6 positional battles worth monitoring during Packers preseason opener vs. 49ers

The Green Bay Packers will open the preseason on Friday night in San Francisco. While “select” veterans won’t play, the first football game of the 2022 season for Matt LaFleur’s team should provide an excellent opportunity for fringe roster players to start separating themselves within various position battles.

The Packers need these preseason games to figure out who will be filling out the depth chart at important positions.

Here’s a closer look at the positional battles worth monitoring on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium:

No. 3 running back

Green Bay Packers’ Patrick Taylor runs a drill at the NFL football team’s practice field Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Who’s competing: Patrick Taylor (No. 27), BJ Baylor (No. 35), Tyler Goodson (No. 39), Dexter Williams (No. 34)

Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon won’t play, and Kylin Hill (knee) remains on the PUP list, leaving four players to handle all the carries in San Francisco. Taylor, the front runner to be the No. 3 back, is coming off a groin injury and could be limited. Can one of the undrafted rookies step up and flash in a game environment? It’s so tough to evaluate running backs in a practice setting, making the games so much more important for figuring out this roster battle. Don’t sleep on Williams, who is getting a second chance in Green Bay and is as talented as any runner on the roster after the two starters.

Wide receiver, No. 4-7

Samantha Madar/USA TODAY

Who’s competing: Romeo Doubs, Juwann Winfree, Amari Rodgers, Samori Toure, Danny Davis, Ishmael Hyman

The vets (Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins) aren’t expected to play, and Malik Taylor (shoulder) isn’t ready for contact, likely leaving these six at wide receiver for Friday night. Doubs, the unexpected star of camp, is the obvious one to watch, especially as he builds his case to start Week 1, but his roster spot is secure. What can Winfree, Rodgers and Toure do in terms of catching the ball and impressing on special teams? Davis and Hyman are long shots to make the team, but they are competing for practice squad spots. This is a big spot for Toure, who impressed during Family Night and needs to keep pushing to make the roster as a seventh-round pick.

Tight end

Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

Who’s competing: Tyler Davis (No. 84), Dominique Dafney (No. 49), Sal Cannella (No. 80), Alize Mack (No. 47)

As long as Robert Tonyan is on the PUP list, an extra roster spot is probably available here. Davis and Dafney are the obvious front runners, but Cannella and Mack can push for a spot with a strong performance during the games.

Offensive tackle

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Who’s competing: Yosh Nijman, Royce Newman, Zach Tom, Cole Van Lanen

While the Packers wait on David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins to return from the PUP list, LaFleur, Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus keep experimenting with various offensive line groups and offensive tackle combos. Expect Nijman to start at left tackle, while Newman and Tom rotate on the right side. Van Lanen is also getting snaps on both sides of the line. The Packers need the tackle situation to start sorting itself out because the offensive line as a whole hasn’t been good enough to start training camp. LaFleur said the starting offensive line – including center Josh Myers and left guard Jon Runyan Jr. – will play Friday night.

Outside linebacker, No. 3-5

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Who’s competing: Jonathan Garvin (No. 53), Tipa Galeai (No. 40), Ladarius Hamilton (No. 54)

Randy Ramsey is fighting through the lingering effects of an ankle injury, so these three look like the best bets at edge rusher. Who is going to emerge as legitimate backups behind Rashan Gary and Preston Smith? Garvin and Hamilton are starting to come on as of late. The Packers need to see one or two of these guys set a strong edge and create disruption in the pocket during the preseason.

Safety, No. 3

Who’s competing: Vernon Scott (No. 36), Shawn Davis (No. 30), Dallin Leavitt (No. 6), Innis Gaines (No. 38)

An important role is up for grabs behind starters Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. Scott and Davis look improved this summer and both keep jockeying for the third spot. Gaines is playing all over the defensive backfield and needs to show more on special teams. Leavitt’s value is on special teams,  The games will determine the depth chart here.


Cornerback: Can someone – like Rico Gafford, Kabion Ento or Kiondre Thomas – start pushing Keisean Nixon and Shemar Jean-Charles for backup jobs?

Right guard: Jake Hanson and Sean Rhyan will both be worth watching at this spot during preseason games.

Backup center: Keep an eye on who is snapping the ball to Jordan Love on Friday night. The Packers need a go-to backup behind Josh Myers.

Inside linebacker: Krys Barnes and Isaiah McDuffie look solid as the second-team backers. Ty Summers and Ray Wilborn have to turn it up during these games.

Long snapper: Jack Coco is the lone snapper left on the roster, but he’s competing against all the available snappers still out there. He needs to start showing some consistency.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire