Camp Wrap: Green Bay Packers
As you might recall, we moved from Bourbonnais, Ill., to Green Bay, Wis., on Day 4 of our training camp tour. Days 5-16 (by my count) were spent in Green Bay. (Good people, good times.)
Continuing with the Camp Wrap series:
What we learned about the Packers this summer:
1. Brett Favre won't be the quarterback this season.
1a. Ha! Just thought we'd hit you over the head with that one more time. Seriously, we did learn that if nothing else, Favre's successor has a good head on his shoulders. We're not yet sure of his acumen on the field (see below), but Rodgers certainly has the right mindset to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. His laid-back personality served him well during the summer media circus, and from everything we gathered, Rodgers remained confident throughout a period when thousands of people were suggesting he get demoted.
2. The Packers have a deeper group of skill position players than people around the country might realize. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones are as good of a receiving trio as there is in the NFL. Behind them, Ruvell Martin and Jordy Nelson are also competing for playing time. There are perhaps five running backs on the roster who have made a case for playing time: Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn, Vernand Morency and Noah Herron. And the Packers have at least three intriguing tight ends behind starter Donald Lee: Tory Humphrey, Jermichael Finley and Evan Moore.
3. Say what you want about Rodgers, but to us the Packers' biggest risk is entering the season with two rookies behind him. Neither Brian Brohm nor Matt Flynn have been awful this summer, but they are what they are: rookies. Brohm is known as a quick study, but he's not a savant. If either Brohm or Flynn has to play early in the season, the Packers will have a tough time.
What we still need to find out:
1. Can Rodgers play? It's a simple question, but one that's impossible to answer about someone who has never started an NFL game. After watching more than a week of practice, we can conclude Rodgers has a strong-enough arm and that he appears to know the Packers' offense well. But his accuracy left something to be desired at times, and it's difficult to know how he'll react to unexpected blitzes once the regular season begins.
2. Entering the Packers' second preseason game (Saturday night at San Francisco), it's far from clear who will emerge victorious from the competition at both guard positions. Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press broke down the issue recently. To sum it up: Third-year player Jason Spitz figures to win one of the jobs, but which one depends on whether Daryn Colledge, Allen Barbre or Josh Sitton ends up as the other starter.
3. The Packers' plans to improve their pass rush were no secret during the offseason; their exact intentions, however, weren't totally clear during camp. Will they blitz more? Use different personnel in passing situations? Those questions are still in the experimental phase.