5 players capable of winning depth roles for Packers defense during training camp

The Packers need depth to develop on defense during training camp. Here are five young players capable of winning roster spots as backups this summer.

The Green Bay Packers are right in the running for having the NFL’s most talented starting defense entering the 2022 season. The starting 11 will likely feature at least six first-round draft picks, and there’s a Pro Bowler or All-Pro at every level of the defense. It’s increasingly difficult to find an obvious weak link in the starting group, provided first-round pick Quay Walker is the real deal at linebacker.

However, depth at several spots on defense is a real area of concern, and the Packers need young players to step up and develop into capable backups during training camp later this summer.

Who can surprise and win important depth spots for Joe Barry’s defense during training camp? We picked five players below.

For this exercise, we’re not including rookies, and we’ll only pick one player per position group. Here are the five selections:

Green Bay Packers 90-man roster by uniform number

A full, updating 90-man roster for the Green Bay Packers as training camp approaches. Sorted by uniform number.

Matt LaFleur’s team kicks off training camp – the unofficial start of the 2022 season – on Wednesday, July 27. Here’s an updating player-by-player look at the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster entering training camp, listed by uniform number:

 

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers nominated for pair of ESPYS awards

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers received two ESPYs nominations: Best Male Athlete and Best NFL Player.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers received a pair of nominations for the 2022 ESPYS.

Rodgers, who won his second straight NFL MVP award in 2021, was nominated for “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports” and “Best NFL Player.” Rodgers will go up against Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers for “Best Athlete” and Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams, T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts for “Best NFL Player.”

Fans can vote for “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports” here.

Fans can vote for “Best NFL Player” here.

Rodgers threw 37 touchdown passes and only four interceptions for the 13-4 Packers during the 2021 season. Rodgers received 39 of a possible 50 votes for NFL MVP, his fourth overall and second in as many seasons.

Rodgers has previously won an ESPYS for “Best NFL Player” four times, a record. He won in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017. Rodgers has never been named “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports.”

The winners will be announced during the event on July 20. The 2022 ESPYs will be televised on ABC starting at 7:00 p.m. CT from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.

Packers DL Kenny Clark finally surrounded by talent

On paper, the Packers defense is loaded with talent around elite DL Kenny Clark.

Kenny Clark has been a part of some very good rosters since entering the NFL in 2016. Clark has played for four different Green Bay Packers teams to reach the NFC Championshi Gamep, only to come up short each time. This year’s team feels different for Clark, especially on defense.

“We got a lot of talent,” Clark said. “This is the most talent I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here, so we can be as good as we want to be. Every single level of the defense, we’ve got Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber players.”

Clark is right in that the Packers have a stud at each level of their defense. Between him, De’Vondre Campbell, and Jaire Alexander, Green Bay has a standout on all three levels with either a Pro Bowl or All-Pro nod. Throw in Rashan Gary, and you have a pass rusher who will soon be another Pro Bowler.

Last year felt like a golden opportunity. Alexander was hurt for most of last season but returned to the lineup for Green Bay’s divisional-round matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time since week 4 when the Packers had all their defensive stars playing together. The defense showed up, holding the 49ers to just six points. Unfortunately, a poor offensive showing squandered what was arguably Green Bay’s best defensive unit in quite some time.

With 2021 being an exception, past defenses for the Packers always had a hole. A poor run defense or costly secondary has typically led to their demise.

If last year’s defense had a flaw, it was their depth on the defensive line. For years, the team has failed to surround Clark with adequate help in the trenches. So, they went out and signed a reliable veteran in Jarran Reed and used one of their two first-round draft picks on defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. Insert those guys into a rotation that already had Dean Lowry and TJ Slaton, and Green Bay has given Clark exactly what he and this defense need.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing for us just to keep us fresh,” Clark said. “It’s hard to stop anyone of us when we come on the field on third down and being able to rush the passer and have our legs under us. It’s going to be hard for any offense to stop us.”

On paper, this group looks complete, but the Packers will have to put it all together on the field to avoid another early playoff exit.

[listicle id=81679]

Packers C Josh Myers to wear braces on both knees in 2022

Green Bay Packers center Josh Myers is willing to sacrifice some mobility for a greater chance at availability during his second NFL season.

Green Bay Packers center Josh Myers is willing to sacrifice some mobility for a greater chance at availability during his second NFL season.

Myers, who missed 10 games as a rookie with a significant knee injury, told Packers.com that he’ll wear braces on both knees in 2022.

There’s a trade off: While protective, the bulky braces are heavy and can limit flexibility in the lower body. But Myers is willing to “work around” the issues to safeguard his knees against another major injury.

“They really don’t bother me that much. So I felt like it was a small sacrifice to make to protect my knees,” Myers said, via Mike Spofford of the team’s official site.

Although common in the college game, NFL offensive linemen don’t often wear braces because of the mobility restrictions. The underlying idea is that the brace can stabilize the knee joint and help prevent the most common (and most serious) injuries faced by offensive linemen.

The Packers’ young center just wants to stay on the field.

Myers, a second-round pick of the Packers in 2021, won the Week 1 starting job at center. He played in the first four games, injured his finger and missed a game, returned in Chicago for Week 6 but then injured his knee early in the first quarter. He tore his MCL and suffered a tibial plateau fracture, a similar injury to what Aaron Rodgers suffered in Week 1 of the 2018 season.

“What happened in the Bears game was, I tore my MCL, and I also had a tibial plateau fracture,” Myers said back in January. “They ended up doing surgery on both. They did a scope on my MCL, and then they did a plate and six screws in my tibia. That was the process, so I was non-weight bearing for six weeks and just rehabbing it and trying to get motion back in my knee.”

It was a long and mentally draining recovery process. After sitting out 10 games, Myers returned for Week 18 and played in both the season finale and the division round playoff loss to the 49ers.

By wearing braces on both knees, Myers is hoping to avoid another significant lower-body injury and be available for the Packers offensive line throughout the 2022 season.

A healthy season for Myers could mean a big jump in performance as a second-year player. And the Packers need him on the field. With both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins coming back from major injuries and uncertain starters at several spots entering the season, Myers’ availability in the middle of the offensive line is even more important and valuable.

[listicle id=77937]

Poll: Who gets more touches in 2022, Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillon?

Which Packers running back receives more touches during the 2022 season, Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillon?

The Green Bay Packers have a good problem entering the 2022 season: Two excellent running backs who need as many touches as they can get.

Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon both went over 1,000 total yards last season, and they’ll both be asked to be engines for an offense that lost receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

“We’re fortunate; we’ve got two No. 1 backs,” coach Matt LaFleur said in March.

In 2021, Jones produced 1,190 total yards and scored 10 total touchdowns on 223 touches, while Dillon produced 1,116 and scored seven total touchdowns on 221 touches.

Both backs could see more of the football in 2022, especially in the passing game. Jones and Dillon are capable pass-catchers, and LaFleur is adept at game-planning touches for weapons. He now has an obvious need to evolve the offense and center the scheme around his running back duo.

In fact, there’s a strong case to be made for the Packers finding a way to get 500 or more combined touches to Jones and Dillon this season.

There’s even a chance the offense will have more packages with Jones and Dillon on the field together.

A fun offseason question to ponder: Which running back will finish with more touches in 2022?

Jones is the No. 1 back, and he’s a better overall receiver. His reception total could increase as an underneath option. At the peak of his powers in 2019, Jones handled 285 touches. But Dillon is perfectly built for a big workload as a runner, and his desire to be an “APB,” or all-purpose back, could mean more snaps and more touches as a third-year player. It’s worth noting: Jones has missed at least two games to injury during four of his five NFL seasons.

You make the call: Does Jones or Dillon finish with more touches during the 2022 season?

[polldaddy poll=11148378]

[listicle id=81700]

Packers training camp roster preview: Running backs

Previewing the running backs on the Packers’ 90-man roster entering training camp.

The Green Bay Packers begin training camp practices on Wednesday, July 27. Over the next month, Packers Wire will break down the 90-man roster at every position group, highlighting roster locks, positional battles and strengths and weaknesses entering training camp.

We continue our training camp roster preview for the Packers at the running back position:

Breaking down the Packers’ almost $25 million in dead money in 2022

The Packers have almost $25 million in the form of dead money on the salary cap in 2022. Here’s a breakdown of how that happened.

The terminated contracts of nine players will count roughly $25 million in dead money on the Green Bay Packers’ salary cap during the 2022 season. Dead money occurs on the cap when a future proration is accelerated by a contract termination made by the team.

For instance, let’s say a player signs a three-year contract with a $3 million signing bonus. The bonus doesn’t hit the cap all in Year 1; it’s prorated $1 million on the cap for each of the three years. So, if the player is released after his second season, the remaining $1 million must be accelerated onto the team’s cap as dead money that year.

Some real-life examples will help clarify. Below, we’ll break down how the Packers got to $24,630,944 in dead money in 2022. It’s an abnormally high amount for the franchise, but sometimes dead money is the cost of doing business when a team is all-in and going for a title with a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The toughest part about dead money? It’s paying precious cap dollars to a player no longer on the team. And in some cases, it’s allocating more cap space to a player that eventually returns.

Here are the nine terminated contracts adding extra dead money to the Packers’ salary cap in 2022:

DK Metcalf lists Packers’ Jaire Alexander among toughest CBs to play against

Nothing reflects true respect like the admiration of peers. DK Metcalf sees Jaire Alexander as an elite NFL cornerback.

Nothing reflects true respect like the admiration of peers. According to one of the NFL’s best receivers, Jaire Alexander of the Green Bay Packers sits in an elite category of cornerbacks.

Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf recently told Kevin Hart that Alexander is among three different cornerbacks who give him the “most trouble” on the field. In order, Metcalf listed Jalen Ramsey, Alexander and Xavien Howard as his top three.

Ramsey has been a first-team All-Pro each of the last two seasons. Howard was a first-team pick in 2020 and a second-team pick in 2021. Alexander, a second-team All-Pro in 2020, might have joined the pair as back-to-back All-Pros had he not injured his shoulder in Week 4 last season.

Metcalf has played the Packers twice: Once during the 2019 divisional round playoffs, and once during the regular season last year. Alexander helped hold Metcalf to 59 yards on four catches in the Packers’ playoff win in January of 2020. But that has been the only meeting between the two elite players. Last season, the Alexander-less Packers held Metcalf to just 26 yards on three catches during a 17-0 shutout at Lambeau Field.

Metcalf probably isn’t alone in his opinion. Alexander, who just signed the most lucrative contract by a defensive back, has given a lot of No. 1 receivers problems over the last few seasons.

It’s unclear when Alexander and Metcalf will meet again. The Packers don’t play the Seahawks during the 2022 season, although a postseason matchup is theoretically possible. Metcalf is a free agent following the 2022 season, and the Packers aren’t certain to play the Seahawks again until the 2024 season.

[listicle id=81679]

Packers post-offseason workout program 53-man roster prediction

Predicting the Packers’ 53-man roster following the team’s offseason workout program.

The three-phased, nine-week offseason workout program is finished for the Green Bay Packers ahead of the 2022 season. Players can now enjoy a brief summer vacation before returning to Green Bay in late July for the start of training camp. Rookies are to report on July 22, while veterans need to be back by July 26. The first practice is Wednesday, July 27.

Training camp and preseason games will provide the vital information needed to make decisions on a final roster, but here’s a post-workout program prediction on the Packers’ 53-man roster to start the 2022 regular season: