As the Green Bay Packers training camp begins to heat up, it’s becoming more apparent where the interesting positional battles are going to take place, and in some cases, they aren’t where we thought they would take place.
Since the Packers have put their pads on, some players who performed well in OTAs have fallen back. Others have continued to show improvement. The first positional battle we’ll take a look at is tight end.
Coming into training camp, Donald Lee was the Packers clear No. 1 tight end. After a breakout season in 2007, in which he recorded 48 receptions, 575 yards and 6 touchdowns, Lee’s production dropped off in 2008 (39, 303, 5). While the rest of the tight ends on the roster didn’t look like they had enough talent or intelligence to unseat Lee, that picture seems to be rapidly changing.
Remember Jermichael Finley? He’s the Packers’ 2008 third-round pick who would get inserted into the game, drop a ball that hit him in the hands and then blame Aaron Rodgers for it. Well, it looks like that idiot grew up and brought his A game to camp. Finley has improved as a blocker and is making the sort of explosive plays in the passing game he did at Texas.
The latter is something the Packers knew Finley was capable of once he got his head screwed on straight, but his improvement as a blocker is what ultimately will make Finley an NFL starter. In recent days, I’ve noted several tweets, blurbs, etc., mentioning Finley blowing A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop or another linebacker backwards.
While there hasn’t been a change at the top of the depth chart yet, Rodgers seems to be developing a repoire with Finley that he didn’t have with Lee last season. At the very least, the Packers could have a somewhat less talented version of the Mark Chmura/Keith Jackson tandem they had in the Super Bowl years, although it’s more likely that Finley will end up starting at some point.
Total Packers Prediction: Lee opens the season as the starter, but Finley finishes it No. 1.