Packers' training camp goals

Three biggest areas of concern Green bay faces prior to start of training camp on July 28

1. Who's going to fill Ahman Green's cleats?
The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing last season, and they don't have an experienced candidate on the roster to make up for the free-agent departure of workhorse featured back Green to Houston.

Indications in the off-season were that a back-by-committee approach will be in the offing, at least at the start of the season.

Vernand Morency, in his third pro season, is the top incumbent and averaged 4.6 yards per carry when he occasionally spelled Green last season. Questions abound, however, on whether Morency, who isn't in Green's league as a punishing back, can carry a full load.

As such, rookie Brandon Jackson stands a good chance of platooning with Morency. The second-round draftee, not unlike Morency, is quick and shifty but also lacks the credentials of being a full-time guy when he was at Nebraska.

2. The end zone isn't that far out of reach.
Until the cloudy situation at running back is resolved, it will be incumbent on the offense to reverse its immunization of punching the football in the end zone from within 20 yards.

The Packers ranked last in the NFC and 31st in the league last season with a red-zone touchdown efficiency of 32.7 percent. Brett Favre was done no favors by a mostly inexperienced receiving group and a bevy of dropped passes.

The upgrades Favre wanted in the offseason (namely Randy Moss) didn't materialize. So, the "X" factors in any improvement being made from 2006 are a healthy Greg Jennings, Bubba Franks' remembering how to catch before breaking the goal line and possibly regaining the services of Koren Robinson in October after he finishes serving a one-year suspension.

3. Finding a safety valve that won't spring a leak.
All 11 starters from the end of last season potentially could form the opening-day lineup this season, but the weakest link - strong safety Marquand Manuel - is in jeopardy of being replaced.

Manuel was an unequivocal bust as a free-agent addition, getting turned around in zone coverage and proving lax with his tackling. Three possible replacements are lurking in the secondary - young returnees Marviel Underwood and Atari Bigby and rookie Aaron Rouse.

The hard-hitting Underwood was pushing Manuel for the job last year before he suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the preseason. Bigby, a practice-squad guy most of last season, impressed coaches in the offseason. The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Rouse, a third-round draft pick, is imposing for the position.

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