With the off-season activities now officially over with, we now turn our attention to the upcoming training camp and preseason. The big question is: What will the 2013 Green Bay Packers look like?
I’m taking a look at each position and listing who I think are the likely starters, as of today. Training camp always tends to change that list quite a bit so this is obviously as of today, as it stands, and without having really seen many of these guys play.
Starter: Aaron Rodgers
Backup: BJ Coleman
Bubble: Graham Harrell, Matt Brown
Quick hits: Rodgers is the league’s highest-paid player and let’s not forget he’s pretty good at what he does. No question there and so the biggest debate is whether Coleman can leapfrog Harrell and will the team carry three active quarterbacks? My thought is that if Coleman wins the backup spot, they will likely cut Harrell. Illinois State’s Matt Brown could be a good candidate to land on the practice squad, much like Coleman did last season.
Starter: DuJuan Harris
Backup: Alex Green, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin
Bubble: John Kuhn, James Starks, Angelo Pease, Jonathan Amosa
Quick hits: Harris came on and was effective late in the season for the Packers. He didn’t participate in much of the team’s offseason due to having a cyst removed near his lung. He is expected to be ready for training camp. Green will get every opportunity to remain a part of the team’s plans but will face very fierce competition from rookies Lacy and Franklin. Still, I see the team keeping all four. James Starks is likely all but out of Green Bay after being largely ineffective during his three-season stint with the team. And we may have seen the last of John Kuhn, which will make the team’s decisions at this position easier.
Starters: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb
Backups: Jarrett Boykin, Charles Johnson
Bubble: Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, Terrell Sinkfield, Myles White, Tyrone Walker, Sederrick Cunningham
Quick hits: With at least one spot up for grabs and eight players competing for it, this will be one of the more closely-watched battles in camp. Only Ross has any NFL experience and he was also used in the kick return game. His biggest competition (pun intended) is likely to come from Johnson. Johnson missed nearly all of the offseason so his health is a question. If healthy, many are expecting him to stay in the conversation as one of the team’s wideouts. Dorsey will likely end up on the practice squad if he can remain healthy. As for the others, only time will tell but they don’t appear to be in the team’s immediate plans.
Starter: Jermichael Finley
Backup: Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor
Bubble: DJ Williams, Matthew Mulligan, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner
Quick hits: Finley is in the last year of his contract in Green Bay and many expect that this is his last season in Green & Gold. Still, it’s a contract year and he will want to make a good showing to garner more interest for his services beyond this season. His talent is too much to pass up and he played well at the end of last season so he’s the clear-cut starter. Quarless is finally healthy and the team likes him a lot. Taylor has been a big contributor on special teams and will be back. Williams has not been able to get on the field and has been ineffective when he has. Mulligan figures to provide some depth and contribute on special teams. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy likes to keep his tight ends so both Williams and Mulligan may be locks. Still, they will have to fight to crack the roster and show the team that they have another good stable of talent at the position. Bostick spent last season on the team’s practice squad and will try to make an impression in camp. He will have his work cut out for him and will be challenged by Stoneburner. I expect one on the practice squad with the other likely to be let go.
Starters: Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, TJ Lang, Don Barclay
Backups: Marshall Newhouse, David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor
Bubble: JC Tretter, Derek Sherrod, Andrew Datko, Greg Van Roten, Kevin Hughes, Patrick Lewis, Garth Gerhart
Quick hits: The starters, minus Barclay, are pretty clear. I expect Barclay to win the starting right tackle spot. Newhouse is a solid backup and Bakhtiari will need to show readiness during the preseason. Both Tretter and Sherrod are listed as bubble players as they are dealing with injuries. Sherrod’s readiness is still in question and he could begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Tretter suffered a broken ankle during a non-contact drill at the beginning of OTA’s and will likely miss at least the first half, if not all, of his rookie season. Taylor is my pick to make some noise and push hard to crack the roster. If not, practice squad and they may part ways with Datko.
Starters: BJ Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal
Backup: CJ Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd
Bubble: Johnny Jolly, Jerel Worthy, Jordan Miller, Gilbert Pena
Quick hits: Raji and Pickett will settle in at tackle and end and which one ends up where is still unsure. Neal is at the other end. Top rookie Jones and also Wilson will push Neal for the other starting end spot. The team will want to get Jones on the field and so they will use a rotation during most games. Jolly is a great story, but now he must go to work. He faces a major uphill battle to stick on this year’s team. Worthy may miss this season simply because his ACL injury came at the tail end of last season. Boyd is likely safe, having been a fifth round pick.
Starters: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry
Backup: Dezman Moses, Nate Palmer
Bubble: Andy Mulumba, Jarvis Reed, Donte Savage
Quick hits: Matthews and Perry are the unquestioned starters. Moses provides quality depth and Palmer is expected to be in the team’s plans this year after Packers General Manager Ted Thompson traded up for him in the sixth round of the draft. Mulumba was an undrafted free agent and was a high choice in the recent Canadian Football League’s draft. He could become last year’s equivalent to Dezman Moses and push hard for a roster spot.
Starters: AJ Hawk, Brad Jones
Backup: Terrell Manning, Jamari Lattimore, Robert Francois
Bubble: Desmond Bishop, Sam Barrington
Quick hits: Probably the biggest story out of mini camp and OTA’s is what the team will do with Bishop. He is reportedly going to have to restructure his contract or he will be released. That doesn’t sound like a guy who figures prominently in the team’s plans this season. Manning is finally healthy and needs to take a step forward. Lattimore and Francois are valuable on special teams and for depth. Barrington was the team’s last draft pick and will face tough odds to stick.
Starters: Casey Hayward (nickel), Tramon Williams, Sam Shields
Backup: Davon House, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush
Bubble: Loyce Means, James Nixon, Brandon Smith
Quick hits: The Packers play a ton of nickel so for all intents and purposes, Hayward is a starter. Williams is on watch after two very subpar seasons following a stellar 2010. Shields elevated his game last season and may be playing for a new deal this year. House will be breathing down the neck of any of those three who may struggle. Bush is the team’s top special teams ace but could get bumped if one of the bubble guys comes out of nowhere.
Starters: Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian
Backups: MD Jennings, Sean Richardson
Bubble: Chaz Powell, David Fulton
Quick hits: This group seems pretty set. I expect McMillian to be the starter opposite Burnett in the 3-4 scheme. Richardson needs to stay healthy or he could be gone sooner than later. That would leave the team thin with Jennings being the only quality depth so far.
Starters: Mason Crosby (PK), Brett Goode (LS), Tim Masthay (P)
Bubble: Giorgio Tavecchio (PK)
Quick hits: Crosby is the focal point here and is the only incumbent facing apparent competition. We haven’t heard much about Tavecchio so far, so it sounds like it’s the status quo heading into the season.
As I mentioned earlier, we will see changes to these lists as training camp starts, injuries happen and preseason games are played. For now, chime in with your thoughts and comments, as always.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: