Packers XLV

Ten Things I Want To See at Packers Training Camp

Posted July 21st, 2014 @ 04:07pm

Greetings everyone, I've come out of my offseason stupor ready for football and ready to (hopefully) keep you coming back every few days to read my latest thoughts on the '14 Packers. First, a bit of news, "Packer Preview" will return to its one hour length in this, our 19th season on the home of the Vikings, KFAN. We're on early: 7am-8am, but feel free to podcast it whenever is convenient on Sunday mornings at either kfan.com or iTunes.

With camp opening this weekend, here are the 10 things I'm hoping to see emerge as we creep closer and closer to the opener in Seattle.

1. No significant injuries: Ooh, that's insightful. Most fans are dying to see a few injuries shake up the roster during the summer. But seriously, nothing derails optimism like early injuries such as the one we saw Bryan Bulaga suffer before preseason games even started. Seeing the Bills' emerging star Kiko Alonso go down with a torn ACL in private workouts reminds us that training camp is a daily minefield and all position and roster battles are less important than making sure everyone stays healthy.

2. The tight end battle: While some Packer fans continue to hold out hope that Jermichael Finley will be resigned, I'd still be shocked to see it--despite Finley's cryptic tweets. The job is wide open as we enter camp, with Andrew Quarless the likely guy initially sitting atop the depth chart. While he had a nice stretch right after Finley's injury, he screams backup to me and I'd like to see either rookie Richard Rodgers or Brandon Bostick jump up and grab the job during camp and in preseason games. A Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection rolls the best off the tongue, but Bostick, if recovered from injury, may be more ready to step right in and take advantage of the situation. He flashed nicely last season and has a ton of uspide. Of course, the wildcard here is Colt Lyerla, who could end up the offensive weapon that everyone is talking about in December, or could end up crashing and burning in August with an off the field dustup.

3. Ha Ha flashes: Wouldn't it be great to see Micah Hyde start with the ones and then Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks so good in practice that the coaches decide they can't keep him off the field? With the Packers getting virtually nothing from their last three #1 picks, here's hoping the former 'Bama safety ends that run. The defense is dying for a big-hitting, playmaking safety to fortify the back end and the rookie seems to have all the intangibles to become that guy, beginning with a solid work ethic and willingness to learn.

4. Rodgers finds a center he loves: He made no secret that he hated to see Evan Dietrich-Smith walk via free agency, but Rodgers gets new centers about as often as he changes girlfriends. Maybe Olivia Munn will be the one. And maybe JC Tretter will grab the center spot and man it for the next five years. The former Ivy Leaguer is coming off a lost rookie season, but finds himself in a position to grab a starting spot on one of the league's most dynamic offenses. Yes, I am aware the pack drafted a center in the fifth round, but there's a reason Corey Linsley was the sixth center drafted. I think it's a long shot he unseats Tretter. It would be great to see some instant chemistry between Rodgers and Tretter and finally get some stability at a position the team has undervalued in recent years.

5. Peppers proves valuable off the field: At 34, the Pack's marquee free agent doesn't figure to get a ton of action in the preseason. But Julius Peppers appears to already have made quite an impression on the other guys on the defense. The way he carries himself and goes about his business has caught his teammates' eye. The departure of Charles Woodson last year removed a respected veteran voice from that unit. Peppers appears ready to fill that void. If joining the Pack has re-energized him, giving him a shot at a Super Bowl ring, he could be just as valuable off the field as he is on. I see him as a situational pass rusher whom Capers will move all over the front seven. If he's vertical in January he could make a play or two when it matters most.

6. Clay plays the role of observer till mid-August: No one figures to gain more from the addition of Peppers than Matthews, who hopes to see less double teams, when the veteran is on the field. Look for the Pack to be extra careful with Clay this summer, making sure his thumb is 100% healed. The defense cannot afford another season where he misses five or six games. I'll be happy to see very little of #52 this summer.

7. Rodgers' understudy: A big question mark we all have is whether the Packers will carry two or three QBs this season. They're already eons ahead of last year's depth chart with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien on board. The presumed result is that Flynn will be Rodgers' backup and Ted Thompson will have to decide whether he feels he can afford to carry three QBs, at the expense of another position. But don't be surprised if Tolzien outplays Flynn in the preseason and wins the job. I know, Flynn kept the team's playoff hopes afloat last year, while Tolzien was underwhelming. But McCarthy really likes Tolzien and having him learn in his offseason program will likely cause him to look a lot more polished and confident this season.

8. The #3 wide receiver: Jarrett Boykin starts the year here, but with three rookies he's going to look like he's always shaking his head as he constantly looks over his shoulder. This is a position that notoriously takes most rookies longer to master and feel comfortable, but Davante Adams has a chance to replace James Jones from day one. He should be a solid red zone target, something the Packers need desperately with the losses of Jones and Finley--an area the team really struggled in last season. He struggled in minicamp, but he'll likely look a lot different with pads on and with a few weeks of getting comfortable. Former Badger Jared Abbrederis also has a shot to play in multiple receiver sets, but will most likely earn his chops as a returner. He'll be given every opportunity to win that job.

9. Bulaga regains his form: OK, he hasn't been a world beater, but the former #1 pick could really help stabilize the line this season. With David Bakhtiari performing better than we could have hoped when he stepped in at left tackle last season, the team can feel good about moving Bulaga back to the right side. Don Barclay was okay last year, particularly as a run blocker, but it would be nice to have him as a utility guy, with Bakhtiari and Bulaga serving as solid bookends on the offensive line.

10. Young D-line shows some nastiness: You gotta love Mike Daniels speaking up and promising that this unit will be meaner and tougher. We know it will be younger, with the losses of Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly. Dom Capers' 3-4 will go as far as the defensive line goes. The team simply must be better up front. BJ Raji's return to the nose and playing for a big contract should provide more results in the middle and Daniels is emerging as a very good player. Now the team needs last year's #1 pick Datone to take a jump and hope that rookie Kyhri Thornton and someone within the group of Guion, Worthy and Boyd steps up.

 

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Comments (15):

ROFLMAO.

on August 1st, 2014 at 02:20pm

Well Bill the Voice of Unreason--maybe this is finally the year you sack-up and meet me for a game/event. That way we can settle things once and for all......

on August 1st, 2014 at 07:07am

The key on defense will really be the front 3 D line Just gotta make some plays this year, particularly in December & January

on August 2nd, 2014 at 07:59am

Thankfully, it's been a quiet offseason...just the way I like it. My hopes for training camp are to get everyone through it without injuries, and that the rookies and 2nd year guys step up and contribute.

on July 22nd, 2014 at 01:03pm

Glad to be able to hear PP for a full hour. WO ? the best "hour" in the entire week on Viqueens radio. GO PACK!!!!!!!!

on July 22nd, 2014 at 10:18am

I noticed you capitalized "OLD"...does that mean anything special? :-)

on July 23rd, 2014 at 02:17pm

Nice to see the posts from you Davy. Also nice to see a post from Bill the Voice of occasional reason. Wild Bill I hope you are enjoying your summer with a few New Glarus. Davy...a great Top Ten to follow. My initial interest is in Colt Lyerla who ex teammates of his at Oregon have called a great talent when "motivated ". We have seen many guys like this but a fast pass catching tight end would be great. On the way to a vacation in Door County we stopped at Lambeau Field,,,,to catch the Pack aura. GO PACK GO !!

on July 23rd, 2014 at 11:09am

Voice....I always cap the "OLD".

on July 24th, 2014 at 08:55pm

So you really are "OLD"...in the big picture, that makes two of us. :-)

on July 25th, 2014 at 04:15pm

Going in as one of the prime title contenders the Packers do have a lengthy list of questions to answer during camp and preseason. Starting center, tight end replacement for Finley.improvement of safety play, how Julius Peppers will be deployed, wide receiver depth, back-up quarterback will all provide plenty to cover and discuss. I'd add getting some first and other prime draft choices of recent years to finally show. This is the year first round picks Brian Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Nick Perry, and Datone Jones and second rounder Jerel Worthy have to demonstrate they were worth it. If they don't measure up or resume with the injuries it may be time for the club to cut its losses and move on from them. And how about seeing if somebody can emerge as a good return man, without having to risk Randall Cobb or Micah Hyde; who will be busy at wr and safety respectively. The Packers can make a little franchise history this year. If they win the NFC North for a fourth straight season it'll be a new club record for consecutive division winning seasons. If they make the playoffs for a sixth straight year it'll tie the mark in that category set by the 1993-98 teams.

on July 27th, 2014 at 06:06am

Cane..you actually think nothing has been done to address the defense this offseason? Seriously?!? Adding Peppers and Dix, and getting Matthews healed was nothing? IIRC, last season the mission was to fix the running game, and lo and behold, it was fixed. Now the attention has been turned to the D, and appropriate steps have been taken. We'll see in a little over a month if it works out. You think TT needs to go? How about TT for MVP instead? It would be closer to the truth. Just sayin'...(Geez, we're already getting into midseason form here!)

on July 29th, 2014 at 02:28pm

Green Bay has one of the worst D's in the league 3 seasons in a row---let's give Jordy Nelson $40 million. That's should fix things. Only in Green Bay. Time to put old Ted T. out to pasture with The Head Cheese....

on July 29th, 2014 at 08:49am

Yay for the return of the 60 min PP! Getting set to make the trek over for Training Camp next month. Go Pack Go!!

on July 30th, 2014 at 08:18pm

Time will tell if signing Peppers was a good move or not. Nobody wins anything on July 31st (except maybe the Vikings - they're always the offseason champs and nothing more).

on July 31st, 2014 at 07:57pm

Bill the Voice of the Short Bus--Peppers has been NOTHING in Chicago the last 2 seasons (your fearless leader THC has confirmed as much on his radio show during that time). Now he's a Packer and is gonna forget he's 35 and sucks? Hahahaha. What a joke of a signing.

on July 31st, 2014 at 10:01am

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