The first week of training camp has come and gone, ending with the Friday night scrimmage in Lambeau Field. Jsonline.com had several good articles reporting all of the activity.
C Scott Wells already has secured a roster spot. Wells was drafted in the 7th round and seemed like a long shot, but I thought he would make the roster all long because the Packers are somewhat thin on the interior of the offensive line. T Kevin Barry was expected to challenge RT Mark Tauscher, but jsonline.com reported that Tauscher has already won the position battle and now Barry is getting some playing time at guard. OL Steve Morley was a free agent from the CFL, he played tackle in the CFL but he too was reportedly taking reps at a guard position. Wells, Morley, and Barry should be the primary offensive line backups this season.
Surprisingly, WR Antonio Chatman appears to be the number 4 wide receiver, jsonline.com reported. The roster is thin at wide receiver behind top 3 WR Donald Driver, WR Robert Ferguson, and WR Javon Walker. Chatman did not look great during the brief time he played in 2003, instead he received most of his touches on punt returns and he remains the punt returner for the 2004 season. Last season, WR Antonio Freeman only had 1 or 2 catches per game as the 4th WR, so its not a substantial position, unless Driver, Ferguson, or Walker are injured. Behind Chatman is WR Carl Ford, who spent all 2003 on the IL, and practice squad WR Scottie Vines. Ford had a strong training camp in 2003, and I expected he would make the roster in 2004, but Vines has played well while still rehabbing from a knee injury, and Vines might kick Ford off the roster, jsonline.com reported.
QB Brett Favre abused the 2nd (3rd) string cornerbacks during the Friday scrimmage, jsonline.com reported. He abused CB Jason Horton, who I had forgotten about until the Friday scrimmage (he was signed in January along with a number of other NFL Europe candidates and I hadn't consider him likely to make it into training camp), and CB Chris Watson, who is coming back from injuries that wiped out his 2003 season while he was playing for Detroit. The injuries to starting CB Michael Hawthorne and rookie CB Joey Thomas made the cornerback depth look even thinner than expected. CB Chris Johnson showed some promise in 2003 in limited action, but he too is out with an injury, although his injury is more serious and he was placed on the IL. Espn.com reported that CB Mike McKenzie still has no intention of playing for the Packers again, but we shall see. The cornerback position should remain questionable at first, but as the season rolls on and rookie cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Thomas are worked into the nickel and dime packages, it should continue to improve.
LB Na'il Diggs and LB Nick Barnett were given blitz opportunities during the scrimmage, jsonline.com reported, that they didn't have in 2003. Diggs was resigned last offseason with the intention of giving him more pass rush opportunities, but it never materialized. Barnett had some opportunities in 2003, but he was injured midseason and he didn't seem to blitz much after he came back from it. Only DE KGB and DT Cletidus Hunt are reliable pass rushers on the defensive line, so if the Packers want to improve its pass rush, it will have to look to the linebackers for help.
P B.J. Sander uncorked two poor punts during the scrimmage, jsonline.com reported, while free agent P Nathan Chapman had one good 53 yard punt. Chapman isn't on the roster, so when the Packers released P Travis Dorsch last month, I thought Chapman had been released previously. It is good that the Packers have an extra punter in camp in case Sander falls apart, and Sander isn't off to a good start.