Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Key Things To Watch In Camp: Number 5 - WR Depth

Training camp is starting next weekend and the players will start reporting for camp later this week, so I'm counting down in reverse order the five key things to watch this year in training camp. The good news is that the Packers start the season in pretty good shape having made some key changes during the offseason, but there's always some question marks that will need to be addressed.
The top three wide receivers are set (Nelson, Cobb, and Boykin) and there are six other receivers competing for three to four roster spots (probably two of them on the practice squad). The numbers four and five receivers shouldn't expect to play a major role, but injuries have knocked out the starters for significant time in each of the last two seasons (Nelson and Jennings in 2012, Cobb in 2013) so it's possible one of them will be asked play an expanded role in the offense for a few weeks. Having depth at the receiver position is so important in Mike McCarthy's offense that it elevates this competition to a key one.

Also, one of the backups could be the next kick and/or punt returner. The top two return men are DB Micah Hyde and WR Randall Cobb, but it's possible that both of them are excluded from return duties if they are both starters.

Davante Adams should have the edge on everyone else because of his recent selection in the 2nd round, but as Rob Demovsky mentioned in the above link, Adams had some trouble holding onto the ball in OTAs. Though he has been known as a sure handed receiver in the past. The odds of him not actually making the roster are practically zero, but he's not going to be the number four receiver if he's dropping passes during preseason games. We'll have to watch how he performs in those early games.

Myles White. After the big three, White is next in seniority, having played on 125 snaps and targeted for passes 12 times. It's not much of a resume, but having that experience can be a big advantage. He looked pretty good in training camp last year (with a couple of drops, unfortunately) but it didn't prevent his release.

Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. Having both been recent draft picks helps their case for a roster spot, but its even that they're both healthy and looked good in OTAs. I'm sure the team wouldn't mind if Janis had a strong camp, but if he's too impressive they might have trouble sneaking him onto the practice squad.

Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, and Chris Harper. They all have some experience with the Packers, but they've all been released at least once in their NFL careers. Harper might be struggling with a hamstring injury which is a huge set-back for him. Since they're in camp, they have a chance, but they're currently long-shots.

Which receiver or two emerges as the key backups this season will be something to watch this preseason.

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