The biggest news coming out of the Green Bay Packers’ camp this week may have been the restrictions being placed on it.
Only a few days into practice, the organization decided to put clamps on media reports regarding the Packers’ potential starting lineup, players rotating in and out of it, and the versatility of players and formations. An already difficult environment for fans and media to glean information on the team without open practice, Family Night, or preseason play became even harder.
But before the decision was made, there were a few glimpses of the team’s potential depth on the offensive line amid the hype surrounding Tyler Ervin. A look at the battle behind Corey Linsley, a surprise release, and a check-in on Mike McCarthy can be found in today’s rundown.
The backup center position has plenty of competition, which may help prepare for the future
Corey Linsley is penciled in as the Packers’ starter this season, but his contract uncertainty poses questions about the team’s future at the center position. Early in training camp, the battle behind Linsley appears to be in full force.
On Monday, rookie sixth-round pick Jake Hanson was given the second-team reins and appeared to hold his own. But already on Tuesday, a pair of returners handled those reps. Lucas Patrick, last year’s backup center, alternated with left guard Elgton Jenkins in padded practice as both players continued to show interior versatility. (Note that both of these practices took place before the Packers cracked down on the media reporting on which players were lining up with which units.) While Jenkins had a promising rookie year at guard, his continued usage at center would not be a shock with his bountiful college experience at the position.
However the Packers choose to roll on the second team, it appears they will have enough depth for this season at center and for potential life without Linsley as soon as next year.
Travis Bruffy’s release this early is a minor surprise
The casual Packers fan may not recognize Bruffy’s name, but his release posed some surprises. The Texas Tech product was given the highest guaranteed base salary of the Packers’ group of undrafted free agents, signifying some level of competition for his services with other teams. With the Packers having an 80-man roster at this point, it seemed fairly early for the team to give up on one of its more targeted signings.
Even though right guard Billy Turner has received reps at right tackle during training camp, Green Bay is also still on the lookout for offensive tackle depth to develop. Bruffy was one of a number of young tackle prospects jockeying for an extended look for the future and, though preseason would have been helpful to his cause, he seemed to have as much of a shot to compete as any other with great size for the position.
Former Head Coach Mike McCarthy felt he “shorted” the Packers’ offense at times
Speaking with NFL Network earlier this week, former Green Bay and new Dallas Head Coach Mike McCarthy talked about his decision to keep playcalling duties with Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore this upcoming season. Interestingly, McCarthy noted that he “didn’t want to short the offense” and felt like he did that at times with Green Bay when talking about his desire to build his entire “program” in Dallas.
The time away from coaching must have changed McCarthy’s perspective on playcalling. It was just in 2015 that he gave former Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements the reins to the offense in order to, again, focus on all aspects of the team. Before season’s end, McCarthy had re-taken the duties after a slow start. The following August, McCarthy vowed never to get away from calling the plays, literally saying, “I’ll never do that again.” Clearly, McCarthy has had second thoughts about that decision since.
McCarthy left his perceived shortcomings within the Green Bay offense up to interpretation. Could it have been his rather conservative style during his final season, limiting big plays? Was it standing in the way of Aaron Rodgers or not standing in the way enough? Was it simply the game-planning leading up to Sundays? While the specifics may remain unknown, watching the Cowboys’ offense this season and the freedom given to Moore and quarterback Dak Prescott might provide Packers fans with some clues.