The Green Bay Packers have started Week 2 of voluntary OTAs, and the team is back on the field as they continue preparations for the 2023 NFL season.

There are many battles to focus on and while it is unlikely any of them will be settled this week, players who do well at OTAs can get a leg up on the competition in the battle for starting positions, roster spots and just making a favorable impression on the coaching staff.

Here are four battles to watch this week at Packers OTAs:

  1. Running Back

We all know Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon will be the top two backs and should get most of the carries. But there’s still a battle for the third running back spot which according to the coaching staff will depend partially on how the candidates can contribute on special teams. Pass protection will also likely be a factor as picking up blitzes is part of the job description for Packers running backs.

Patrick Taylor is the incumbent at the position and has contributed on special teams, playing 122 snaps there. He gained 31 yards on 10 carries and caught one pass for 17 yards in 2022.

Last year, Taylor beat out Tyler Goodson who is back after spending last season on the practice squad. The former Iowa star was a more effective runner in preseason last year, but Taylor beat him out because of special teams and pass blocking. Goodson hopes to show improvement in those areas this year starting at OTAs.

Rookie Lew Nichols is also in the mix. The seventh-round pick out of Central Michigan is strong and can run the football but needs to prove what he can do without the ball to have a good chance to make the roster.

The Packers also signed UFA Emanuel Wilson last week. The Fort Valley State alum gained 1,371 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in 2022 and looks to prove he can continue his career in the NFL.

  1. Safety

We know Darnell Savage is the likely starter at one safety spot but there are many players fighting for the other starting spot and the backup spots on the roster. Rudy Ford has the top spot on the depth chart as of now, but he’ll get plenty of competition from the recently signed Jonathan Owens, Tarvarius Moore and rookie Anthony Johnson, Jr. among the top candidates.

There is a starting position up for grabs here and depth positions as well. The Packers signed a lot of players to compete at safety, but none are truly proven to be established starters in the NFL. Many of the other safeties on the roster are there more for their abilities on special teams.

  1. Tight End

The Packers are counting on two rookies to play major roles at the tight end position. In the second round, the Packers added Luke Musgrave while selecting Tucker Kraft in the third round. They are competing to take over as the team’s primary pass catching tight end after the departure of Robert Tonyan via free agency.

Which player blocks better may make a difference as to who gets more playing time early. The other key will be how quickly they pick up the playbook and become reliable route runners for new starting quarterback Jordan Love.

Josiah Deguara is likely to continue to be the H-back/Fullback while Tyler Davis contributes mostly on special teams. Austin Allen and Cameron McDonald are also battling for roster spots.

  1. Slot Cornerback

With Eric Stokes still rehabbing his knee and foot injuries, the Packers have an opening for the third cornerback slot. Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas will be the starters, but the slot corner position is up for grabs.

Keisean Nixon is the frontrunner for the job, but he will have competition from Shemar Jean-Charles, who needs to prove he is ready to take on a bigger role on defense along with Corey Ballentine, Kiondre Thomas and rookie Carrington Valentine.

Some safeties may also compete for the “star” position this year.

The Packers will need somebody to step up and claim the slot corner position which will be vital to the success of the defense this season.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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