By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 9, 2014
The Green Bay Packers have been working hard over the past few weeks in training camp. Now, the players will have their opportunity to shine and show the coaching staff that they are worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. Even though Saturday night is only the team’s first preseason game, every moment will count. Here’s a look at 15 players to watch during all four preseason games.
Ryan Taylor was once believed to have the potential to be a major contributor at tight end. Unfortunately, he may be one of the players who are cut in training camp. The reality is he never took the next step in showing the Packers he’s capable of being a contributor on offense. For that reason, he must put forth a stellar effort during the limited action he gets in the preseason games if he wants to continue playing in Green Bay.
The Packers need an offensive lineman who can come off the bench and fill in for the two guard positions. As of right now, Lane Taylor is someone who is certainly capable of fulfilling the role. In his second year, he feels more comfortable in the offense, which should allow him to progress nicely.
Rookie center Corey Linsley has been lighting it up in practice since training camp began. In fact, he’s giving probable starter JC Tretter a run for his money. Linsley has dominated in the one-on-one pass rushing drills, as Bryan Bulaga and T.J. Lang are the only two offensive linemen who have scored higher. Linsley has got the attention of the coaching staff, which is why he’s someone who will be fun to watch during the preseason.
Myles White should consider himself fortunate that he has the chance to compete for the fifth wide receiver spot. The reason I say that is because I had him getting cut with Jared Abbrederis being No. 5 on the depth chart. However, Abbrederis’ season-ending injury has opened the door for White to show the Packers he’s worthy of sticking around. With plenty of competition at receiver, he will have to do something special to stand out.
Most fans may not know the name Mike Pennel, but the fact that the defensive tackle was praised by head coach Mike McCarthy in front of the media is a clear sign that he’s someone who must be watched during the preseason. Pennel has the perfect size to fit the role the Packers will need him for. At this point, he must prove that he’s worth a roster spot by performing well in preseason.
Derek Sherrod is on the verge of becoming a colossal bust for Green Bay. The former first-round draft pick has no shot at taking away a starting job from left tackle David Bakhtiari or right tackle Bulaga. At this point, his only hope is to be the first offensive tackle off the bench in case of an injury. It’s his job to lose after Don Barclay went down with an ACL tear. Sherrod is still someone fans will want to watch just to see his progress.
Brandon Bostick is someone who has the potential to be a legitimate threat at the tight end position. He has the offensive capability of a Jermichael Finley, while he’s also the team’s best blocking tight end. The Packers have given him opportunities in camp to work with the starters, which means they have high hopes for him to have an impact on offense in 2014.
Wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard has already impressed in his limited time with the Packers. The former Baltimore Raven is a long shot to earn a roster spot, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be given an opportunity to shine. It’s players like Sheppard that make the preseason exciting because he’s a unfamiliar player who could explode and become a diamond in the rough.
Jamari Lattimore is one of the best linebackers the Packers have against the run. Even though he’s highly unlikely to take Brad Jones’ starting job away, there’s no denying that he will play a big role for Green Bay. If A.J. Hawk or Jones can’t get the job done in run defense, which has been an area of weakness for the two linebackers, then expect to see more of Lattimore.
Along with Sherrod, Nick Perry is on the verge of being a first-round bust for the Packers. He was drafted to be an outside threat opposite of Clay Matthews. Instead, he has been buried on the depth chart due to the emergence of Mike Neal and addition of Julius Peppers. Perry should still get decent playing time in 2014, but that will depend on what he shows the coaches in the preseason.
Sean Richardson has excelled in training camp in the place of the injured safety Morgan Burnett. Some have even gone as far as to say Richardson could start over Burnett, especially if Burnett doesn’t raise his level of play this season. Considering Green Bay needs to see a vast improvement in the secondary, the every defensive back who lines up will be worth keeping an eye on during the preseason.
Micah Hyde has emerged as the favorite to start at free safety ahead of rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The cornerback turned safety has been a breath of fresh air, especially for being an undrafted free agent. At this point, the more competition at the team’s weakest position the better. Look for Hyde to dominate every chance he gets to show the Packers he’s worthy of a starting role. If anything, he will be used as a hybrid defensive back.
Safety Chris Banjo is definitely one of the defensive backs on the bubble in camp. For that reason, he’s someone to watch because he might surprise with his play due to his back being up against the wall. With Hyde, Richardson and Clinton-Dix playing well, it’s hard to imagine Banjo will ever see the light of day on defense during the regular season. With that said, he could have a big role on special teams.
Rookie Davante Adams will be competing against Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 wide receiver spot on the depth chart. Adams has made some superb catches in camp, but unfortunately, he’s also dropped a few. The only thing that matters is what he accomplishes when given the opportunity to play in the preseason games. With so much talent, Adams is definitely someone worth watching.
All eyes will be on Green Bay’s first-round draft pick when he takes the field for the first time. If Clinton-Dix wants to secure his job as the starting free safety, he’s going to have to outplay Hyde. In my opinion, there’s no one who fans should be more eager to watch than Clinton-Dix due to his big-play potential in the secondary.
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