6 position battles to monitor during Packers preseason opener – Packers Wire

The preseason opener for the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night should provide an ideal stage for several different positional roster battles to play out in a live game environment, especially with so many veterans expected to sit out.

Here’s a closer look at six battles worth monitoring during the Packers’ first preseason game of 2021:

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Green Bay Packers running back Kylin Hill (32) runs the ball against cornerback Kabion Ento (48) during Packers Family Night at Lambeau Field, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

It’s time to find a third running back. Practices are great, but evaluating the run game during training camp is almost impossible. Preseason is the stage for running backs to shine. Here’s the challenge for Dexter Williams, Patrick Taylor and Kylin Hill on Saturday night: hit the right holes, make the unblocked defender miss, be a safety valve in the passing game and keep the quarterback protected in the pocket. The one that does it all the best is going to make the roster. For Taylor and Hill, additional opportunities should be available in the return game.

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Aug 11, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (6) and wide receiver Malik Taylor (86) participate in training camp Wednesday, August 11, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY NETWORK

The status of Devin Funchess, Equanimeous St. Brown and Juwann Winfree is unknown, but all three are dealing with injuries. While the Packers would love to see all three play on Saturday night, their absences could open the door to others in the competition at receiver. This includes Malik Taylor, Reggie Begelton, DeAndre Thompkins and Chris Blair. The final three need to make up ground now if they want a shot at making the roster. Also, rookie Amari Rodgers should get a chance to get his feet wet in his NFL debut.

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July 29, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers offensive guard Royce Newman (70) and tackle Dennis Kelly (69) participate in training camp Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY NETWORK

As many as eight or nine roster spots along the offensive line might already be penciled in at this point, but this is still a highly competitive position group entering the preseason. The starter at both guard positions must be determined, and backup spots – including at offensive tackle – remain undecided. These exhibition games will be important to players like Ben Braden, Jon Runyan, Lucas Patrick, Yosh Nijman, Royce Newman and Cole Van Lanen, among others.

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Green Bay Packers linebacker Tipa Galeai (50) is shown during the second day of organized team activities Tuesday, May 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

Losing Randy Ramsey to an ankle injury was a setback for a position group that needs depth and more contributions on special teams. With Ramsey out, and the top three edge rushers unlikely to play Saturday night, the Packers should get a long look at Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin, Delontae Scott and Chauncey Rivers, who now all have a legitimate chance at making the 53-man roster. The winner here will likely provide the best combination of pass-rushing ability and special teams versatility. Edge rushers are often a coveted body type for covering kicks and punts.

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Green Bay Packers tight end Isaac Nauta (82) runs the ball against cornerback Ka’dar Hollman (29) during Packers Family Night at Lambeau Field, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The top four spots look like locks, but the Packers will keep at least five cornerbacks and could keep six or more based on the construction of the roster. Rookie Shemar Jean-Charles, recent draft picks Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman, and holdover undrafted free agents Kabion Ento and Stanford Samuels will all be competing for what could be one or two spots. It’s a fascinating mix of players, all at different stages of their careers. The Texans have a veteran group of receivers, which should provide a strong test for the corners competing to make the final roster in Green Bay.

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Safety Innis Gaines (38) Is shown during the first day of Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp Friday, May 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.

This is another fascinating battle. With Will Redmond out injured, a young group of players including Vernon Scott, Henry Black, Innis Gaines and Christian Uphoff have been competing for roster spots behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. All four are athletic and versatile options. Which one can fly around the field and make plays on Saturday night? And which one can win spots on one or more special teams groups? These four young safeties have a terrific opportunity against the Texans.