By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on July 30, 2014
With the Green Bay Packers training camp in full swing, it’s important for fans to keep a close eye on which players are making a difference and which players will wash out. More importantly, it is good to look at which players have a solid chance of making the active roster. Based on training camp, here’s a prediction of Green Bay’s final 53-man roster in 2014.
The reason the Packers need three quarterbacks is because of what happened last year. Green Bay got lucky that 8-7-1 was good enough to make the playoffs. However, it is imperative that they are more careful in 2014. The hope is that Aaron Rodgers will last an entire season, but the reality is two backup quarterbacks are necessary.
Eddie Lacy is the class of the running back position for the Packers. Ideally, he will take the next step in 2014 and provide an unstoppable air and ground attack with Rodgers. James Starks will be there to supply the 1-2 punch with Lacy. The most intriguing running back will be DuJuan Harris, someone the Packers are very high on. It will be interesting to see what he adds to the team this season.
There’s a good chance Green Bay will only keep five wide receives on the 53-man roster. However, the truth is there’s so much talent and depth at the position that putting six on the active roster isn’t a bad idea. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will lead the charge. Meanwhile, Jarrett Boykin should have a breakout year with the pressure on the top two receivers. I’m very excited to see what Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis bring to the table.
With Jermichael Finley not expected back, Andrew Quarless is going to have to have a year to remember. The good news is he has the necessary experience to take his game to the next level. Brandon Bostick has the look of a Finley, while Colt Lyerla is loaded with potential. In fact, Lyerla could be the difference maker if given the opportunity.
I fully expect the starting offensive line to be David Bakhtiari (LT), Josh Sitton (LG), JC Tretter (C), T.J. Lang (RG) and Bryan Bulaga (RT). Don Barclay is able to fill in at multiple roles, which is a great talent to have. The hope is that Derek Sherrod will provide some competition in camp, but I don’t see him beating out Bakhtiari, at least not right now.
If healthy, Green Bay’s defensive line could surprise a lot of people this season. There’s enough talent for the unit to become one of the best in the league. If the Packers want to see success, they will need the D-line to step up. That means clogging running lanes and applying pressure to the quarterback. Expect big years out of Mike Daniels, Mike Neal and Datone Jones. Hopefully, B.J. Raji can show he deserves more than a one-year deal.
In general, the linebacker unit has incredible depth. Every single one of the linebackers, whether it’s inside or outside, has the ability to bring something worthwhile to the table. That will allow head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers to utilize several different packages to slow down opposing offenses. A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones must step their game up, as it is their duty to slow down the running game.
Clay Matthews is the best in the business when healthy, period. The biggest issue has been finding a consistent pass rusher to go along with him in order to remove some blockers from slowing him down. For that reason, the addition of Julius Peppers is a potential game changer. In fact, there’s nothing I’m more excited about than getting the ability to watch Matthews and Peppers work together to get after quarterbacks.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The safety unit was dismal last season, which is why the Packers drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. The hope is that Morgan Burnett will get back to where he should be and Micah Hyde will provide quality competition. What fans don’t realize is Green Bay’s defensive backs are underrated. There’s definitely talent, but it will only come to fruition if the overall defense improves. Takeaways will be important in 2014.
The special teams unit remains the same as it has for years. Mason Crosby bounced back brilliantly after a career-low 2012 season. Also, Tim Masthay remains one of the best punters in the business, and there are no complaints about Brett Goode’s job as the long snapper.
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