With training camp over a week old now, the Green Bay Packers have established front-runners at most positions. That preseason depth chart can, of course, always change. Still, with a little over a month from the start of training camp to week one of the regular season, time is short and reps are precious. This especially holds true to the young and unproven.
In this year’s draft, the Packers took two wide receivers, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, in the seventh round. Johnson stands 6’2″ and around 215 lbs while Dorsey comes in at 6’1″ and around 207 lbs. While both were late-round choices, Johnson and Dorsey were garnering some attention heading into the offseason. Johnson was especially intriguing because of his size and speed. The word “potential” is grossly over-used in the football world, but still, the “p” word was thrown around by many when referring to Johnson.
Early during the team’s organized team activities in spring, both Johnson and Dorsey suffered injuries that limited their participation. The team was hopeful that they would heal and be ready for training camp. So far, neither has participated in a single practice and time is starting to tick away.
When Greg Jennings departed after last season, that left the core of Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb at wide receiver. That conceivably leaves open at least two roster spots at wide receiver, a very critical position in the Packers’ offensive machine. Vying for those two spots are nine players. Among those are incumbent Jarett Boykin, Jeremy Ross, Johnson, Dorsey, Myles White, Tyrone Walker, Alex Gillett, Sederrik Cunningham, and Omarius Hines.
Last season, the Packers seemed to be planning on carrying five receivers into the 2012 season. They had young hopefuls in that of Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel and there was quite a bit of scuttle that the team may have to carry a sixth receiver if one or both of them had a strong enough showing in training camp. Down to the last preseason game, both Gurley and Borel were on the bubble along with the little-known Boykin. Boykin came on strong in that contest and earned himself the sixth receiver slot, sending Gurley and Borel packing.
The 2013 Packers almost certainly will not keep six receivers. Donald Driver was kept on last year’s team and for all intents and purposes, was the team’s sixth receiver. The Packers weren’t quite ready to part ways with the long-time veteran pass catcher and his retirement after the 2012 season vacated that spot which is not likely to be filled. With a crowded group at running back/fullback, it’s likely that the Packers would carry more backs than an extra wide out. Boykin has been impressive so far in camp, as was highlighted by our own Marques Eversoll. He almost certainly will be the team’s fourth receiver. So who wins the fifth spot?
As of right now, Ross is likely the fifth and final man. As much as the team would like to see Johnson and or Dorsey take hold of those last two spots, their health has prevented them from showcasing their readiness and ability to contribute on game days. Ross has not seen much time at receiver, but we have seen him flash his athletic ability on kick return. Ross saw time during last year’s regular season and has the edge with a year already in Green Bay’s system.
At this point, Johnson and Dorsey are behind the curve and with zero NFL experience nor practice time with the team, it is looking like one or both may be sent home by the end of the preseason. Another option would be to keep one or both on the team’s practice squad and hope they can gain some understanding of the offense. The other hope is that another team doesn’t come along and scoop them up before the Packers get a look at what they have in both Johnson and Dorsey.
While seeing a seventh round pick not make the team’s final roster or ending up on the team’s practice squad doesn’t seem like a huge loss, the Packers would surely be disappointed if that were to be the scenario. General Manager Ted Thompson did his usual moving around to stack more picks, and likely to be able to bring in some young talent to compete for at least one open receiver spot.
If Johnson, Dorsey or both can return to health and get on the practice field soon, this position battle could heat up. The team will likely give each of them every opportunity to showcase what they can bring to the team’s already-talented receiving corps. Time will tell, but there’s not much of it left for these two young rookies.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: