Depth chart provides little insight

The Green Bay Packers released their training camp depth chart this week, which serves only as a starting point for those trying to make the team's 53-man roster, says's Steve Lawrence.

With little fanfare, the Green Bay Packers posted their training camp depth chart on their web site earlier in the week. There were a few eye-openers, such as:

Wide receiver
Robert Ferguson opens camp as the starting split end. Rookie Greg Jennings is No. 2. Nothing overly surprising there, but undrafted free agent Chris Francies, who comes from a run-and-shoot background at Texas-El Paso, is the No. 3, ahead of fourth-round draft pick Cory Rodgers (No. 4), super-speedy Leo Bookman (No. 5) and NFL Europe standout Chad Lucas (No. 6).

At flanker, Donald Driver starts, and Rod Gardner is ahead of Marc Boerigter in the battle for No. 2.

Running backs
Ahman Green won't be ready for the start of training camp, but he enters camp as the first-stringer. The top backup is Samkon Gado, ahead of Najeh Davenport, who also won't be ready for the start of camp.

Offensive line
Much was made of rookie Jason Spitz supplanting second-year player Junius Coston at right guard during the organized team activities. At the time, I wrote here that way too much was being made of the switch. Well, when camp opens, it will be Coston lining up with the first team. It will be a must-see battle, nonetheless.

Defensive tackle
Not much was made of the Packers signing Kenderick Allen during free agency, probably because Allen never did much during his three years with the New York Giants. Allen, however, opens camp as the starter at left defensive tackle, ahead of promising young veterans Cullen Jenkins and Colin Cole. It should be one of the hottest battles of training camp.

There has been speculation the Packers would move rookie Abdul Hodge to the strong side, but that won't happen, at least right away. Camp will open with Ben Taylor on the strong side, Nick Barnett in the middle and first-round pick A.J. Hawk on the weak side. If he gets healthy in time, Brady Poppinga will present a major challenge to Taylor, who was solid in Cleveland but wasn't involved in a turnover-causing play and has no pass-rush ability.

Defensive backs
No surprises at all, with the slight exception of rookie Will Blackmon being the No. 3 left cornerback while the top backup on the right side is second-year player Michael Hawkins. The Packers must be really high on Hawkins, because Blackmon will never see the field on the left side behind Charles Woodson and Ahmad Carroll.

Special teams
The Packers tried to downplay the butt-kicking Canadian import Jon Ryan put on incumbent B.J. Sander during the offseason, but Ryan will start camp as the top punter. It will be interesting to see if Sander can rise to the occasion, since his professional livelihood is on the line.

Interestingly, Woodson will open camp as the No. 1 punt returner. Woodson certainly has the pedigree, but given his injury history and the important role he's expected to play on defense, it would be a shock if the Packers don't eventually give the role to one of the youngsters. Speaking of those youngsters, Jennings is second on the depth chart, followed by Blackmon and Rodgers. Rodgers was drafted in large part on his special-teams ability — he ranked third in the nation on kickoff returns and eighth on punt returns at Texas Christian — so his low standing is not a good sign.

Four rookies are among the top five on the depth chart at kickoff returner. Davenport and Blackmon are the top two, followed by Jennings, Rodgers and Bookman. Carroll, the Packers' top returner last season, is No. 6.

What does all of this mean? Practically nothing. The off-season gave the new regime a first impression and a jumping-off point, but training camp — when players are tackled and the daily grind weeds out those who aren't mentally tough — will be the ultimate litmus test.

Note: Lawrence is a regular contributor to E-mail him at

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