As training camp approaches, coaches around the league are figuring out their depth charts and trying to find out which players give their team the best chance at winning the ultimate prize, the Vince Lombardi Trophy. While most of the focus should be on the starting jobs, much of the debate during training camp and the preseason is about who will win the backup jobs. Whether it is the battle for the backup quarterback position, to the under the radar battle for the long snapper, position battles are what make the preseason fun to watch. While the Green Bay Packers are set at most of their positions, there are some battles to keep an eye on.
Backup tight end
In my opinion, with no other major experience at the tight end spot, Andrew Quarless looks like he is going to be the starter. Considering how well he played at the end of last year, I think Quarless earned the starting role. Behind Quarless for the backup spot is wide open.
Right now, I would say Brandon Bostick is the favorite for the role. Bostick scored a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles, and is the only other tight end with some experience. His competition for the spot is against two rookies. Richard Rodgers was drafted in the third round out of California, but only caught two touchdowns in his college career. Lyerla showed some serious potential at Oregon, but left the program after some off the field issues. The backup tight end race is wide open and Bostick is the early front runner.
Third string cornerback
Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are the Packers top cornerbacks. Shields was just given a brand new contract and Williams is entering a contract year. But, if Williams keeps up his level of play, he too will get a new contract. Behind those two, the battle for the third corner is between two players who impressed during their rookie seasons. During his rookie season, Casey Hayward led the Packers defense with eight interceptions. Unfortunately, Hayward was out for most of last year with various injuries.
Hayward’s misfortune was Micah Hyde’s opportunity. Hyde got playing time right away in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers and as the season went on, Hyde impressed in more ways than one. This included the return game where he returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings and almost had another against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Considering that Hayward played a little bit better in his one season, I would give him the edge heading into training camp, but Hyde is not far behind him. Whoever “loses” this battle gives the Packers an extraordinary fourth corner.
Third string wide receiver
The third and final position battle that I am keeping an eye is for the third wide receiver spot. After James Jones left for the Oakland Raiders during the offseason, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson head into camp as the top two receivers. The battle to take Jones’ spot is like the battle for the backup tight end. After the Packers receiving corps suffered many injuries, Jarrett Boykin stepped up against the Cleveland Browns and became a force to be reckoned with. While Boykin did have his struggles, he still showed that he could be an under the radar threat for the Aaron Rodgers. However, in the second round of this year’s draft, wide receiver Davante Adams from Fresno State was selected by the Packers, an interesting move considering that general manager Ted Thompson does not draft wide outs that high.
The couple of exceptions are Cobb and Nelson, who were also taken in the second round. Even though Boykin played good when he was given the opportunity, I do not believe Adams was taken so high to sit behind three other guys. He led Fresno State in pretty much every career statistic. Now he gets to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. Boykin goes into camp with the spot, but might leave without it.
While those are just some of the battles I am watching, there are plenty of more that might fly under the radar. If there is one problem the Packers do not have it is lack of depth. There is depth are every position, and that is what makes this team dangerous for the upcoming season.