Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll be giving you one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry.
Top training camp battles: Offense
Here are the top five battles, ranked in order of importance.
1. Starting left tackle: Will Derek Sherrod return to practice before Marshall Newhouse locks up the position? Will Newhouse flash the inconsistency he showed last season, when he ranked 56th of 57 offensive tackles in pass protection by ProFootballFocus.com, and leave the door open?
On paper, this should be no contest. Sherrod was the first-round draft pick in 2011; Newhouse lasted until a fifth-round compensatory pick in 2010. Then again, it's not as if the Packers' offense struggled after Newhouse replaced Chad Clifton. Newhouse should be improved with last year's experience and this year's focus and reps at left tackle. Plus, he's got the entire offseason as a head-start.
Nevertheless, Newhouse isn't taking anything for granted.
"Marshall comes to work and does his job and knows his assignments," offensive line coach James Campen said. "We've been preparing him. He basically was a starting tackle last year for a lot of games, on both sides. I'm sure he probably feels more comfortable staying in one spot. I mean, what player wouldn't? But, nope, he's the same guy."
2. No. 2 quarterback: Graham Harrell is the overwhelming favorite but how much patience do the coaches and general manager Ted Thompson show if he struggles in the first couple of preseason games? Can seventh-round pick B.J. Coleman get a grasp of the playbook and new mechanics quickly enough to push for the job? Or does Thompson have to go shopping to bring in someone with some experience?
3. Running back snaps: James Starks is the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 back but can he solidify that status by staying healthy through the preseason? Can Alex Green, a third-round pick last year who barely played as a rookie because of a torn ACL, get on the field and show he's as good in pass protection as he is carrying the ball? Or does Brandon Saine, who does everything well but doesn't have any overwhelming traits, push for a bigger role?
Remember, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has more career rushing yards than all of the running backs combined. That more than anything signals the youth of a group featuring Starks (third year), Green and Saine (second years) and two undrafted rookies.
"Your job as a coach is to take the individual and his strengths and maximize those and develop those things that you perceive as a weakness," coach Mike McCarthy told ESPNMilwaukee.com's "Green and Gold Today" radio program. "And the one thing we perceive as a weakness in the running back group is youth. And we feel like we have a very good formula of success for developing young players. That's really the only – I don't even like to say the word ‘concern,' because I'm not concerned about it. It's really the only obstacle that group needs to overcome."
4. Tight end depth: Andrew Quarless (knee) might not be available to start the regular season — or play at all this season. He averaged 20 snaps in his 10 games. Who picks up that slack? Tom Crabtree's role is probably maxed out because he's basically a one-dimensional blocker. That leaves it to second-year players D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor. They'll get plenty of action in training camp and the preseason to figure it out. If nobody steps up, McCarthy is going to have to scrap some of his two- and three-tight-end looks for more three,- four- and five-receiver packages.
5. No. 6 wide receiver: You know the names. At 6-foot-4, Tori Gurley is almost always open. Diondre Borel, with his quarterback background, has a great feel for the game. Really, given the veteran talent at receiver, the opportunities to make plays in the passing game will be few and far between. That's why, for all the interest in this battle, we have it ranked at the bottom of this list.
Special teams almost always is the determining factor in these end-of-the-depth-chart battles. Gurley was a one-man block party on punts at training camp last year. Borel will have to make his mark on the coverage units.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.