If you were hoping to have a clearer picture by now about the Green Bay Packers’ roster battle at wide receiver, you’re going to have to wait.
On Thursday, the Packers’ wideouts showed more of the same from recent performances in games, as a few young, ascending players impressed in the team’s second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Don’t look now, but Darrius Shepherd and Allen Lazard look like players who will be difficult to keep off the 53 at the end of camp, based on their in-game performances so far.
The two young receivers led the position group in snaps on Thursday night, and they combined to lead the Packers on their lone touchdown drive of the game. Lazard had a couple of big plays on that series, showing off some of his after-the-catch ability and catch radius, while Shepherd finished the job with a score.
On the other side of the football, an interesting battle is shaping up at inside linebacker, but perhaps not the one that fans initially anticipated. It seems clear that the Packers view the Mike and Will linebacker positions as being very different, meaning that Ty Summers and Curtis Bolton do not appear to be going head-to-head for the same spot. Both players got lengthy runs on Thursday, however, with Bolton looking like the more impressive player this week.
Here’s a look at this week’s playing time breakdown.
OFFENSE (60 plays)
Tim Boyle 33, DeShone Kizer 15, Manny Wilkins 12
The Packers got a less-than-stellar performance from their quarterbacks on Thursday night, with Boyle taking more reps than expected. It seemed that each QB was slated to get about a quarter of playing time, but when Aaron Rodgers was shut down for the day with back tightness about an hour prior to kickoff, that moved Kizer’s reps to quarter one while Boyle got an extra quarter of work.
Boyle finished 12-of-21 for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Kizer went 5-of-10 for 70 yards. Wilkins completed one of two passes for 14 yards and was sacked once in two series.
Dexter Williams 20, Tra Carson 18, Darrin Hall 13, Tommy Bohanon 12, Keith Ford 9
The Packers’ one big run came from Hall, who broke off a 28-yarder but had just three yards on his other six carries. Williams had a disappointing day, fumbling an exchange with Boyle and dropping a pass, the latter continuing a trend from practice this week. Bohanon got the call at fullback with both Danny Vitale and Malcolm Johnson out with injuries.
Darrius Shepherd 28, Allen Lazard 22, Jake Kumerow 20, Equanimeous St. Brown 20, J’Mon Moore 18, Geronimo Allison 13, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 13, Teo Redding 11, Malik Taylor 9, Davante Adams 7
The Packers have a lot of players jockeying for roster positions at wide receiver, and all of those who appear to be in contention saw around 20 snaps or so. The one exception was Shepherd, who got a little extra playing time from the slot. He scored the Packers’ lone touchdown of the game, finding an open area in the back of the end zone on an extended play. He finished the game with three receptions on six targets for 11 yards and the score.
However, it was Lazard and Kumerow who made the biggest mark on the stat sheet. Each of those two players had three catches, with Lazard’s going for 63 yards and Kumerow’s for 52.
Interestingly, two of last year’s rookies were held without a catch despite combining for 38 snaps. St. Brown had just one target, an incomplete deep ball from Kizer, while Moore was not targeted at all in the game.
The starting receivers got a nice run early, however, and Allison was the one to come up with a big play. He had a 22-yard reception on a third-and-10, finishing with two catches for 29.
Robert Tonyan 25, Evan Baylis 18, Jimmy Graham 13, Marcedes Lewis 6, Pharoah McKever 5
The Packers still seem to want to see Tonyan’s work as an all-around tight end, giving him the biggest workload at the position. He caught three passes for 17 yards on the day, while Graham added the only other reception by a player at the position for five yards.
Cole Madison 31, Lucas Patrick 30, Alex Light 30, Elgton Jenkins 30, Justin McCray 29, Gerhard de Beer 23, Adam Pankey 22, Yosh Nijman 15, Anthony Coyle 15, Lane Taylor 15, Billy Turner 15, Corey Linsley 15, Bryan Bulaga 15, David Bakhtiari 15
Green Bay rolled its starting offensive line out on the field for two series, but interestingly swapped in Jenkins for Taylor at left guard on the second drive. Taylor then came back in for some time with the twos before exiting the game. This is probably the clearest sign yet that the two players are in a serious competition for the starting job at that spot.
Other than that, Light still appears to be the team’s top choice as the second-string left tackle, while McCray and Patrick get playing time at multiple positions.
DEFENSE (66 plays)
Montravius Adams 41, Kingsley keke 27, Tyler Lancaster 23, Dean Lowry 20, Kenny Clark 20, James Looney 16, Deon Simon 13, Olive Sagapolu 5
It looks like Kenny Clark is going to continue his run as a high-volume tackler from the defensive line, as he racked up an impressive four total tackles on the stat sheet in just 20 snaps. None of these players laid a hand on a Raven quarterback, however, though Keke and Sagapolu each recorded a tackle for a loss.
Rashan Gary 34, Kyler Fackrell 31, Preston Smith 22, Za’Darius Smith 22, Reggie Gilbert 14, Randy Ramsey 14, Markus Jones 1
For the second straight game, Gary was held off the stat sheet despite a fairly heavy workload. Meanwhile, Fackrell recorded only a single hit on the quarterback and no tackles in a similar rep count. It was nice to see the team’s new additions on the edge play, however; Preston Smith picked up three tackles and Za’Darius Smith did not appear on the stat sheet either.
The team’s lone sack of the game came from Gilbert, who added a second hit on the quarterback. Gilbert had a nice dip around the outside shoulder of a reserve right tackle to make the play on his sack.
Ty Summers 41, Curtis Bolton 36, James Crawford 24, Blake Martinez 22, Brady Sheldon 3
With Oren Burks out indefinitely, the Packers leaned on Bolton to start at the Will linebacker position next to Martinez. Bolton looked the part, hauling in a deflected pass for an interception and recording four total tackles (including a TFL). If the season started tomorrow, he would clearly be the starter next to Martinez.
After a productive day last week in his debut, Summers came back down to earth a bit on Thursday, missing several tackles while making five stops. If Bolton stays on his current trajectory, Summers and Crawford, the special teams ace, may be in direct competition for a roster spot. Crawford had a single tackle and a pass breakup.
Will Redmond 30, Natrell Jamerson 24, Tray Matthews 24, Adrian Amos 22, Darnell Savage 22, Raven Greene 17, Mike Tyson 15
While Savage’s reps were limited a week ago in his debut, he played the full run with the starters on Thursday and picked up a tackle. He also was notable for providing perfect coverage on tight end Hayden Hurst on a deep ball up the sideline. Amos added three tackles as well.
Redmond continued to play in the slot a fair amount, picking up four tackles plus a fifth on special teams and a pass breakup. He’s probably the top option behind the established players as a potential fifth safety or hybrid defensive back.
Chandon Sullivan 39, Nydair Rouse 28, Tony Brown 24, Jaire Alexander 22, Tramon Williams 22, Ka’Dar Hollman 16
Tony Brown deserves some callouts here, as it was his pass deflection on a ball that Trace McSorley threw behind Miles Boykin that led to Bolton’s interception. After a nice debut last week, Hollman suffered an undisclosed injury and did not seem to return, which is probably why his snap count dropped and Sullivan’s increased. Hopefully he will be able to return soon to stake a claim for a fifth or sixth spot on the depth chart and a roster spot on the 53.