One of the easiest ways to tell how good of a training camp a player is having is by comparing his playing time to his peers. Even then, though, it’s an imperfect science. Game-long snap counts, which are released by the league, can be found but don’t account for who comes on the field first or with which unit they were on the field for.
The stats might say that the Green Bay Packers’ first-round rookie linebacker Quay Walker saw the fourth-most snaps at his position, as he did last week, but they don’t tell you that he started the game and was rested early on against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s easy to remember that quarterback Jordan Love has taken every first-half snap for the Packers or that offensive lineman Zach Tom came off the bench for a two-minute drill against the 49ers and the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints, but how is anyone supposed to track every player on every Packers snap while they’re watching the game live?
To answer questions about how the Packers’ depth chart is shaking out, Acme Packing Company has gone through the painstaking process of charting Green Bay’s player participation over their first halves in the preseason, a line in the sand for major personnel changes, along with the team’s Family Night practice — maybe the only chance we’ll get to see the majority of the Packers’ starters this summer.
Since we already touched on the quarterback and offensive line positions, we’ll stick to offensive skill players and defenders in our breakdowns. Positions were charted as such: running back, receiver (outside, slot/condensed), tight end (inline, wing, fullback), defensive line (defensive end, nose tackle, defensive tackle), outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback (outside, slot) and safety.
Numbers in the player participation tables represent key snaps played by individual players (by week and summer-long splits.) Key snaps are defined as the first half of a preseason game or “with the ones” on Family Night. Players who are grayed out are healthy scratches in preseason games, which includes the vast majority of the Packers’ starters. Players* who are highlighted in pink have since been released by the team.
*It’s one player. It’s Dominique Dafney. Long live Dafney.
After we go position-by-position, we’ll tell you which players haven’t been able to crack the first few layers of the depth chart, which puts them at risk for Tuesday’s cutdown deadline for 80-man rosters.
Starters being held out: Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon
Last week, Tyler Goodson out-snapped Patrick Taylor two-to-one in key snaps against the San Francisco 49ers. With that being said, Taylor was used in specific roles on specific downs and distances: as a pass-blocking back and as a short-yardage back. It’s possible that Taylor was only given so few snaps in Week 1 because he recently returned to practice from a groin injury.
Either way, snaps were split right down the middle in Week 2 as Taylor and Goodson traded drives. Taylor even earned the start. Head coach Matt LaFleur has mentioned several times in press conferences over the last week that the team may only keep three running backs, which means that a roster spot could be on the line next week against Kansas City.
Though tight end Josiah Deguara didn’t have a snap in the backfield this week, his snaps as a running back have come in split back gun looks where he was essentially used as a fullback in the shotgun. Receiver Amari Rodgers got a few looks in the backfield this week out of split back gun formations but was used as a live motion player in every single rep, which is why he didn’t qualify as a “running back” in our charting. He instead registered as a “live motion” player.
Starters being held out: Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb
The top four receivers playing preseason snaps for the Packers are Romeo Doubs (71 key snaps), Juwann Winfree (61), Amari Rodgers (60) and Samori Toure (30.) Rookie second-round pick Christian Watson did not play against the Saints, but did warm up pregame and participated in practice last week following his activation from the physically unable to perform list. Whenever he does return to full-contact football, he will certainly disrupt the Winfree-Rodgers logjam, which should give us a hint on who has the inside track to the sixth receiver spot on the depth chart.
Watson, like Doubs and Winfree, has the potential to play on the edge of the formation as well as the slot, which is not how Rodgers has been used. Rodgers has only played seven snaps as a true outside receiver (mostly in a two-minute drill), while Doubs and Winfree have combined for 42 snaps out there this summer. Offensively, Rodgers’ role looks something like what Randall Cobb already does for the team. Toure has also overwhelmingly played in the slot in key snaps, aside from the two-minute drill against the 49ers.
Tight ends Josiah Deguara (15 snaps) and Tyler Davis (14 snaps) have been split out at receiver at about the same rate. If you’re wondering why running backs (or tight ends) are getting some snaps as outside receivers, it’s usually on plays where the Packers are in empty, which allows their receivers to match up on weaker coverage defenders in the middle of the field.
Starters being held out: Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan
#Packers TE Tyler Davis has the real possibility being TE1 this year. He's gotten praise from Gutekunst, Bisaccia, and Lafleur multiple times this off season! Excited to see what he can bring to the table this year! pic.twitter.com/CxBmwUX8x1— Big B (@bigpackers4x) June 8, 2022
When the coaching staff and front office were asked this offseason why they didn’t add a tight end via the draft, we were told over and over that they liked Tyler Davis more than we assumed. Unfortunately, Davis has had two turnovers in two preseason games and has also had some bad showings when he’s not giving the other team the ball.
With Davis’ performances in context, it’s interesting that the team got Alize Mack, who signed a futures deal with the team in February, involved as an inline tight end this week. Mack played five inline tight end snaps in the first half against New Orleans, which tied with Davis for the most of any Packer.
Josiah Deguara, an off-ball tight end, played nine snaps as a fullback last week against the 49ers, which would have been the most fullback snaps in any half of football by a 2021 Packer. Those snaps simply never came against the Saints, though, as the recently-signed Nate Becker got the team’s only two snaps at fullback.
Going into this game, it felt like the tight end position was somewhat settled, but suddenly Deguara, Davis, Becker and Mack seem to be battling it out for two to three spots on the 53-man roster. Davis needs a big bounceback game against the Kansas City Chiefs next Friday or he might not make the team.
If you’re wondering why running backs and receivers are listed as tight ends for some snaps, think of the Allen Lazard plays where he’s lining up right behind a tight end and is asked to dig out an edge defender or linebacker. That’s what the team has been doing with Juwann Winfree and even once with Romeo Doubs. Tyler Goodson’s “wing tight end” snap came on an empty formation play where he helped chip a pass-rusher.
Starters being held out: Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry
Rookie first-round pick Devonte Wyatt missed the preseason opener with a concussion but led the defensive line in key snaps against the Saints with 27. He was the team’s top option as a nickel defensive tackle and played just two key snaps fewer than Jack Heflin at 3-4 defensive end in Week 2.
Jordan Davis is so good pic.twitter.com/cxW0uDYhE5— Justis (special teams charter) Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 14, 2022
TJ Slaton has seemingly taken the next step, proving that he can handle an NFL workload in each of the Packers’ two preseason games. Because of that, rookie seventh-round pick Jonathan Ford has only played five snaps as a nose tackle and six snaps as a 3-4 defensive end in Green Bay’s early looks.
The question of if the Packers will roster six defensive linemen will continue right until cutdowns, but both Heflin and Chris Slayton are giving the team something to think about. Heflin has mostly been used as a true 3-4 defense end while Slayton started as a 3-4 defensive end last week but was prioritized as a nickel defensive tackle against New Orleans. Both have made splash plays this preseason.
Starters being held out: Rashan Gary and Preston Smith
Who the hell knows with this group? Seriously, who knows?
LaFleur keeps mentioning keeping five outside linebackers, but it’s hard to figure out where the breaking point is on this depth chart. It’s likely that Kingsley Enagbare is going to be rostered because of his draft position, and he has led outside linebackers with 33 key snaps, but he hasn’t started as the team’s third/fourth edge rusher as of yet.
The options behind Enagbare are Kobe Jones, Jonathan Garvin, La’Darius Hamilton and Tipa Galeai. Galeai is the only real special teams contributor out of the bunch, at least as it stands today, and none of them have really flashed in these preseason games. It wouldn’t be out of the question to think that the team could end up keeping Enagbare and Galeai (due to special teams) and looks to the waiver wire during cutdowns to add their fifth outside linebacker. Remember, Hamilton was brought in off of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad last season.
Starters being held out: De’Vondre Campbell
Rookie first-round pick Quay Walker is starting with “the ones” in practice but is also playing in the preseason, making him the only non-offensive lineman on the team to do so. Walker is usually rotated out of the lineup fairly quickly, as the rotation has started with Walker-Isaiah McDuffie, then gone McDuffie-Krys Barnes and finished with Barnes-Ray Wilborn at inside linebacker.
Wilborn is on the roster bubble, but Walker, McDuffie, Barnes and De’Vondre Campbell — who has been held out of preseason action — should be considered roster locks. The team could keep five inside linebackers, depending on how many tight ends and outside linebackers end up starting on Rich Bisaccia’s unit.
Starters being held out: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas
The Packers are probably going to keep three cornerbacks with the way that Rico Gafford, Shemar Jean-Charles and Keisean Nixon have performed on both defense and special teams this preseason. Last week, Nixon was featured as the team’s full-time nickel cornerback, but he split duty with Jean-Charles at the position this week.
Kiondre Thomas, who was brought in on a futures contract by Green Bay after spending his rookie season on the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad, is now pushing for playing time as an outside cornerback, though. Thomas played as many key snaps (13) as Nixon did against the Saints after only seeing the field once in the first 30 minutes of play against the 49ers last Friday.
Starters being held out: Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage
No position has been hit harder by injuries in Green Bay than the safety position. Starter Darnell Savage went down with a hamstring injury during the Packers’ Family Night practice and has yet to return to the field with the team. Since then, replacement starters Dallin Leavitt and Vernon Scott and backups Innis Gaines and Tariq Carpenter have gone down with injuries as well.
Because of all of the injuries, Micah Abernathy, who was signed a little over a week ago, saw eight snaps in the first half against the Saints. Without knowing how some of these injuries will play out, or if Gaines will rank higher on the depth chart than Abernathy when they are both healthy, it’s pretty difficult to project this position out.
Prior to the injury cluster, Shawn Davis had spent most of the summer as the Packers’ third safety. When Savage went down, though, Scott was called up to “start” next to Adrian Amos in practice. In Week 1, Leavitt and Scott got the nod as starters over Davis, who did rotate in with the group before Leavitt left the game with a shoulder injury that ended his night. Davis and Scott started against New Orleans on Friday.
We’ve gone through a lot of names here, so it’s just as important to note who we didn’t talk about. Tuesday will mark the second wave of cuts league-wide when rosters are shaved from 85 players to 80 players leading up to the final preseason game. The Packers’ cuts that got them down to an 85-man roster from 90 had a theme: The players released generally didn’t get snaps in the first half of the preseason opener and they were mostly injured.
With that in mind, here is the list of players (non-PUP) who haven’t recorded a single “key snap” in either of the Packers’ preseason games or Family Night practice:
- RB Dexter Williams
- WR Travis Fulgham
- WR Ishmael Hyman
- TE Sal Cannella
- OL Rasheed Walker (injured)
- OL Ty Clary
- OL Michal Menet
- OLB Chauncey Manac
- ILB Ty Summers
- CB Kabion Ento
- S Tariq Carpenter (injured)
- S Innis Gaines (injured)
- S De’Vante Cross
All participation/alignment charted by Acme Packing Company. Some plays ruled unchartable due to broadcast angles.