By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
Size, speed and instincts on display for skill position players, defensive backs
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The problem with OTA’s is the potential to come away believing everything is A-OK.
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Shorts and shirts isn’t full speed with pads. The live 11-on-11 hitting – not to mention the one-on-one pass blocking drills and all they reveal – must wait until training camp.
That doesn’t mean OTA’s aren’t instructive though.
It’s just not live football.
Here’s what to look for when the Green Bay Packers take the field Tuesday to begin off-season team activities:
** The position unit pecking order:
When the Packers’ No. 1 defense takes the field which players will be lined up where? Who will be opposite Kevin King at cornerback? Will Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson cover the slot or perimeter receiver?
Where will Muhammad Wilkerson and Tramon Williams fit? I suspect both will be in the starting lineup.
What does Montravius Adams look like? I can’t recall. Will he line up behind Kenny Clark? Or perhaps he’ll play the “Five technique” in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme.
At receiver, it’s crystal clear at the top with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, but beyond that there are jobs to be won.
Rookie draft picks Ja’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown will begin sizing up veterans Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Michael Clark.
I’m extremely curious to see how the rookie receivers’ size, speed and pass-catching ability compares with the veterans’.
** Checking out the new offensive weapon:
Jimmy Graham is going to draw as much attention from Packers’ fans as opposing defenses. Graham, who essentially IS the tight end position group, brings cache and star power.
He’s also dynamic when the offense reaches the red zone.
Who isn’t curious to see a tight end with his size and speed cruising through the heart of a defense?
I know I am.
** Running backs trying to get traction:
Jamaal Williams appears to be the most likely answer to the question: Who is going to be the Packers’ starting back?
Williams rushed for 556 yards and showed the ability to hit holes, get what’s blocked, and catch it out of the backfield.
Ty Montgomery, who’s down to his last shot, will be a factor if he can stay healthy. That’s not a news flash, though.
Aaron Jones is explosive, but he also was injury-plagued. Devante Mayes feels like a long shot to contribute. He will need to be detail oriented and fumble free to have a chance.
** Who will be Aaron Rodgers’ backup to open OTA’s?
Is it going to be holdover Brett Hundley or newly acquired DeShone Kizer?
McCarthy said he felt Kizer would’ve been one of the top quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft. If that’s true, he needs to back that bold statement and name Kizer the No. 2 quarterback.
New quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti Jr., who replaced Alex Van Pelt, walks into an interesting dynamic.
Rodgers, I suspect, is anxious to rinse the bad taste from last season and get on with a new quarterback room.
** Getting the right side of the offensive line “right.”
David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley form a strong left side of the Packers’ offensive line. The right side is something of a mystery, however.
Jahri Evans’ future is unclear as he remains unsigned. Bryan Bulaga is rehabilitating his knee and likely won’t be ready for the regular-season opener.
So what’s an offensive line coach to do?
James Campen knows the drill, certainly, and he’s got offensive coordinator Joe Philbin (a former OL coach), to work with now.
I suspect rookie Cole Madison will line up at right guard, where Evans played, and Justin McCray, Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs will slug it out at right tackle until Bulaga returns.
** Getting to know the defense:
Pettine, the new coordinator, is going to be a prime source of curiosity. Both media and fans are anxious to see his scheme in action. Will he bring multiple fronts? Will he move Clay Matthews around? Where will rookie hybrid Oren Burks play?
Just how aggressive IS this Pettine defense going to be?
It’s only OTA’s, but it’s at least a glimpse into the Packers as they prepare for what is sure to be a pivotal season.