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Packers: Training Camp Battles

Legendary senior writer jclombardi previews training camp position battles.

(1) Rookie Derek Sherrod vs. 2nd year veteran T.J. Lang at left guard. With the beginning of training camp, first-round draft pick Sherrod got the 1st opportunity to succeed departed free agent Colledge, but he struggled in team drills looking overwhelmed. The natural tackle is simply more of the traditional prototype tackle needing maturity and experience than a natural guard.  Further, while the tall 3rd year veteran Lang is the number two left guard, he is a better fit because he has the solid build, wide square frame, and strong lower-body strength to effectively deal with power rushers. Yet, Lang must improve to handle to quick counters, to get to the second level, and overall awareness especially against blitzes.

OL Sherrod. Credit: Rick Wood.

(2) Veteran RB Ryan Grant vs. 2nd year sensation RB James Starks. While Coach Mike McCarthy may go with committee approach, the healthy Grant has the starting job to lose. RB Starks is a strong backup power runner who had a strong postseason emergence. Neither Grant nor Starks is known for his receiving ability. Could Green be that guy? Or is that why Rodgers wanted Kuhn back? I’m guessing it’s the latter.  Rookie RB Green will get work with the return units too.

(3) DE Mike Neal vs. DE C.J. Wilson at right defensive end. Somebody must replace the departed impact pass rusher DE Jenkins. Neal looked to be the replacement player, but he is still recovering from a serious rotator cuff injury in training camp. Thus, fellow 2nd year player Wilson is getting the big 1st team work. Wilson is a solid run player, but he must pick up his game as pass rusher.

(4) OLB Frank Zombo vs. OLB Erik Walden at right outside linebacker. After OLB Brad Jones suffered a season ending injury last season, they both started for a combined 14 games. Both have impressive set of talents. Returning veteran starter OLB Brad Jones may go to backup work at ILB.

(5) Veteran physical safety Charlie Peprah vs. 2nd year safety Morgan Burnett. Like TE Finley, safety Burnett will start team drills tonight after the team eased him back, the Burnett vs. Peprah is a hotly contested position battles. Burnett will probably start the season as back up, but he does have the better coverage skills to eventually become the starter moving by Peprah on the depth chart

(6) TE roster: While super-talented healthy TE Finley will start team drills tonight, rookie TE D. J. Williams is impressing in training camp with his smooth routes and catches. “One thing I can say is he’s going to be a hell of a player,” said Packers safety Collins who has had to cover Williams in practice. “He’s very fluid, knows the game, and understands the game. I just can’t wait to see him in live action.” McCarthy spoke complimentary of rookie tight ends. Because of Finley’s return schedule and Andrew Quarless‘ hip flexor, rookies Williams and Taylor both got good work with the first team. Will Williams will challenge Quarless’ roster spot? 

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