The Green Bay Packers’ mandatory minicamp begins this week. It’s an official flip of the page to the 2021 season. Here are five things to watch for as they get underway.
The Green Bay Packers start their mandatory minicamp this week. Depending on how the week goes, it could be a week that allows them to move on from all the offseason drama.
Regardless of what happens, the mandatory minicamp is a turning of the page with a majority of the players expected to be in attendance.
Let’s take a look at the five things to watch for as Camp gets underway.
Where’s Waldo? (Aaron)
In case you’ve lived under a rock since draft day, there has been some drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers did not show up to voluntary OTA’s for the first time in his career. It seems unlikely that he will be showing up to the team’s mandatory minicamp as well.
Rodgers could end all the speculation and drama of this offseason by reporting to camp, but at this stage that appears unlikely. It remains notable, however, that there has not been a trade demand. That goes all the way back to the original report by Adam Schefter.
The likely scenario is that Rodgers is posturing for a contract that guarantees that Rodgers, to use Mark Murphy’s words, remains the quarterback in 2021 and beyond.
For this week? The smart money is on Rodgers skipping out and a contract being announced sometime between now and training camp. If you want to keep yourself from having a headache, my advice is to ignore the noise.
If and when Rodgers doesn’t show up, the show must go on as Adrian Amos said a week ago. That will mean a lot of reps for the Packers’ first-round pick a season ago, Jordan Love.
Love is potentially the heir apparent to the throne that currently belongs to Aaron Rodgers. Depending on when a new contract is completed it remains to be seen.
That said, in the unlikely event that Rodgers is traded or retires, Love is the likely successor.
He’ll get his opportunities this week with the starting offense. He’ll get on-field reps that he did not get a season ago.
Perhaps most importantly, he’ll get the in-person coaching he missed out on a year ago. Outside of Rodgers, this is far and away the biggest storyline heading into minicamp.
The Wide Receiver Room
Aside from Aaron Rodgers, the other notable absence from the team’s voluntary OTA practices were the wide receivers. Was it a boycott? Was it done in solidarity with Aaron Rodgers?
The answer is probably not. That said it was noteworthy considering again, like Rodgers, those players were almost always at voluntary practices.
This week, however, it looks like most if not all of those players will be in attendance. That will give the fans their first look at how the group fits together for the 2021 season. Where does Amari Rodgers take his snaps? How does Devin Funchess look?
These are all questions that we’ll have at least a glimpse into after this week.
Stokesing The Fire
Once the Packers lost the NFC Championship Game, just about everyone agreed that cornerback was their biggest need.
There was a strange shift right before the draft that the Packers needed to draft a receiver in the first round.
Despite the graphics and the quarterback being turned into a martyr, including one pundit calling the Packers’ first-round selection an “Act of war”
It wasn’t that. It was addressing the team’s biggest need. A position that arguably cost the Packers a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
That player was Eric Stokes out of Georgia.
Stokes’ raw talent and speed is an enticing addition to this secondary. When you play opposite Jaire Alexander, you can expect plenty of work to come your way.
Kevin King enters the season as the likely starter at the position, but that could be subject to change. King is back on a 1-year stopgap type of deal.
If Stokes proves up to the task early, he could displace King from the starting lineup earlier than anticipated.
New Man in charge
Had it not been for the Aaron Rodgers drama, the biggest storyline coming into the preseason would have been the Packers having a new defensive coordinator.
Mike Pettine was allowed to leave after the NFC Championship Game. The Packers’ defense was not the embarrassment it was the season prior, but it still wasn’t good enough.
After Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard turned down Matt LaFleur for the job, LaFleur selected Joe Barry.
The selection based on his past was not a popular one amongst the fan base. Part of Barry’s resume includes being in charge of the 0-16 Lions defense.
Is that a fair assessment? Of course not. Is this Packers’ defense more talented than any group he’s had to work with? Absolutely.
The issue the Packers have had on defense in recent years has not been talent. Pettine did not get the most out of the investment made in the group.
The same is true for Dom Capers.
Barry is tasked with getting a group that includes six top-33 picks and three big free agent signings to play at a championship level, something they have not done since 2010.