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Like all teams, the Green Bay Packers will be banking on young players to come back from the offseason workout program and impress coaches and teammates enough during training camp to win open jobs on offense or defense.
Here are the young players capable of earning new, important roles during Packers training camp later this summer:
RB A.J. Dillon
Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon (28) participates in minicamp practice Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.
An obvious one to start. Dillon, a second-round pick from a year ago, will almost certainly assume the role of the complementary running back behind Pro Bowler Aaron Jones during training camp. It is an important role in the Packers offense. Gone is Jamaal Williams, who handled around 150 touches each of the last two seasons as the No. 2 back. Dillon might not have as diverse a skill set as Williams, but he's a bruising runner and the Packers think he has real potential in the passing game. With a full season, Dillon is probably a lock for around 400 snaps and 150 touches. And any injury to Jones would make him an immediate starter, and possibly a workhorse at the position. Dillon needs a strong summer to build momentum going into Year 2.
OL Jon Runyan
Green Bay Packers offensive guard Jon Runyan (76) is shown during the second day of organized team activities Tuesday, May 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.
The Packers would have to do some shuffling along the offensive line if All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (ACL) isn't ready to start the season. Bakhtiari's expected absence during training camp will open up a great opportunity for a young player like Runyan to earn a Week 1 starting job. A valuable backup as a rookie last season, Runyan showed he can handle playing both left and right guard, likely allowing the Packers to use Elgton Jenkins at left or right tackle or even Lucas Patrick at center, depending on how Matt LaFleur wants the starting five to look. Don't be surprised if Runyan exits training camp as a favorite to start somewhere along the offensive line. At the very least, he'll be a versatile backup.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Amari Rodgers participates in organized team activities Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.
The Packers' third-round pick has a chance to be the team's go-to gadget/slot player on offense and the primary returner on special teams. It's an important dual role that could get Rodgers on the field for a lot of snaps as a rookie. He's probably the best fit on the roster at both spots, but the Packers will want to see him earn the roles during camp and the preseason. Brandon Carwile of Packers Wire highlighted all the ways the Packers could get Rodgers touches during 2021. Can he get over the rookie learning curve during camp and be an instant impact player?
C Josh Myers
Offensive lineman Josh Myers (71) is shown during the second day of Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp Saturday, May 15, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.
Myers, a second-round pick in 2021, will likely go into training camp as the favorite to replace Corey Linsley at center. Talk about an important role. Not only will the rookie touch the ball on every snap and be the pre-snap sidekick for whoever is playing quarterback, but taking over for an experienced and consistent player like Linsley only adds to the pressure. And Linsley, an All-Pro in 2020, just had his best season, anchoring a terrific Packers offensive line. Myers started for two seasons at Ohio State and played in a lot of big games, and the Packers love his combination of size and intelligence, but he needs to learn a lot of information and get physically ready for the NFL during a short period of time during camp.
TE Josiah Deguara
Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Deguara missed a big chunk of his rookie season after tearing his ACL in October, but the Packers still provided an early preview of how he could be used as the primary H-back in the Matt LaFleur offense. In Week 1, Deguara lined up all over the formation, including inline, in the slot and in the backfield. The H-back role could be a role worth 20-25 snaps a game in Green Bay this season. Deguara, with the right combination of athleticism, receiving abiltiy and on-the-move blocking prowess, is the likely favorite. The Packers will likely take it slow during camp as his knee recovers, but Deguara could easily emerge as an important player in the scheme to start 2021.
LBs Kamal Martin/Krys Barnes
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
The Packers signed De'Vondre Campbell, providing size and experience and a likely starter at linebacker in 2021. Campbell's arrival still leaves open room for one more important role at the position group, and Barnes and Martin are the heavy favorites entering camp. Barnes ended his rookie season as the No. 1 linebacker, while Martin looked destined for a starting role during training camp before suffering a significant knee injury. Both flashes playmaking ability. Both need more experience and consistency. Training camp is a great place for the two linebackers to get the important reps in Joe Barry's new scheme. One – or possibly both – will emerge as a starter at linebacker to start the season.
CB Eric Stokes
Cornerback Eric Stokes (21) is shown during the first day of Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.
Even with all three starters returning at cornerback, it would be foolish to rule out Stokes – the team's first-round pick – from competing for snaps right away at training camp. He has elite speed, and the Packers think he possesses the skill set to play inside or on the perimeter. Joe Barry has the opportunity to take it slow with Stokes, who needs to play with better control at the NFL level, but if the rookie is terrific this summer, the Packers will find ways of being creative and getting him on the field. Good players at premium positions often play early, and average starters such as Kevin King or Chandon Sullivan shouldn't prevent the Packers from getting their best cover players on the field. Stokes has to prove he's ready for primetime during camp.