The Green Bay Packers are preparing for their first preseason game later this week as training camp continues. While the team has endured its share of injuries and disappointments, there have been encouraging developments since training camp opened.
Here is a look at five positive takeaways from the first two weeks of Packers camp:
- An Increased Emphasis on Special Teams
The Packers have struggled on special teams in recent seasons and the team’s revolving door of special teams coordinators speaks volumes about it.
This year, the Packers brought in Rich Bisaccia to take over that role and he has more than two decades of experience as a special teams coordinator.
While we still aren’t sure of the results just yet, there is clearly an increased emphasis on special teams in training camp this season. Bisaccia is installing pride and runs an organized system in practice that is designed to maximize the impact of the reps.
In addition, it appears the former Raiders interim head coach will have some say over who makes the final roster with their special teams contributions in mind.
The results won’t be known until the season starts, but at least these are reasons for optimism when it comes to special teams and we haven’t been able to say that about the Packers for a long time.
- Zach Tom Is Working with the Starters
With both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins still on the PUP list, the Packers are going to need at least one rookie offensive lineman to step up and contribute until they are ready to return. Thus far, the leading candidate for that title is Zach Tom.
The Packers selected Tom in the fourth round of this year’s draft and the former Wake Forest star has down his versatility, seeing action at both tackle and guard.
He has worked with the first unit frequently and while he has made some mental errors, he has usually done a solid job wherever the coaching staff has had him play.
Keep an eye on Tom during the team’s three preseason games to see how he handles playing against real opponents and in game situations. So far, the rookie looks the part and is on his way to battling for playing time once the season starts next month.
- Jordan Love Is Making Progress
Backup quarterback Jordan Love is entering his third NFL season and his second set of preseason games. The former first-round pick from Utah State has showed progress thus far in training camp which is encouraging for the team.
Love is more decisive, has better footwork and is more accurate on his passes as a result. You can also see his confidence has improved which in turn, makes his teammates more confident in his ability to get the job done.
Obviously, the progress must continue into the preseason where Love will start and get most of the reps. It all starts Friday night in San Francisco which will be the next test for Love.
- The Defense Looks Fast and Fierce
There is no doubt that during the past two weeks of training camp the Packers defense is ahead of the offense. But the encouraging thing is how fast and decisive the defense looks.
The Packers could have seven former first-round picks starting on defense this season and there is more depth and talent here than there has been since the team’s last Super Bowl season in 2010.
The defensive line is now more than just Kenny Clark with the additions of Jarran Reed and Devonte Wyatt. The return of De’Vondre Campbell and the arrival of first round pick Quay Walker give the team the most athletic group of linebackers they’ve had in a long time and it is tough to match the top three cornerbacks and starting safeties that the Packers can put on the field.
The defense is quick, athletic and talented. Now Joe Barry’s group needs to go out and show what it can do in game situations.
- Romeo Doubs Has Been a Pleasant Surprise
The Packers knew it would be difficult to replace the production of Davante Adams and the speed of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and they were hoping one of the three receivers they drafted would step up along with the addition of a hopefully healthy Sammy Watkins.
With second-round pick Christian Watson missing the early part of training camp with an injury suffered at OTAs, it’s been fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs who has really been the talk of Packers camp.
The Nevada alum has a great attitude and is usually the first player in the building every morning. He has been making impressive catches throughout camp and rarely repeats the mistakes he does make.
Doubs has garnered praise from head coach Matt LaFleur, veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb and even the usually hard to please quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
All eyes will be on Doubs as the preseason begins but he has been a huge and pleasant surprise thus far in training camp.
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