The Green Bay Packers begin reporting for this year’s training camp today to take physicals and get settled in. Practices begin tomorrow and hence the team’s quest for a successful 2014 season.
Last week’s “questions” piece was a success so I thought I’d give it another try. As always, thank you to those of you who submitted your questions and I chose that were most recurring.
1. Which one player has to have the best training camp for either himself or the team?
Always a good question and one that sparks some good debate. Many could argue that quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs to get in sync with his receivers and is the key. Others may cite a wide receiver, as that position group has some undecided spots open. Some would cite most any rookie, since they haven’t taken a single snap during live action yet.
To me, the theme here is on defense and the linebacker position.
From an individual perspective, it’s linebacker Brad Jones. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said he wants more playmakers on the field and he wants to see more plays made on defense, specifically. Jones has drawn the ire of some fans and media for his mediocre play since signing a contract extension following the 2012 season. He is set to make $2.5 million this season and $3.25 million in 2015.
Jones battled some injuries last year and was replaced by Jamari Lattimore during that time. Jones regained his starting position when he returned, but there was some debate as to whether the Packers would benefit more from having the feisty Lattimore next to A.J. Hawk. Lattimore will certainly come into training camp ready to fight hard for a bigger role this season.
While I described Jones’ play as mediocre, some of the same could be said for Hawk and the inside linebacker position, as a whole. Hawk seemed to ratchet up his play a bit last season and, if nothing else, has been very healthy during his career in Green Bay. He’s not the flashy linebacker that many thought they were getting when he was chosen fifth overall in the 2006 draft, but Hawk has proved valuable in a more subtle way. Hawk will be a starter this year, without a doubt.