle out for a plethora of vacated snaps as a starter in the Packers offense. He also has a major goal to achieve playing alongside quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will be fully back at practice.
Watson will need to earn the trust of his quarterback and start establishing some chemistry during the next few weeks of the offseason. If Watson makes a massive impact throughout the next few days, he can earn himself a spot alongside the starting offense by the start of the season.
When the Packers exited the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they left with a pair of Georgia defenders fresh off a National Championship victory. Both rookies look prime to contribute immediately in Green Bay but defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt should be the one to watch closely once training camp begins.
Wyatt will look to use the opportunities he has at training camp to battle for the starting job on the interior of the defensive line alongside Kenny Clark. However, Wyatt will have some tough competition to face off against in Dean Lowry and veteran Jarran Reed, whom the Packers signed this offseason. Wyatt’s athleticism in the middle of the defensive line offers a trait the Packers haven’t had in years.
If he’s able to beat out Lowry and Reed for the No. 2 spot at defensive tackle, Clark will have the best wingman he’s ever had in his entire career in Green Bay. Throughout training camp, I expect the coaches in Green Bay to fall in love with Wyatt’s potential and versatility on the defensive line. Don’t be surprised to see the Packers use Wyatt off the edge as well in different packages to see where he can have the most impact as a starter on defense.
Out of the three Packer’s draft picks on the offensive line, Sean Rhyan appears to be the one most likely to win a starting job in training camp. The main thing with Rhyan is being versatile enough to easily fight for a job at left guard, right guard, or right tackle. General manager Brian Gutekunst was fascinated with Rhyan’s versatility and the Packers have frequently moved tackles inside at guard in the past.
If Rhyan can showcase his power and athleticism throughout training camp, it’d be hard for the Packers to look toward someone else to fill a spot as a starter. Rhyan is a perfect fit for the Packers’ zone blocking scheme, but his top competition will likely come from fellow rookie Zach Tom who also has a shot to secure one of the three open starting jobs during training camp.
Looking at the Packers’ roster as they approach the start of training camp, the weakest position depth-wise is by far the safety position. Outside of the starters in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, the Packers roster is bone dry. The Packers’ main goal in training camp has to be finding their No. 3 guy at the position who can play in a variety of different packages.
Seventh-round rookie safety Tariq Carpenter could prove himself to be that guy for the Packers. At 6-2, 230 pounds, Carpenter has the size and the speed to play a hybrid safety-linebacker role for the Packers which could be perfect in some packages the team shows on defense. Even if his role on defense starts small, Carpenter looks like a lock to start on special teams under new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
“He’s really, really physical,” Gutekunst said. “We’ll figure out exactly how he fits, whether he goes to the linebacker room or safety room at different times and what packages he plays in on defense, but certainly on special teams is one of the reasons we took him.”
A strong defensive showing in training camp could go a long way for Carpenter to have a chance for more opportunities on the field during his rookie season. Showcasing the versatility and physical nature that he’ll bring on defense could make it hard to keep him off the field.
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.