The offseason is just about to come to a close as the Packers start training camp July 26th. The stretch between the Packers last game until training camp can feel pretty long, but thankfully the players are back in Green Bay and we are back to football. As I’ve mentioned before,training camp is one of my favorite times of the season. Everything feels new for all 32 NFL teams. The slate is clean of the past season and everyone has a shot at the Lombardi.
The Packers offense is especially ready for a new start. The offense ranked #21 in the league in total offense. Week after week we saw so many breakdowns. Some of this is due to the fact that Rodgers wasn’t on the field for most of the season. It’s hard to be competitive when you have the best quarterback in the league on the sidelines due to injury. Hundley was 29th in passing in 2017. In an offense like McCarthy likes to run this simply has to be better. We will see big changes at the receiver position, the offensive line will be moved around and we’ll see Jimmy Graham step up as the next tight end. With training camp here lets take a look at what we could see during training camp, who to watch for and what drills to keep an eye on.
The offensive line is one of the best positions to watch at camp. When these guys get the pads on they like to hit. If you’re attending camp you will see a lot of work on combination blocks, one on one drills and pass protection. The offensive line always has some interesting E.D.Ds, or every day drills. These are things these guys will rep through every day at practice. This usually includes working on firing out low which they will do with a chute, walking through blocking assignments and working on punching and driving to simulate run blocking.
The big story line going in to camp with the offensive line is the right side of the line. I expect Justin McCray to step in at the right guard. Jahari Evans did some decent things for the offensive line but won’t return in Green Bay. I’ve heard a lot of positive talk on Evans. He’s a hard-nosed run blocker and looked decent in pass protection. He’s a very flexible guy and can play multiple spots on the offensive line. The biggest thing for him is footwork. I’d like to really see his footwork improve as he’ll have to work on mirroring the interior defensive lineman on rushes. He’s a decent pull blocker which will help the counter and trap game.
Jason Spriggs could be starting out at the right tackle position if Bulaga isn’t healed up. I think week 1 of the regular season he should be good to go, but rehabbing a torn ACL is something that shouldn’t be rushed. Bulaga is a veteran and has proved himself on the offensive line, so I’d like to see him take it a little easy during camp. We know how good he can be and I’m confident he’ll have himself ready. Spriggs, however, has some work to do. He’s shown flashes of promise and then some downright bad offensive line play. The only way to get better is reps, and those preseason and training camp reps are more valuable than ever.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
This is going to be one of the more exciting camps for wide receivers. With Nelson gone it’s time for someone to step up. Jordy offered so many things in the pass game. His get off, breakdowns and cuts were a thing of beauty. With Nelson out of titletown I can only imagine that the wide receiver group is looking to Davante Adams as the leader. Early in Adams career I remember being such a critic of his. After the way he has played the last couple of seasons I’ve turned in to a big fan of his. Adams offers a lot for the offense in the vertical game. On tape he shows that he is so quick to push-off of the line of scrimmage and get vertical. He adjusts well to the ball and has good hands. Adams is also one of the better blocking wide receivers which is extremely valuable in stretch plays and sweeps.
One of the wide receivers that I’m really excited to see is rookie J’Mon Moore. Moore is a typical X receiver, or the receiver that plays closest toward the boundary. I think he can be utilized well in McCarthy’s offense. His college tape while he was at Missouri was impressive. His quick cuts and jabs really threw off corners when playing a press man look. I’d like to see him run with the starters during the 11 on 11 period of camp. I want to see how he looks against starting defensive backs. That’ll be a true test for him and will only make him better.
When it comes to the tight end position I think we are all thrilled to see Jimmy Graham in Titletown. Graham can be used as the #2 or #3 receiver in the red zone and be dangerous on the fade route. He is especially good when detached from the line of scrimmage running out routes, snags, and slants. I’d like to see the offense implement some tight end screens and use him more in that way.
Marcedes Lewis will be another one to keep an eye on. Lewis is a good veteran who can maybe take some younger guys under his wing. He came in to the league in 2006 and has done some good things in his time at Jacksonville. Lewis is a good blocking tight end and is especially dangerous when blocking then slipping off in the pass game. He sells the initial block so well that it gets the linebackers to bite.
The running back position won’t see any new faces during camp, but it will be interesting to see how each of the guys are used. A big story line is that Aaron Jones will be sitting out the first 2 weeks of the season, but he will still get to practice at camp. Will that affect his reps during 11 on 11 period? We will see. One thing I do know is that the offense is sitting pretty cozy with the group of running backs that are on the team. Montgomery, Jones, and Williams all offer something different that helps this offense put points on the board.
Montgomery is a quick runner in the zone game and get can to the edge quickly. He also is a threat out of the backfield in the pass game, which his years at receiver certainly helped. Jones is more of a quick downhill runner. He really impressed me out of 21 personnel on dive and lead plays. I think Williams could be a good third down back. He is always good in short yardage situation when the offense needs a short 2-3 yards. Don’t sleep on Devante Mays during camp. He gets a good amount of carries during the preseason and can do some good things. McCarthy said the Packers would like to have ‘running back by committee’ this year. I like that approach. It will be an interesting battle to watch this year.
When it comes to the fullbacks you can expect Ripkowski to carry the load of course. Joe Kerridge will be the backup fullback and usually gets a fair amount of reps on special teams. I like to see the offense use fullbacks because it takes a hard-nosed blocking back to square up and block a middle linebacker on a lead play.
It will be so good to see Rodgers back in pads and healthy. The big story with the quarterbacks is the battle for the #2 position. I think Hundley will leave camp as the #2 quarterback simply because of his knowledge of the system. I think Kizer is overall the more athletic of the 2. Kizer has a good frame and a good release on the ball. I think Kizer will eventually work his way in to the #2 spot but not during camp.
I’m excited for camp to finally be here. Before we know it we will be watching live football before you know it. Like I said in my defensive training camp preview, if you haven’t ever attending Packers training camp you definitely should. There is no better chance to check out these position battles and get an up and close look at the 2018 Packers.
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