Position-by-Position Training Camp Battles for 2020 - Offense

One matchup from each position on offense to keep an eye on entering training camp and the preseason. 

I thought before training camp begins it would be interesting to go through each position and highlight what I would consider to be a matchup to watch. Matchups might take different forms, whether players are battling for a roster spot, playing time, or a place on the depth chart. This isn’t to say that every battle on this list will come down to one player or the other, because that’s not true. Both players, or maybe neither in some cases, could make the roster. These are simply battles I’ll be paying extra attention to come training camp. Today, we’ll get started with the offense. 

Quarterback - Jordan Love vs Tim Boyle

This one has to be the most obvious on the list, right? We know Jordan Love is making this Packers roster, but I’m still firmly of the mindset that Tim Boyle does, too. Depending on what happens with the preseason and how much practice time Love gets, Boyle offers insurance on the roster should Rodgers go down. He’s already familiar with LaFleur’s system and is worth developing further. There’s no doubt the goal is for Love to be that trusted backup as soon as possible, with the inevitable goal that he becomes the successor at the position, but after only one virtual offseason and condensed preseason, it feels unlikely he’s immediately given the QB2 role. 

Running Back - Tyler Ervin vs Dexter Williams

I love Tyler Ervin and what he brings to the Packers backfield. Not only has he provided a spark on special teams as a return man, but he’s got the speed and quickness to carve out a role for himself in LaFleur’s offense. Dexter Williams struggled in 2019, and while he was on the active roster for the entire season, he only had five rushing attempts for 11 yards. The Packers like his upside and even opted to keep him on the 53 going into the season when some speculated that Tra Carson would earn the final spot in the running backs room, but he may now find himself on the roster bubble as the odd man looking in with the addition of second-round draft pick A.J. Dillon. If Williams lights up training camp, it’s possible the Packers move on from Ervin and give return duties to someone else, but right now this feels like Ervin’s spot to lose. 

Wide Receiver - Reggie Begelton vs Jake Kumerow

I toyed with a few different camp battles here, whether it’s for WR2 or between Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown as two draft picks from the 2018 class, but instead I went a different route. To me, Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Devin Funchess, MVS, and EQ feel like pretty sure things as the five receivers on the roster. If a sixth is kept, I think the battle comes down to veteran Jake Kumerow and Canadian Football League stud Reggie Begelton. Kumerow always has a strong preseason and training camp, and he’s been praised by quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty, but the Packers likely already know what they have in him. At 28, Kumerow is the oldest receiver in the room. He’s had his opportunities and looked good in limited reps, but he’s certainly not a roster lock heading into this season. Begelton, though still 26, could potentially carve a role for himself as the team’s slot receiver. With the Calgary Stampeders in 2019, Begelton had 1,444 yards and 10 touchdowns on 102 receptions. 

Tight End - Robert Tonyan vs Josiah Deguara

We know Jace Sternberger is TE1 going into this year. Veteran Marcedes Lewis returns for another season, with his primary function still as a run-blocker on offense. As a third round pick, Josiah Deguara is a roster lock, but Robert Tonyan likely is, too, and seeing who begins the season where on the depth chart will be interesting. Tonyan will be entering his third season with the Packers, and while he’s only hauled in one touchdown in each of his first two seasons, his playing time has increased from just 6% of offensive snaps in 2018 to 18% in 2019. Jimmy Graham played 58% of snaps in 2019, so there are plenty of opportunities to go around, and both Deguara and Tonyan could even see the field together in certain personnel groupings in 2020. Tight ends typically take a little longer to acclimate in the NFL, which could put Tonyan ahead of Deguara on the depth chart early, but both men have different body types and should serve different roles on offense. To me, tight end is one of the most solidified positions on the roster heading into camp. (I’m still pulling for James Looney, though!)

Offensive Line - Lane Taylor vs Billy Turner vs Rick Wagner

Okay. This was hard, and this could’ve gone in 50 different directions. Backup swing tackle is up for grabs. Lucas Patrick will be fighting off Jon Runyan Jr. for backup duties along the interior of the offensive line. Cole Madison returns from injury for another shot at the 53. Instead, I want to see what happens with Lane Taylor. We know he restructured his contract in order to stay in Green Bay, but it’s not a given he’s hanging around solely as an insurance policy. Taylor can play, and look for him to pressure both Billy Turner and Rick Wagner in camp. Taylor has tackle experience, but the most likely scenario at this point is to move Turner to right tackle and sneak Taylor in at right guard. Wagner would then become the backup swing tackle for a year, similar to Jared Veldheer in 2019, while a young tackle like Yosh Nijman develops on the roster behind him. 

What camp battle are you most looking forward to seeing on offense? Which positions are most up in the air? Drop your matchups in the comments, and check back on Tuesday for the position-by-position training camp battles on the defensive side of the ball. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (19)

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stockholder's picture

June 19, 2020 at 06:55 am

QB- No Battle here. Love is the future. Boyle is done as a packer. The third QB will be on the PS. RB- Dillion is the 3rd back now. By default, Ervin. In Truth- I see Deguara and Dillion as FB "options". 4 Rbs. And the reserve will be on the PS. WRs- I see 6 wrs again. Adams ,MVS, Funchess, Lazard, st Brown, and a pick up coming to bump Kumerow off. TE- I believe the packers keep 4 TEs. Sternberger, Tonyan, DeGuara, and of course Lewis. OL- Will be the biggest Battle on the team. 10 players here. Yes 10! Leaving the offense at 26 players.

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nostradanus's picture

June 19, 2020 at 07:46 am

Interesting battles on Offense indeed, the Packers have quietly improved on Offense this off-season (with the exception of Right Tackle) but I also believe the biggest improvement will come from having mostly the same players who now are very indoctrinated into the MLF offense in the second season.

1. QB - I think they will keep three, there just isn’t enough time to get Love up to speed and Boyle knows the offense inside and out. One exception would be if another team comes calling with a mid round draft choice for Boyle.

2. RB - I have watched 3 late season games from last season and Ervin was being incorporated into the offense quite a bit in those games. He is an excellent return man also as we all know. Dex was in the dog house and maybe hangs around on the practice squad.

3. TE - Tonyan is more of a move TE where Degura will play more of an H- back roll.
They are Different players and they will split snaps three ways with Sternberger, Lewis of course is basically an extra OL and a good one at that.

4. WR - as much as most of us have been in Kumerow‘a corner, he just hasn’t been much of a factor when given the chance. I believe Begelton makes it based on his upside.

5. OL - Taylor is a great value at his reduced contract and an excellent veteran backup. I don’t believe they move Turner to tackle because it is not his best spot and then you are moving two positions instead of one. If healthy Wagner can get the job done with a guy like Runyan as his apprentice for a season. Plus Wagner is a Wisconsin kid so I would love to see him succeed!

Go Bucky! Go Pack!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 19, 2020 at 12:23 pm

1. QB - this depends on how much risk and on how Love looks in practice. If GB wants at least the option to give Love a redshirt year (not destroy his confidence, etc.), then GB will keep 3 QBs, with Boyle having a good shot to make the team. Boyle knows the offense, but there are more journeymen QBs out there than usual.

2. RB - I don't think Ervin is in competition with anyone for a roster spot. He fills a PR and gadget role that no one else has the skillset for, certainly not Dexter. I place almost zero stock in the ongoing contract talks between GB and Aaron Jones. Jamaal Williams likely will remain cheap enough to be a viable #2 or #3 RB in 2021. Dexter has to beat out Jamaal, and it depends on what 2021 looks like to Gute.

3. TE - I think the only battle is between Baylis and Tonyan. Jace is the complete TE. Deguara is the H-back but he probably can't play inline at all. Lewis and Baylis are the blocking TEs. Jace, Deguara, and most likely Lewis are making this team. GB might keep four, and that leaves Tonyan and Baylis.

5. OL - this needs its own stand-alone article.

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Guam's picture

June 19, 2020 at 07:50 am

WR: I don't think the Packers keep more than 5 WRs and the only real locks are Adams and Funchess. Lazard, MVS, EQ, Begelton and Kumerow are fighting for three spots.

TE: I just don't get the love for Tonyan. He has done little in his two years with the Packers and at this stage of his career I don't see a jump coming. I think he is gone.

OL: I have no idea..... The Packers have a ton of interior OL and I have no idea who will win those battles. The Packers do need to find a reserve tackle however and Alex Light is not the answer. Hopefully Josh Nijman starts to fulfill his promise or Runyon is capable of playing RT. Not sure I want to see either Turner or Taylor at RT.

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Handsback's picture

June 19, 2020 at 09:02 am

I think the big uglies will be the most interesting competitions. Green Bay has some good potential prospects for both lines and this year will be fun to see the vets verses youth.
Good article!

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

June 19, 2020 at 09:14 am

Obviously the intended long-term option at QB is Love, but I think they will keep Boyle around for at least another year. Love is rough and most likely will need at least his first pro-season for devloping around and being familiarized with the Packers system. If Rodgers goes down for the season (God forbid) Love is nowhere near ready to assume QB1 position. Boyle is the safety net, and it wouldn't be a good idea to remove the safety net when your future star is still learning the ropes (pun intended).

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Coldworld's picture

June 19, 2020 at 09:51 am

RB: I think Ervin makes the team unless they find a hidden returning talent out of nowhere among the new intake. Given the truncated preseason, that unlikely outcome seems even less probable given the need to have confidence.

Dexter Williams will face a challenge, but that is more likely to come from Taylor.

WR: This assumes we are injury free, but I think it is clear that MVS will make the roster from comments and his unique speed. I can’t see EQ being dispensed with. Do we keep 6? I see no way Kumerow makes a healthy team. His chance was last year, he is a really good not-quite-good-enough receiver. The exception could be an injury to Funchess or Lazard, since Kumerow can block.

Bagelton could force his way on to the roster. He is the wild card. Other than blocking a good showing in preseason could well have him as the next man up.

One factor is the slot. Bagelton doesn’t have the characteristics of a classic slot and hasn’t done his damage there in the CFL. But can Jones or Ervin fill the quick twitch option? If so, 5 receivers is likely the max unless Funchess is Sternberger’s back up. If they can’t, does the team feel the need for it and is EQ able to grab it? If not, Shepherd and Stewart might have a shout. Shepherd was truly impressive last preseason, which is forgotten after his in season freeze.

TE: No, Tonyan must show he can stay healthy and block at least adequately to justify the number two TE spot behind Sternberger. Deguara must acclimate to being an NFL HBack. What would be great is that if Tonyan really shows or Funchess is seen as a capable alternate, Sternberger could cover that role in emergencies. If not, 2 Hback types is not out of the question, but Tonyan and Deguara are not in direct competition.

Tonyan probably is up against Funchess to prove that he is a better source of depth than, say, Bagelton and moving Funchess. If, QB works out as I suggest below, the Funchess move option has roster number advantages.

QB: I think it is increasingly likely that Boyle starts out as the number 2. Especially if we have a two game preseason. Simply no way Love will be ready and little point in drafting to develop and then throwing in if Rodgers gets hurt early. Boyle will be there to protect the investment.

OT: I do think Taylor will push Turner, I don’t see Wagner not starting out at RT absent a surprising leap from a young player or injury. That said, the truncated off season makes the required level of confidence unlikely to be reached. Patrick will be depth at guard and center and watch out for Leglue as swing tackle.

To me, the more interesting battles will be on the other side. At DL Clark, the rushers: Z, P and Gary, then who and how many? I think a beefed up KeKe will be there, but some interesting battles behind. I will be looking at the back up ILBs and Hybrid candidates as the most open. I have a feeling that the roster make up behind ILB 1, Martin the draft pick and Greene and in front of Amos, Savage and probably Redmond as true safeties and CBs King, Alexander and Sullivan will be very interesting. Summers is probably close just on special teams, but nothing is certain I think.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 19, 2020 at 10:46 am

QB: Boyle has no future here. If you want to keep a #3, keep a vet who can mentor Love.

OL: We did not give Turner and Wagner millions to sit behind Taylor. We did not give Patrick a new deal to cut him. Taylor and Patrick are our sixth and seventh guys. I’d wager a cold Pabst that Light is #8.

Leglue is currently our backup LT.. He’s an interesting guy and I think he’ll stick. We’ll probably keep Runyan and one other guy on the practice squad. I think the Cole Madison era might be over.

TE: Lewis, Sternberger, Deguara, Looney. The notion that we drafted a guy in the third round to compete with a guy who has 14 catches in two seasons doesn’t merit serious consideration.

RB: Jones, Dillon, Williams, Ervin. It’s hard to believe that Dexter is going to be gone after one year, but that’s the way it looks right now.

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dobber's picture

June 19, 2020 at 11:14 am

The Cole Madison era never started.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 19, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Lucas Patrick has $233K in dead money with $1.04M in cap savings. If anyone looks better (unless GB thinks Patrick might still have upside), the Packers would move on from Patrick in a heartbeat.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 19, 2020 at 01:08 pm

So the GM signed Patrick to a two year deal in December just so he could cut him before the next season? Gave him a 350k bonus just for grins?

No. The GM clearly sees Patrick as a player on the 53 in 2020.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 20, 2020 at 03:28 pm

He's a bad GM if he lets his own ego and saving face enter into roster decisions.

The five starters are locks, and Lane Taylor is an excellent bet. GB probably keeps 9. Patrick's best route is as the backup center, which presupposes that GB would not want to move Jenkins to OC. If they don't, then Patrick only has to beat out Hanson and any UDFA who might be able to play OC.

Lucas Patrick can't run block. I know of some posters who think GB is going to run more in 2020. I think Patrick is terrible. PFF thinks he is terrible (48 grade despite being decent as a pass protector). McGinn thinks he can't run block. SIS Datahub thinks he can't run block. He has 3 accrued seasons but just 642 snaps in the NFL. Maybe Gute thinks he still has upside. There is a non-zero chance that he does.

Patrick might make the roster if the team busts at finding a replacement backup OC.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 20, 2020 at 04:50 pm

If he’s so terrible, why did the GM sign him to a two year deal with guaranteed money?

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 20, 2020 at 05:36 pm

Patrick has moxy and finishes plays to the end of the whistle. The other stiffs will compete against Runyan for the backup RT.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 19, 2020 at 09:07 pm

so you're saying that Leglue might stick around?

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splitpea1's picture

June 19, 2020 at 11:24 am

No, no, no, we are not going to be moving on from Ervin. Given the struggles we've had finding a good return man in recent seasons, it's imperative that we keep him. Special teams are important! Call me paranoid, but I'm almost afraid to use him in any other role for fear that he may get injured. That's not practical, though. But as we've seen, you can't just stick anybody back there and hope they're going to be golden.

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Slim11's picture

June 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm

At WR, I am not sold on MVS or Kumerow. EQ stays because of the injury last season and the improvement he showed over the last half of 2018. Funchess was signed to help relieve some pressure on Adams as the #1 WR. Lazard will have to take a major step backwards(!) to lose his spot in the WR rotation. Begelton will be kept over Kumerow unless he fails to grasp the offense or fails to make the adjustment back to the smaller playing field. If someone says MVS' potential is based upon speed, remember Jeff Janis. At least he was a good ST contributor. MVS doesn't seem as productive on ST.

On the right side of the o-line, moving Turner doesn't make sense. Taylor has played outside at LT and was serviceable. Is he a better solution than Wagner? Maybe...maybe not.

At TE, much is being made of Deguara's capabilities at H-back. Okay, but he's still a TE. Funchess could be a depth piece at TE in an emergency. Sternberger can be lined as a WR so there is some flexibility within the WR/TE group. That said, Lewis, Sternberger and Deguara make the roster at TE and Adams, Funchess, Lazard, EQ and Begelton at WR. Does this mean the Packers keep nine total? If so, who stays...Kumerow as a #6 WR or Tonyan as a #4 TE? With Tyler Ervin being kept as a return specialist and "Swiss Army knife" type on offense, I'd bet on Tonyan as a #4 TE.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 19, 2020 at 04:04 pm

Let’s tap the brakes on the Begelton at WR bandwagon. I want to wait until the preseason (if we have one) to properly assess his play. He has yet to take one snap in the NFL.
But I am pulling for Looney ;-)

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Dzehren's picture

June 19, 2020 at 08:17 pm

WR is going to be a problem. Apparently MLF is going to run 3 WR sets. The only problem is GB has many question marks at TE.

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