Green Bay Packers Early August Scouting Report
Training camp is now in session. The Packers start camp as healthy it has been in years. Those starting camp on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list include LB Vince Biegel and CB Demetri Goodson. In addition, CB Herb Waters (shoulder), DE Montravius Adams (foot), and CB Kevin King (shoulder) are not practicing because of injury. King is a very recent addition to this list. Don’t look now, but 3 of the top 4 Packer draft picks are injured. All were picked to help repair the defense. TE Aaron Peck started camp injured but has since rejoined the team. Not one of the four are starters and three of them might not make the 53 man roster. Hopefully it stays that way for the season.
So far the starting Offense has been doing great. Quarterback have had mixed results so far. QB Aaron Rodgers is doing great – leading two minute drills and looking unstoppable. QB Brett Hundley has had a few more problems. He has the offense down pat but has been intercepted on a few occasions. QB Joe Callahan and QB Taysom Hill have not had many opportunities yet. At running back RB Ty Montgomery has the part down pat, and he is demonstrating it all in practice so far – and that includes blitz pickup. Brandon Jackson tutelage is paying off. What comes after him is not as clear from camp reports I have seen. RB Jamaal Williams is gaining some separation in the early going. The others have had their moments but it is unclear where they stand. They are; RB Aaron Jones, RB Devante Mays, RB William Stanback, and RB Kalif Phillips. At wide receiver it is now very clear that while the Packers will move WR Jordy Nelson around some, he will see a lot of snaps from the slot where he ruled last year, WR Davante Adams will play out wide. WR Randall Cobb will also be moved around – in fact don’t be surprised to see him in the backfield at times with Montgomery. It is now clear that WR Geronimo Allison and WR Trevor Davis are now more developed and can regularly get open. Allison is hot in training camp as of this writing. He gets open and catches everything. He may have already cemented the 4th wide receiver position. But Allison will start the year with a one game suspension. Davis had a rough day in the first practice with pads. He dropped a punt and a pass, and then was decked and had to be attended to by the medical staff. But otherwise he has been good. And he was sure good in the regular season against Atlanta last year. WR Jeff Janis has also done some good things in camp. WR Montay Crocket and WR Michael Clark are getting good mentions so far as well. So far it appears that WR Max McCaffrey is the go-to guy for the backup quarterbacks. WR DeAngelo Yancey and WR Malachi Dupre have also made some catches in camp and have acquitted themselves well. Tight end TE Martellus Bennett is proving to be all the good things said of him and more. Together in camp Bennett and Rodgers are looking like they have played together for ten years already. TE Lance Kendricks is still learning the offense – but he should be dangerous as well once he gets there. TE Richard Rodgers knows the offense and what he is capable of is known. I don’t have any reports about TE Beau Sandland. The offensive line is not a fantasy position. But it is very important if the fantasy players are to perform. If training camp is any measure so far the starters are OT David Bakhtari, OG Lane Taylor, OC Corey Linsley, OG Jahri Evans, and OT Bryan Bulaga. We will see how the camp battles settle the backup positions.
Defensively the Packers may be looking better if the early returns are any measure – injured draft picks not withstanding. In the first padded practice there would have been multiple sacks if the red shirts were not used. Also the defensive backs as a group made several sparkling plays. Everything the offense got against them was earned. On the defensive line, the continued improvement of DE Kenny Clark and DE Dean Lowry were on display in the first padded practice. DE Mike Daniels was his usual effective vocal self. Although I know they have taken snaps, I don’t know how DE LeRoy Guion, DE Ricky Jean Francois, or DE Brian Price are doing. Guion will start the season with a four game suspension. And he was in part responsible for the Packer run defense a year ago. I haven’t heard or read anything about DE Christian Ringo or DE Izaah Lunsford. At linebacker they are mixing and matching so it is anyone’s guess how it will all shake out. From what I can gather, LB Jake Ryan and LB Joe Thomas will have major roles. And at the present time LB Blake Martinez may not. LB Reggie Gilbert seems to be showing up and could make the practice squad again. And there is not much information on LB Cody Heiman yet. On the outside LB Clay Matthews and LB Nick Perry will start. But LB Jayrone Elliott has created some noise as well. LB Kyler Fackell is bigger but so far isn’t as much of a threat as an edge rusher. LB Jordan Tripp status isn’t known right now. The Packers use a rotation at the position. So depth will be important. There are comments that the coaches like LB Johnathan Calvin – but that is all I know. And any mention of LB Josh Letuligasenoa is not there yet. In the defensive backfield there is a lot of mixing and matching. It didn’t take long for CB Devon House and CB Kevin King to find themselves on the field opposite each other. To Houses credit, he has assuned a leadership role with the cornerbacks and was seen helping King with his hand usage technique. He has also helped other corners understand assignments and get situated in Green Bay as well. In the slot CB Demarious Randall and CB Quinten Rollins are taking turns, despite all the preseason hype; it is Rollins who is doing better in the early going. As of now, the other corners getting positive comments are CB Lenzy Pipkins, CB Donatello Brown, and CB Raysean Pringle. All three have good measurables and played corner well in college. CB Ladarius Gunter seems to be getting burned by any of the receivers so far this camp. His speed is slow for a corner and maybe the Packers upgrade here. Not much information on CB Josh Hawkins yet. S Morgan Burnett and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will start at the basic positions. There clearly will be hybrid safety-linebacker role for S Josh Jones. He makes plays at every practice. S Kentrell Brice and S Marwin Evans continue to make plays in camp. Brice did well enough for a rookie last year when called upon. Both should make the roster and contribute during the season. S Jermaine Whitehead and S Aaron Taylor will probably be cuts at some point. So there are lots of pieces in motion right now for the Packer defense. They have lined up in what might be considered their base defense (2-4-5) very little so far in camp. Maybe that will be part of their new plan going forward. But it will take healthy players to make it work.
As for fantasy worthy Packers, nothing much changes except for two adjustments. My top tier Packer fantasy players are, QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Davante Adams, and TE Martellus Bennett. Second tier is, WR Randall Cobb, RB Ty Montgomery, and K Mason Crosby. Too early to predict what kind of a defense will show up. The next training camp report will be after a preseason game or two. So some things may look clearer on the bottom end of the roster. Barring injury, however, the recommendations should stand.
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