Packers.com reveals the Green Bay Packers' depth chart heading into training camp, offering an insider's look at key position battles, players to watch and locks to make the opening day roster. We analyze the offense in the first of a three-part series.
As it has been for more than a decade, the quarterback position remains in good shape after Brett Favre announced he would return for his 15th season. Favre did not attend any of the Organized Team Activities. Instead, he spent the time conditioning and strength training, focusing specifically on his core muscle groups. He hopes the new workouts will help him throw for more than 4,000 yards for the fifth time in his career.
Favre's durability is well-documented as he has started an NFL-record 205 consecutive games, but if he does get hurt, training camp likely will determine his backups. Craig Nall, entering his fourth year with the Packers, has the advantage of knowing the offense, and Head Coach Mike Sherman has him slated as Favre's backup. J.T. O'Sullivan and first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers are third and fourth on the depth chart, respectively. Rodgers impressed during the first OTA, but additional plays offered during the second OTA bogged him down and affected his mechanics. However, Rodgers is a very smart quarterback and could move up quickly.
Wide receiver could serve as one of the strongest positions for the Packers. Javon Walker has not been a participant in any team activities throughout the offseason, but he and Donald Driver combined for 173 catches, 2590 yards and 21 touchdowns last year. As the third target, Robert Ferguson averaged 15.3 yards on his 24 catches in 2004. A likely second stringer, Antonio Chatman logged 22 catches for 246 yards last year. Several rookies and second-year players including Vince Butler, Craig Bragg, Vince Butler, Sam Breeden and Chris Samp will jockey for position during camp. Second-round draft pick Terrence Murphy could be the wild card. Making the most of the extra reps in training camp due to Walker's absence, the rookie impressed the coaching staff with precise route running, good hands and solid body control. Last year's opening day roster carried four wide receivers and Andrae Thurman, listed as a 2005 third stringer, on the practice squad.
At tight end Bubba Franks has not agreed to contract terms, but the six-year veteran is a valuable red zone target. He caught seven touchdowns last year. A former wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, David Martin had made a successful transition to tight end. Martin is listed as the second-string tight end. Sean McHugh and Ben Steele played on both the practice and active squads last year. Steele rebounded from an early case of the drops to have a solid OTA. Undrafted rookie free agents Garrett Cross and Steve Fleming will try and push them during training camp. The Packers carried three tight ends on the opening day roster last year with another on the practice squad.
The Packers should continue to have one of the league's most formidable running games. They averaged 4.3 yards last year. Ahman Green is the starter and comes off another impressive year in which he ran for 1,163 yards, seven touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards. Najeh Davenport is listed on the second string. Davenport, a 250-pound bruiser, averaged 5.1 yards last year including a 178-yard rushing performance against the St. Louis Rams on "Monday Night Football" in Week 12. Tony Fisher, who ran for 224 yards last year, should back up Davenport. Walt Williams, known for his athleticism, is listed on the fourth string followed by Chris Robertson and Chaz Williams. The Packers carried three running backs on last year's opening day roster.
Clearing the way for Green and Co. will be a seasoned group of fullbacks. William Henderson enters his 11th year with the Packers, making him the second longest active tenured Packers player behind Favre. Henderson does not receive many rushing attempts or receptions, but blocks effectively, earning Pro Bowl honors last year. The Packers have listed Nick Luchey, a 273-pounder, as Henderson's back up. He could receive competition from Vonta Leach, a practice squad player last year. The Packers carried two fullbacks on 2004's opening day roster.
In 2004 the Packers' offensive line helped set team records for total net yards, net passing yards and fewest sacks allowed and tied the Indianapolis Colts for fewest sacks in the league with 14. The unit should keep Favre's jersey clean again with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher manning the left and right tackles positions respectively. Training camp will sort out the spots behind them. Brad Bedell and Kevin Barry are currently listed on the second team. Barry served as an extra tight end in the U-71 package and hopes to get more action at tackle. On the third string, Steve Morley and Brennan Curtin, who is recovering from a knee injury, will battle for positions.
At guard, the Packers must replace last year's starters, Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, who departed as free agents. Newcomers Adrian Klemm and Matt O'Dwyer are penciled on the first team. When healthy, both have showed promise. However, they have been sidelined with a variety of injuries in the past. O'Dwyer has the nasty edge you look for in a guard while Klemm earned three Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. Competition could become fierce. Grey Ruegamer, who started at center for most of the season last year when Mike Flanagan went down with a knee injury after Week Three, and Atlas Herrion, a practice squad player last year, both received repetitions with the first team during OTAs. Rookies Junius Coston, Chris White and William Whitticker will fight for position during training camp along with second-year player Joe Hayes. During OTAs, center Mike Flanagan, the vocal leader of line, looked to be recovered from last year's knee problems. Second-year center Scott Wells, who started two games last year, is slated at second string. Last year's opening day roster featured nine offensive linemen with another two on the practice squad.