Tuesday, July 29, 2014
What we've learned: Packers' offense
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After three days of training camp practices, the Green Bay Packers are taking Tuesday off.
It's a small sample size, but before they get back on the field Wednesday morning at 8:20 local time, here's a look at what we've learned about them so far, starting with the offensive side of the ball:
Boykin's for real: Despite using three of their nine draft picks on receivers to provide depth behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, there's no reason to think any of them will supplant Jarrett Boykin as the No. 3. That's no knock on second-round pick Davante Adams or fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis -- both have made their share of early plays (seventh-round pick Jeff Janis has not practiced yet because of injury). But Boykin looks every bit like the same receiver -- or better -- than the one who caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns in the final 12 games last season. "I know Aaron [Rodgers] feels very good about him," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Lacy in the passing game: McCarthy said this offseason that he wants his running backs to be able to stay on the field for all three downs, and that could mean more opportunities for starter Eddie Lacy in the passing game. During several of the team blitz periods, we've seen Lacy leak out of the backfield and catch passes in the flat. At one recent practice, Lacy was working on catching passes off to the side while there was a special teams period taking place on the main field.
Who needs Finley?: Everything Richard Rodgers has done since the Packers drafted him in the third round this offseason suggests he will be the team's most productive tight end in the passing game. He stood out in the OTA and minicamp and has done the same so far in training camp. But is it enough to make the Packers forget about Jermichael Finley, who remains a free-agent awaiting medical clearance to return from last year's neck surgery? Rodgers gives the Packers the same type of athletic presence as a receiving tight end, but he remains unproven as a blocker.
Center concerns: McCarthy has invested an entire offseason in JC Tretter as his new starting center, so two shaky performances in the first one-on-one pass blocking drill of the season are not likely to bring any changes. But the Packers will need a much better showing than what Tretter gave them on Sunday, when he got smoked by nose tackle B.J. Raji twice in the drill. One time, Raji beat him with his quickness, the next time with his power. Raji is exactly the kind of player Tretter will have to be able to handle this season if he's the starting center.
Backup QB competition: Ultimately, it will come down to how they play in the preseason games, but so far it's a dead heat between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job behind Rodgers. Flynn took the No. 2 reps on Saturday and Monday, and Tolzien got them on Sunday. Both have had their moments -- good and bad -- but neither has done anything to separate from the other.