Packers Organized Team Activities: Players to Watch in Week One

Mike McGinnis

We examine five key Packers who either need to impress or whose roles will look to be defined starting with this week's OTAs.

With the first round of Organized Team Activities kicking off in Green Bay on Wednesday, the Packers appear to have only a handful of questions about their starting lineups on offense and defense for the 2014 season. However, the rest of the depth chart is very much in question, and the final cut -down to 53 players after training camp will likely be one of the most agonizing in Ted Thompson's tenure.

In light of the team taking the practice field tomorrow, we look at a quintet of players whose position or past production dictate that Packers fans should be paying them close attention during the first round of OTAs.

J.C. Tretter

Center is the only position on the Packers' offense which does not appear to have a 100%, clear-cut starter. Tretter is certainly the assumed incumbent at the position, but the possibility of him being the week-one starter is anything but certain at this point. He'll likely have to fend off rookie Corey Linsley and third-year pro Don Barclay to earn the job in training camp.

Julius Peppers

As the Packers' only big-name veteran acquisition this spring, Peppers' play at linebacker will deserve to be watched closely by fans and coaches alike. Still listed at 6'7" and 287 pounds, Peppers will likely have to lose 15 pounds to have the mobility that the Packers want at the position - that is, if they intend to truly play him out of a two-point stance all season.

Micah Hyde

Much like Mike Neal's rumored switch to outside linebacker a year ago, Hyde is rumored to be switching positions this offseason. Will Hyde remain a slot corner, or are the Packers serious about lining him up more at safety this season? We should learn more about the role they expect Hyde to play this season by observing where he plays during practice this week.

Another interesting note will be how much Hyde participates on return drills with the special teams. If he is taking reps towards the back of the pack with Jared Abbrederis leading the way, that could be a sign that the team wants to move Hyde out of those duties, much like they did a year earlier with Randall Cobb.

Datone Jones

A leg injury cost him a great deal of effectiveness in 2013, starting in training camp and affecting him all season long. This will be the first chance for last year's first-round pick to demonstrate the athleticism that earned him that draft status and show that his lack of impact last year was not a sign of things to come.

DuJuan Harris

Mike McCarthy may have anointed Harris the starter at running back during the 2013 offseason, but with a knee injury sidelining him for the season, Eddie Lacy took over and ran his way to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Now Harris appears to have a 50/50 shot at even making the roster for the upcoming season, as the team's running back squad is crowded with contributors.

James Starks' re-signing means that Harris will likely be fighting for third-team reps with the likes of Johnathan Franklin, Rajion Neal, and LaDarius Perkins, a far cry from his expected role a year ago at this time. Harris can get a leg up on the others by performing well in pass-blocking and showing his knowledge of the Packers' playbook. However, this all depends on how his knee has recovered. If he shows any signs that the explosiveness he ran with late in 2012 has slipped, it will be an uphill climb for him to make the roster this fall.

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Which other Packers will you be looking to keep a close eye on as week one of OTAs begins tomorrow?

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