The Green Bay Packers completed a three-day minicamp last week and will finish up the offseason workout program this week with a final session of OTAs.
With information gathered during the offseason, here’s a best guess at the starters for the Packers offense when the 2022 season opens:
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Starter: Aaron Rodgers
Key backup: Jordan Love
Not much needs to be said about the pecking order here. Still, it’s a great situation: A first-round pick entering Year 3 will back up the back-to-back NFL MVP.
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Starter: Aaron Jones
Key backup: A.J. Dillon
Designating a true starter here doesn’t seem necessary because both Jones and Dillon are going to be playing a lot of snaps and seeing a lot of the football in 2022. Without Davante Adams around, the offense may become even more running back-centered, and that’s a good thing because Jones and Dillon are one of the best tandems in football. Expect more out of both in the passing game. Over 500 touches between the two is certainly possible, if not likely. Dillon’s ability to handle a significant workload as a runner may open up more possibilities for Jones as a receiver.
Sammy Watkins (11)
Starters: Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins
Key backups: Christian Watson, Amari Rodgers, Romeo Doubs
The Packers really like Watkins, who has played in 99 NFL games, and rookies often take time to get acclimated, especially to playing with Aaron Rodgers, so having the three veterans as Week 1 starters is probably the most likely scenario. This isn’t to deny Watson’s talent and potential to win a starting job during training camp; his size, speed and versatility give him a valuable profile in Matt LaFleur’s offense. Rodgers is expected to make a Year 2 jump, while Doubs is a polished rookie who is likely physically ready to play right away. The guess here is that the distribution of receiver snaps in Week 1 will change drastically by Week 18. Watkins and Cobb both have extensive injury histories, so the Packers need all their top backups ready to play.
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Starter: Marcedes Lewis
Key backups: Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara
Injury: Robert Tonyan
Lewis is back for another go as the team’s in-line, run-blocking tight end, and Tonyan’s injury means Big Dog will be on the field a lot with the likes of Deguara, Davis and Dominique Dafney early in the season. The Packers may need to get creative to produce pass-game production from this position until Tonyan is back. Davis could play the Tonyan role early in the season with Deguara and Dafney playing snaps at the hybrid H-back spot.
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Left tackle: David Bakhtiari
Left guard: Jon Runyan
Center: Josh Myers
Right guard: Royce Newman
Right tackle: Yosh Nijman
Key backups: Sean Rhyan, Jake Hanson, Cole Van Lanen, Zach Tom
Injury: Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins
Going out on a limb here and guessing Bakhtiari, who will be almost 20 months post-injury by the start of training camp, is finally healthy and ready to go by Week 1. It’s an increasingly shaky prediction. By design, he was in the rehab group throughout the offseason workout program. Everyone in Green Bay keeps saying “hopefully” in terms of his return by camp, creating a worrisome proposition. The Packers could have one of the best sets of bookend tackles once Bakhtiari and Jenkins are healthy and on the field together. If Bakhtiari isn’t ready, Nijman is the likely backup. Long-term, the best positional battle is probably at right guard. Can Newman hold off the rookies? So much of this position group is dependent on the health of Bakhtiari, so training camp will be clarifying on multiple fronts. A veteran addition at tackle – a Brian Gutekunst staple – is still possible. The Packers are terrific at mixing and matching along the offensive line, so the pieces could move around a lot this summer.