Every NFL team has players that struggle with a bad season or suffer significant injuries and the Green Bay Packers are no exception. To have success, teams need these players to bounce back from poor seasons or return successfully from injury.
Here is a look at five Packers who are hoping to have a bounce back season in 2022 whether it be from injury, poor play or both:
- WR Amari Rodgers
Amari Rodgers had a disappointing first season in the NFL. Once the Packers traded for Randall Cobb, the writing was on the wall that Amari Rodgers wouldn’t get as many chances to play on offense because Cobb was essentially a more experienced player with the same role Amari Rodgers was expected to play as the slot receiver.
Rodgers only played 10 percent of the Packers snaps on offense last season and made four catches for 45 yards. He was also tentative on punt returns and had difficulty catching the ball and judging when to field a punt and when to let it go.
Amari Rodgers may have bulked up a little too much before the 2021 season in anticipation of needing more strength to go up against NFL cornerbacks.
Hopefully, the game slows down for him and he can make a second-year leap in 2022. The Packers will need more from Amari Rodgers this year with Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both playing elsewhere.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan is coming off a major, season-ending knee injury that cost him the final nine games of the 2021 campaign. The former Indiana State star may not be ready to start the 2022 season depending on the speed of his recovery and rehab.
Even before his injury, Tonyan’s production was down as compared to his stellar 2020 season. In 2020, Tonyan caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. His catch percentage was 88.1 percent. In 2021, in just eight games, he was limited to 18 catches for 204 yards and two scores while his catch percentage dropped to 62.1 percent according to pro-football-reference.com.
Some of Tonyan’s reduced production was due to injuries on the offensive line. When both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were injured early in the season, Yosh Nijman stepped into the starting lineup at left tackle. The Packers had tight ends and running backs stay in to help chip pass rushers to give Nijman some help. That meant fewer pass patterns for Tonyan and quicker release passes when he did go out into a pattern.
It remains to be seen when Tonyan will be back in the lineup but the Packers certainly can use a bounce back season from their top receiving tight end. The fact that he signed a one-year, prove-it contract will certainly give Tonyan a little more incentive to perform well this year.
- CB Jaire Alexander
For Jaire Alexander, the key is just to get healthy again and pick up where he left off before he was injured. In 2020, the Louisville product was a Pro Bowler and was considered one of the best cover corners in the league.
Alexander was lost for the rest of the regular season when he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 4 against the Steelers. He recently signed a large contract extension that made him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL.
As far as the Packers are concerned, it’s time for Alexander to start earning that money. If he returns to his pre-injury form, the Packers should have a trio of top cornerbacks that are among the best in the league.
- S Darnell Savage
In the second half of the 2020 season, Darnell Savage was playing at a near Pro Bowl level. He and Adrian Amos thrived in Mike Pettine’s defensive system. Savage did very well in the box where he could make plays on the ball while Amos played more of a centerfield in the secondary where his positional play would be most beneficial.
In 2021, Joe Barry took over as defensive coordinator and Savage’s role changed. He struggled a bit in the new system and was much more inconsistent in his play.
The Packers need Savage to return to the form he showed in late 2020. If he does, the Packers starting safeties could be among the best in the NFL.
- OT David Bakhtiari
The Packers offensive line was hit hard by injuries in 2021. Elgton Jenkins was lost midseason with a knee injury. Billy Turner missed the last few games of the season and starting center Josh Myers also missed substantial time due to assorted injuries.
But the biggest injury was All Pro left tackle, David Bakhtiari. Before the injury, Bakhtiari was considered the best pass blocking offensive tackle in the league by many experts and he’s been protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side since 2013.
A knee injury suffered before the 2020 regular-season finale caused Bakhtiari to miss nearly all the 2021 campaign. In fact, he played only 27 snaps all season and those came in the first half of the Packers meaningless Week 18 meeting with the Lions. Unfortunately, Bakhtiari was unable to play in the playoff game against San Francisco two weeks later.
If Bakhtiari returns to anchor the left tackle position, the Packers offensive line should be even better this season. If Jenkins returns by midseason, the Packers will have two elite tackles assuming Jenkins plays right tackle once he’s healthy. He also adds leadership and experience to a young unit that will be a key part to the team’s offensive success.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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