The Green Bay Packers are expected to be one of the top contenders in the NFC again in 2021 with nearly all the starters returning from last year’s 13-3 club that reached the NFC Championship Game. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t position battles going on in training camp right now.
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Here is a look at five position battles that are on going in Packers camp and during the preseason and how they look right now:
The top two safeties are set with Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage giving the Packers one of the best starting duos in the league.
The battle for the third safety spot is still up in the air with incumbent Will Redmond battling with Henry Black and Vernon Scott for that spot.
Redmond has missed significant time in training camp due to injuries. He is a proven special teams player but has struggled when asked to play extensively on defense. Black has looked good in camp so far and appears to be the frontrunner. Scott has also had his moments and needs to continue to show improvement to compete for the position.
This is a battle that is likely to go down to the final days of camp and the final two preseason games will be critical to determine who wins that job.
- Wide Receiver
The Packers have five players who are all but locked in at wide receiver with Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb and rookie Amari Rodgers all but guaranteed roster spots.
That leaves a crowded field of players fighting for one or possibly two remaining roster spots. Thus far, Devin Funchess has looked good in training camp and in the first preseason game although he missed some time in practice this week with a minor injury.
Equanimeous St. Brown has size and potential but has yet to consistently realized that potential in part due to injuries. He has good size and speed.
Juwann Winfree played very well during OTAs and early in training camp but has missed more than a week due to injuries and needs to get healthy again to compete for a spot.
Malik Taylor showed some ability in the first preseason game and needs to show he can participate on offense in addition to special teams.
Darkhorse candidates include former CFL standout Reggie Begelton and Chris Blair.
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- Running Back
The first two spots are taken by Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon but there is a battle for the third running back spot between three players.
The favorite right now is seventh-round pick Kylin Hill who scored the Packers only touchdown against Houston on a screen pass. Hill has looked good on pass patterns and pass blocking which are vital to earning playing time in Matt LaFleur’s offense. He also has the most upside of the three candidates for the spot.
Dexter Williams is entering his third training camp with the Packers. He was the only running back who was effective on the ground last week against the Texans. Williams has proved he can run well but needs to improve his ability to protect the quarterback and catch passes out of the backfield to earn a roster spot.
Patrick Taylor has good size and receiving ability but he was injured early in training camp which set him back a bit. The former Memphis star adds a different skill set than Jones and Dillon but needs to show the coaching staff he’s ready for the job.
There are two starting guard spots up for grabs right now with Elgton Jenkins moving over to left tackle until David Bakhtiari is healthy again.
Last year’s incumbent right guard Lucas Patrick is a tough and gritty player but he had a poor showing against Houston and will not start against the Jets in the second preseason game.
Jon Runyan, Jr. is looking to claim one of the starting jobs along with fellow former Michigan Wolverine Ben Braden. Both Runyan and Braden can play guard and tackle and Runyan even took some snaps at center against the Texans. Braden shined in OTAs and early in camp while Runyan made solid showings last season when asked to fill in at guard when injuries struck.
Rookie Royce Newman has looked good in camp and is coming on. He will start against the Jets at one guard spot and a strong showing could put him in the driver’s seat for one of the starting spots.
This battle for the two starting spots will be one of the biggest in the final two preseason games and in the rest of training camp.
Jaire Alexander is the established top cornerback on the team and he’s one of the top shutdown corners in the league. Chandon Sullivan appears to be in the driver’s seat for the “star” spot and will be the nickel corner.
But the second spot outside is right now a battle between incumbent Kevin King and first round pick Eric Stokes. King was injured early in the training camp but recently returned to practice. The coaching staff already said King or any other player will not lose their job to injury.
Stokes has outstanding speed but needs to work on his technique and ball skills. He has a good work ethic and attitude but is he ready to start in Week 1? The Packers want to see him earn the position but they won’t rush him into the lineup either. He has already impressed Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers who are both trying to push him to improve in training camp.
Expect Stokes to take over as CB2 at some point this season if he continues to progress. The big question is when.
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