(Image Credit: Associated Press- Morry Gash)
Written By: Matt Di Domenico
The Green Bay Packers will be launching their 2021 training camp on July 28th with their first public practice that begins at 10:10 AM CST. Coming off of a loss in the NFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season has question marks surrounding this team of if they can finally get over the hump in 2021. This long offseason for the Packers was full of storylines that will be close to or even answered once camp officially kicks off on the 28th. Below are the top 5 stories to look out for later this July in Packers camp.
5. Josh Myers at the starting center spot
With the 62nd pick in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected a 6’5” center out of Ohio State named Josh Myers. After the Packers lost their former all-pro center to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, the Packers knew they had a huge hole to replace on the offensive line. What is interesting about the Myers selection is he is a much larger lineman than former Packers center Corey Linsley is at 6’3”. This is a much different type of center that the Packers have in Myers. Myers will have huge shoes to replace left by Linsley this past season. The best hope for Myers is to have starting QB Aaron Rodgers there to help him ease into the starting role. If Rodgers is not present at camp, then Myers will be snapping to second-year QB Jordan Love who is also still learning all the ins and outs of his position. A matchup to watch is Myers going against NT Kenny Clark who is one of the league's best interior defensive linemen. Myers will learn a lot about his play when facing Clark every day in camp. If Myers struggles, then expect the Packers to slide Elgton Jenkins or Lucas Patrick over to the starting center role.
4. Who will stand out in the WR group?
We all know that Davante Adams will be the standout superstar at WR1 for the Green Bay Packers entering training camp and the 2021 season. The real question is who will step up behind Adams? Players like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard were able to produce at good levels this past season. Lazard and Valdes-Scantling will look to increase their roles even more in this Packers offense but will have close competition clipping at their heels. The Packers still have Devin Funchess who opted out of the 2020 season and former 6th round pick Equanimeous St. Brown who is still looking to find his stride in this Packers offense. One player to keep an eye on is Amari Rodgers who was selected by the Packers in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Rodgers is a shifty 5’9” receiver that will be a huge asset in pre-snap motion. Pre-snap motion plays are used a lot in this Matt LaFleur offense and Rodgers will find his role quickly there. Of course, most of the starting WRs may have to get used to Jordon Love throwing the majority of their reps if Aaron Rodgers does not show. Then there are other WRs like Reggie Begelton, Malik Taylor, Juwann Winfree, Bailey Gaither, and DeAndre Thompkins who will have to make every opportunity count in order to make the 53-man roster.
3. More AJ Dillon Usage
The big AJ Dillon was the RB3 for the Green Bay Packers this past season. Dillon saw some time on the field throughout the 2020 season when starting RB Aaron Jones and former backup RB Jamaal Williams were banged up with injuries. Dillon was able to make some flashy plays when receiving the opportunity to run with the football. The best game that Dillon played in was against the Tennessee Titans where he had 21 carries for 124 rush yards and 2 TDs. Free agency caused Jamaal Williams to sign with the rival Detroit Lions which was good news for Dillon. Dillon will now move into the RB2 spot and see a huge increase of reps behind Jones. We all knew that Dillon was going to get his opportunity when the Packers selected him in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dillon is a 6’0” 247-pound RB that is going to run over defenders in space and come in clutch in short-yardage situations. There is no doubt that Jones is like lighting in a bottle and can make mostly any cut on the football field. Having a one-two punch with Jones and Dillon is going to be awesome to see working together in camp. The one area in Dillon’s game to keep an eye on is if he has improved in the receiving aspect. If Dillon has improved his receiving skills, then that will be very big for Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to utilize come September 12th.
2. Who will win the CB2 Role?
There was no doubt that this Green Bay Packers secondary had to get more talent in the CB room after getting exposed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. The CB1 role is taken care of with all-pro Jaire Alexander but behind Alexander are a lot of question marks. Former 1st round pick Kevin King has not lived up to his billing, but the Packers are giving him a second chance with a 1-year prove-it deal. King is a lengthy CB that does have problems getting in and out of breaks. Giving King that prove it deal did not stop the Packers from going out in the draft and bringing in competition. The draft was where the Packers selected Eric Stokes out of Georgia with the 29th overall selection in the 1st round. Stokes is the main candidate to compete with King for the CB2 spot on this Packers team. Stokes has good speed and athletic talent that is very similar to a CB like Jaire Alexander. However, the Packers also drafted a very underrated CB prospect out of Appalachian State named Shemar Jean-Charles in the 5th round. Jean-Charles was able to be one of the Mountaineers' best players in 2020 and flashed a lot on tape. There are other players like Josh Jackson, Chandon Sullivan, Ka’dar Hollman, and Stanford Samuels who will also be competing very hard to get on the team and prove they are worth the opportunity. Training camp will put these CBs on great display, and one is bound to stand out to win the CB2 job.
1. Will Aaron Rodgers Return?
Of course, the top storyline coming into training camp and the season is if the reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will show up and lead the Green Bay Packers offense in 2021. The reports that have been flying around this offseason are that Rodgers is unhappy with how he has been treated by the Packers franchise and it is rumored that Rodgers wants to be traded out of Green Bay. Most of Rodgers' frustrations have gone back to the Packers front office where in the past they would not retain some of Rodgers' favorite teammates and weapons. Rodgers seems to want to have more of a say in some of the operations of the Packers franchise. The Packers' president is Mark Murphy, and he has made it clear that the team has no interest in trading the 3-time NFL MVP. If Rodgers does not show up to the start of training camp on July 28th, then last year's 1st round selection in Jordan Love will get the majority of the first-team snaps. Love was a high projected QB with a lot of throwing talent coming out of Utah State in 2020. Love was projected to land somewhere in the mid to late 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Love was taken by Green Bay with the 26th overall pick and sat behind Rodgers all last season. Now Love will look to show off his play this preseason and in training camp. The other quarterbacks behind Love are Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert. If Rodgers does show up to camp on July 28th or sometime before the start of the 2021 season, then expect this offense to still be one of the league's best. What is clear is that Rodgers and head coach Matt Lafleur love to work together. Rodgers' teammates have always had his back and hope to have him back in the building by the start of the 2021 season.