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Cheese Curds, 8/3: Slot receivers and slot corners carve out critical roles for Packers

Having the ability to play both inside and outside is a crucial skill for players in Green Bay, regardless of which side of the ball on which a player lines up.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL continues to become more and more of a passing-focused league as the years go along, finding creative and explosive players in all areas of the field has become a priority. Where once teams used their wide receivers on the perimeter of the field and mainly utilized tight ends and running backs to attack the middle, the slot receiver has become a staple of modern offenses and is effectively a starting position.

For the Green Bay Packers especially, the slot is critical on both sides of the ball. The Packers use a three-wide, one-back, one-tight end set as their primary personnel package on offense, and they are in the nickel with five defensive backs most of the time on defense. As such, defending and attacking the slot are crucial to the team's success. What we are finding early on in this year's training camp is that the team has a wealth of options on the inside, particularly on defense where three of the top four corners are taking slot reps with regularity.

Meanwhile, one of the potential slot receiver candidates has been impressing in the first week of camp. If he can maintain his good performances through the preseason, it will be virtually impossible to keep him off the roster come September.

Wrestling paved way for duo’s development |
Two of the Packers' projected starters on the defensive line - Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark - were decorated wrestlers in high school, and the leverage and hand-fighting techniques the two have are standing out in practice.

Packers CB Gunter benefiting from versatility |
Sam Shields has been about the only Packers corner who is not taking snaps in the slot this summer. LaDarius Gunter is one of the more surprising players to line up there, and even cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt is pleased and surprised at how well the second-year player has performed inside.

Amid catch confusion, referee Walt Coleman says officials have clarity - ESPN
Coleman is one of the NFL's veteran refs, and he says that despite the fans' and players' frustrations about the catch rule, the referees know exactly what they're doing.

Abbrederis Proving to be an Asset in Practice | Cheesehead TV
Crisp routes? Check. Sure hands? For the most part, check. Roster spot assured? Not a chance, with all five preseason games yet to go.

The NFL is in the era of the slot receiver -
Although the Packers tend to have a few receivers who are almost exclusively slot players, the trend across the league is to use premier perimeter receivers in the slot occasionally as well. The Packers even did this with some success in 2013, using Jordy Nelson inside when Randall Cobb was out with an injury.

Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals agree to 5-year extension -
Mathieu's big deal makes him the NFL's highest-paid safety - if you're willing to classify him at a single position, that is.