Green Bay Packers: 5 Players With Most to Lose During Training Camp
5 Green Bay Packers With Most to Lose in 2013 Training Camp
For the Green Bay Packers, the focus of camp is no mystery. Though the Green Bay defense was much improved last year— finishing 11th in points allowed—the running game and offensive line left much to be desired. Despite the defense's improvement during the regular season, the 579 yards yielded to Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers in last year's divisional playoffs mean that coach Mike McCarthy will have to devote time to covering the read-option in camp.
The Packers have much to be excited about. The team that will report for camp this month is younger and hungrier than last year. The glow of Super Bowl XLV has long since worn off, and the Packers must once again prove that their team is more than just the unstoppable Aaron Rodgers.
To be sure, it hurts to lose Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, three of the biggest impact players Green Bay has had in a generation. Even so, General Manager Ted Thompson understands that football is not a game of emotional attachment; it is a young man's game. With the strictest salary cap in professional sports, old or expensive veterans must be cast aside in favor of young talent. Even without Jennings or Driver, the Packers still boast one of the finest receiving corps in professional football.
This camp is bound to be an eventful one, and with that we will take a look at the five Packers who should dig deepest, for they have much to lose if their performance is not up to the Green Bay standard.
5. Alex Green
The young running back had 134 carries last year for the Packers following the injury to James Starks. Unfortunately, he only averaged 3.4 yards on those carries. You'd better believe he'll face stiff competition for carries when draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin show up for camp.
4. DuJuan Harris
DuJuan Harris also saw more action in 2012 after the Starks injury and was reasonably successful with 157 yards on 34 carries. Unless he raises his game, however, he could easily lose ground to the young guns and fall to the bottom of the depth chart.
3. Mike Neal
The addition of first round pick Datone Jones makes things interesting for the Packers' defensive linemen. Any combination of Jones, Neal, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson or even Johnny Jolly (should he make the team) could line up for the Pack. Whoever starts in the 3-4 will need to have the speed necessary to chase down Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks starter Russell Wilson. If Neal can't show that speed, don't expect him to see much time.
2. Don Barclay
Just as there will be intense competition on the defensive line when players report to camp, expect the coveted spots on the offensive front to be similarly contested. McCarthy has already decided that tackle Bryan Bulaga and guard Josh Sitton will protect Rodgers' blindside and T.J. Lang will start at right guard, leaving the right tackle position available to Barclay, Derrick Sherrod and last year's left tackle Marshall Newhouse. If the competition doesn't break Barclay's way, he may well be out of a job.
1. James Starks
Starks is the big question mark of the Packers' running game. Will he ever regain his 2011 Wild Card Game form, when he rushed for 123 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, or will he continue to languish in mediocrity? Whatever his true potential, his best days may already be behind him if he doesn't have a big camp.