When the Green Bay Packers open training camp in 2019, their roster should look significantly different than it does today. Several key players will come back off injured reserve, a new draft class will inject some more youth and talent into the organization, and the team is sure to make some moves in free agency.
However, there are a handful of players who are earning themselves bigger roles for next year as the team plays out the string on the 2018 season. Some of them, such as wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, have gradually earned more and more playing time over the year and are angling for major roles next year. Others, such as defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster, are simply demonstrating that they deserve a chance to compete for a spot on next year’s opening 53-man roster.
The snap totals for those two players show the value that the team places on them, however. With Kenny Clark out of the lineup on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, Lancaster played nearly 90 percent of the team’s snaps. Meanwhile, EQ has taken hold of the second outside receiver role from fellow rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling, out-snapping his teammate 2-to-1 on Sunday.
Here’s a look at how playing time broke down in the Packers’ 24-17 loss at Soldier Field.
OFFENSE (68 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 68
6.5 yards per attempt, multiple misses to open receivers on big-play opportunities, and the snapping of a 402-attempt streak without an interception say it all for Rodgers on Sunday. He also took five sacks in the game, several on third downs as he continued contributing to the Packers’ struggles.
Jamaal Williams 59, Aaron Jones 7, FB Dan Vitale 4
Jones had to leave the game early with a knee injury, and his availability for the final two games of the season is in doubt. He carried the football four times for just eight yards before leaving the game.
Williams had some nice moments in relief of Jones, however. He gained 55 yards on 12 carries, adding the Packers’ only touchdown of the game, while totaling 42 yards on four receptions as well.
Vitale’s only notable play was a whiff on a block that caused Williams to lose a few yards.
Davante Adams 64, Randall Cobb 47, Equanimeous St. Brown 42, Jake Kumerow 21, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 21
It’s now clear that St. Brown is running at the top of the young receiver group. He out-snapped MVS for the second straight week and saw three targets to MVS’ one.
Adams was a star as usual in this game, catching eight of 13 targets for 119 yards. His full-season pace now puts him on track for 1,502 yards, and he needs to average 93 per game over the last two contests to hit that mark. Cobb caught just three passes on seven targets for 30 yards.
Jimmy Graham 47, Marcedes Lewis 11, Lance Kendricks 9, Robert Tonyan 8
While the Packers started the game with two tight ends, they stuck largely to 11 personnel afterwards. Graham had three catches for 32 yards while Kendricks added four receptions for 27 yards on his limited workload. The Packers also rarely used Kendricks in the backfield, only doing so on a handful of occasions.
David Bakhtiari 68, Lane Taylor 68, Corey Linsley 68, Lucas Patrick 68, Jason Spriggs 68
Patrick was a surprise starter, taking over for Justin McCray at right guard. It’s tough to break down his game, with Spriggs struggling against Khalil Mack for much of the game. In total, the Bears’ edge rushers shredded the Packers’ line; Mack had 2.5 sacks and Leonard Floyd had two, accounting for all but a half-sack of the five the Bears recorded.
DEFENSE (60 plays)
Dean Lowry 53, Tyler Lancaster 51, Montravius Adams 16, Fadol Brown 12, James Looney 1
Of all people, it was Lancaster who led the Packers in tackles in this game with seven. He clearly has taken over the top reserve role, as Adams cannot seem to crack the lineup. Lancaster usually does a good job holding his ground at the point of attack and has active hands, and he absolutely should have a spot on the offseason roster and a chance to win a roster spot in training camp.
Lowry had a pair of tackles and a fumble recovery, while Brown had a couple of big back-to-back stops, first on a third-down run and then on the Bears’ fake punt attempt. Adams did put in a good effort in his limited snaps, with three tackles and a hit on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Kyler Fackrell 51, Clay Matthews 49, Reggie Gilbert 21
Matthews had the Packers’ only sack in this game, bringing down Trubisky late in the fourth quarter and forcing him to fumble the football. Unfortunately the Bears recovered the football, though they fumbled later on in the drive. Fackrell had one solo tackle and a pair of assists, while Gilbert had one solo stop and a pass deflection.
Blake Martinez 60, Antonio Morrison 8
Martinez had a minuscule (by his standards) four tackles in this game. The Packers used a combination of two safeties, Josh Jones and Eddie Pleasant, as Nitro linebackers, however, leading to minimal snaps for Morrison and nothing on defense for rookie Oren Burks.
Tramon Williams 60, Josh Jones 48, Eddie Pleasant 31, Kentrell Brice 18
Jones racked up six tackles in this game, including one for loss, and added a pass defense as well. As mentioned above, he played some linebacker, splitting time with Pleasant in that spot. The newcomer also had a tackle for loss, which was one of his two tackles on the day, but he struggled in coverage.
Williams added four tackles on the back end while Brice had two in limited playing time.
Jaire Alexander 60, Bashaud Breeland 53, Josh Jackson 40, Tony Brown 28
Breeland missed practice all week, but he played most of the game with solid success; he had one tackle, which went for a loss on a beautiful read from the slot against the run, and added a pass breakup. Alexander had three tackles while Jackson had five and Brown two.
The Bears did little damage down the field — their biggest pass play was a 30-yard gain by Allen Robinson. That was a quick pass that Alexander read well, jumping the route, but he was unable to get the football and his gamble allowed Robinson to pick up a huge batch of yardage after the catch.