Don’t look now, but training camp is practically over. Other than a couple of practices and Saturday’s preseason game, the preseason is essentially behind us. That means the Packers’ training camp position battles are winding down.
There have been several spirited competitions running throughout training camp with few clear decisions to this point. We asked our writers which battles they’d be watching the most closely this weekend. Here’s what they had to say.
Rcon14: Safety, at every level of the depth chart
Do the Packers have… a single… even one (1) NFL safety on the roster? At this point in time, it appears that Darnell Savage will get another crack at the starting job, despite his really poor play last year. Contracts work wonders for playing time. His partner on the back-end is wide open. Jonathan Owens started for the Texans last year and has gotten some starting snaps in camp, including a start against Cincinnati, but he probably had the worst game of the group, and also would cost nothing to cut. Tarvarious Moore probably had the highest ceiling of any player in this group, having started for the 2021 49ers, but injury has quite possibly made that level of performance unreachable for him. Moving on from him would cost a mere $50k on the Packers stretched cap. Rudy Ford was a special teams lifer and got the start against New England, but that was after he spent most of camp looking like he was S4. Dallin Leavitt is a near-lock to make the roster as one of Rich Bissacia’s favorite children, and Anthony Johnson Jr probably makes it given Gute’s affinity for his draft picks, but will Green Bay look outside the organization for their starting safety after cuts? Do they have a clue who their S2 is right now? Because I sure don’t.
Justis Mosqueda: Safety
I’m pretty much gonna echo everything Rcon said above. At different points, it’s looked like Ford and Owens were in the driver’s seat for the starting safety job. I think that Johnson and Moore have played the best out of the group of candidates. I have no idea what the hell is going on at safety. I’m just hoping to get some clarity at the position.
Paul Noonan: Receiver
Unlike safety, here they have something of an embarrassment of riches, or at least an embarrassment of potential. Most importantly, with everyone so young and inexperienced, it’s difficult to make an informed judgment about anyone. Even Romeo Doubs, who has solid experience coming into this season, and who has had a very good preseason, isn’t necessarily better than any of their draft picks this season, or even Malik Heath, for that matter.
With Malik Heath proving to be a reliable catcher of Sean Clifford’s hospital balls, and Dontayvion Wicks and Grant DuBose flashing, to say nothing of incumbent Samori Toure, they have a real crunch, and there’s no guarantee that anyone of these players gets through to the practice squad. Compounding everything, the Packers will likely be a 12 and 21 heavy team in terms of personnel, and it’s difficult to see them carrying seven wide receivers for long. The third preseason game is probably as important for this group as for any.
We don’t even know if the Packers go into the regular season with more than two guys at RB, but there will be at least one stashed away on the practice squad. This battle seems to have come down to two players: Patrick Taylor and Emanuel Wilson. Wilson made his mark in game one vs Cincy, but Taylor seemed like their guy in game two vs New England. I think Taylor has the edge due to previous experience with the team, but it could come down to how both guys perform against Seattle.
Jon Meerdink: Interior offensive line
Position battles elsewhere have distracted from the fact that the Packers have essentially no depth behind either guard spot or center. Yes, Zach Tom is nominally their top backup at all three spots, but that’s not much of a solution if the Packers don’t really want to put Yosh Nijman at right tackle. Or, and I’m just going to throw out a wild possibility here, what if there are two injuries at once? I know that hardly ever happens in football, so it seems a little conspiracy theory-ish to even bring it up, but even if Tom can solve one injury issue by himself, the Packers still lack depth inside.
Honestly, though, this is less a battle than it is the Packers trying to find someone who won’t embarrass themselves out on the field. Given that the starting center seems to have trouble getting the ball to the quarterback consistently, that might prove a harder task than we anticipated. At least Elgton Jenkins is still here!
Tex Western: Nobody
Jon insisted that I flex a bit, so flex I shall. I will not be watching any positions closely in the Packers’ third and final preseason game because I will not be watching the game at all. Blasphemy? Perhaps. But I have a good reason: I’ll be traveling overseas to get married next week. Instead of watching the third and fourth-stringers decide who gets invited back onto the practice squad after final cuts, when the game kicks off I’ll be watching a host of military and civilian bands perform in front of Edinburgh Castle ahead of our wedding a few days later.