Packers begin OTAs, providing first look at position battles
With both veterans and rookies expected to report for organized-team activities this week, the Packers will get a preview of the key position battles on the roster.
The Green Bay Packers formally begin organized-team activities today, one of the pillars of the offseason program for every club. Unlike previous workouts and meetings this offseason, OTAs should involve the lion's share of both the veterans and the rookies. That includes the Packers' new starting quarterback, a marked departure from the recent past with Aaron Rodgers.
Today's edition of The Leap highlights some of the key position battles that will play out on the practice field for the first time this year.
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What will you monitor most closely during OTAs?
Jason B. Hirschhorn: When it comes to evaluation, one should approach organized-team activities with caution. While much of the roster will take part in the activities, all practice sessions have strict no-contact rules and players cannot wear more than their helmet and basic knee and elbow protection. These sessions boil down to glorified walkthroughs.
But that doesn't mean you can't glean useful information from the on-field work. With the offensive line, how the coaches group the players together can speak volumes about how the staff currently views the open spots and who might have the inside track. As the Packers have stated, up to three spots along the line will have competition this year. Accordingly, whether, say, Zach Tom sees work at right tackle or begins along the interior could provide critical early information about those battles.
The Packers will allow the media into practice on Tuesday as well as dates each of the next two weeks. Some of that access could overlap with position work in which case the order of the offensive linemen might become apparent.
Which rookie do you anticipate garnering the most glowing reviews?
JBH: Because of the aforementioned no-contact nature of OTAs, the quarterbacks, pass catchers, and defensive backs tend to have the most significant on-field impact. While teams can hold some 11-on-11 work, most of the "highlights" will come from the seven-on-seven and position work.
With that in mind, one of the Packers' rookie wideouts should have an opportunity to garner attention. Second-round pick Jayden Reed might seem like the obvious candidate, but he seems poised to enter training camp with a pretty clear range of roles he could play as a rookie. Other than injury or some other unforeseeable development, he probably can't significantly tilt his stock much during OTAs.
Conversely, fifth-rounder Dontayvion Wicks could actually make more headway during OTAs given his starting point. Wicks possesses genuinely top-tier athleticism for an NFL receiver and checks just about every box for Green Bay physically. However, he dealt with drops during his final season at Virginia, an issue that contributed to his production decline as a senior. That remains one of the big questions surrounding his career prospects.
"A lot of his drops when you really slow-mo them are trying to turn and run before he caught it," Packers passing-game coordinator Jason Vrable said of Wicks last week. "Maybe your team's not winning as much so you feel like you have to do extra when it's typically not the case. It's just playing with your great fundamentals and then let the plays happen.
"Slowing down, play with great fundamentals like you did on all the other catches. Play within who you are, the best version of yourself. You can't be Superman out there and try to win the game every single play."
Wicks can't dismiss those concerns during OTAs, but he can start that process in a meaningful way this week. He could also exacerbate those concerns, so this one could go either way.
Finish the sentence: Davante Adams saying he "didn't need Aaron Rodgers" is …
JBH: … correct and not a slight against his former quarterback. The quote comes from a story published by The Ringer this past week. In that same piece, Davante Adams refers to Aaron Rodgers as "a hell of a quarterback," one so great that he often received credit for Adams' accomplishments. But before the end of Adams' run in Green Bay, he established himself as arguably the league's finest receiver, earning back-to-back first-team All-Pro nods for his efforts. Adams earned a third this past season with the Las Vegas Raiders. Given that he did so with a signal-caller the team voluntarily replaced this offseason, no one should doubt that Adams -- not anyone else -- owns his success.
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