Were There Clear Winners for the Packers’ Position Battles in Camp?


Don Barclay. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Photograph

The Green Bay Packers entered the 2013 training camp with quite a few positions undecided on their roster. This made for interesting drama throughout August, but now that the preseason has come to a close and the regular season kicks off this Sunday, were any winners at these position battles ever really decided?

It’s obvious at this point Eddie Lacy will be the Packers’ featured back with DuJuan Harris spending the season on injured reserve. But the other roster competitions from training camp haven’t had such luck in declaring a clear victor.

Jeremy Ross beat out rookie wideouts Charles Johnson, Myles White, and Tyrone Walker for the fifth wide receiver spot, but not all the position battles were met with this type of resolution.

Marshall Newhouse. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Take right tackle, for example. Halfway through camp Don Barclay moved ahead of Marshall Newhouse and started the last three preseason games with the first team. However, Newhouse continued alternating with Barclay at right tackle with the first team throughout the preseason, and even during Coach McCarthy‘s Monday press conference, he stated that he doesn’t want to declare a starter there yet and Newhouse could get some looks at right tackle during the season opener.

Was I the only one that found this to be a bit strange?

Why would the Packers sub in Newhouse at right tackle during the season opener if Barclay is clearly the favorite for the job? This uncertainty only tells us that the Packers still haven’t decided who their starting right tackle is yet. It’s a position Barclay holds for now, but Newhouse could just as easily get the call up if Barclay struggles early on during the season.

And what about the other position battles on the team that were so highly anticipated going into camp?

M.D. Jennings. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Do we have a clear-cut starting strong safety on defense? The competition between M.D. Jennings and second-year man Jerron McMillian was supposed to be something to watch this preseason, but has either safety really elevated their game and grabbed the reins?

It seems the Packers will start Jennings over McMillian by default to begin the season, but things are still left open for McMillian to make a push for the job. It’s still clear that things are left undecided at this position going into the season, but it’s not the only roster position facing this predicament.

Let’s not even talk about what happened to the competition for the backup quarterback job. That was one of the ugliest developments in Packers position battle history.

What was supposed to be a preseason showdown between Graham Harrell and practice squad-holdover B.J. Coleman, ended up being an awkward soiree of overthrown passes and confused expressions when third-wheel Vince Young joined the party.

Seneca Wallace. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Packers even scrapped this experiment altogether and started over with veteran Seneca Wallace and former Wisconsin Badger Scott Tolzien. This was probably the best choice at this point. I mean, did anyone feel comfortable with Coleman as the Packers’ only backup behind Rodgers going into the season?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And apparently neither did Ted Thompson and Coach McCarthy after just two days. Although, picking up a guy like Wallace was probably in the plans all along when the team made their final roster cuts on Saturday.

So what should we make of the 2013 Packers? There still remains to be plenty of uncertainty on the roster heading into the season.Like how does the depth chart play out at positions like tight end and cornerback? And will first-round pick Datone Jones ever start or play in the base defense or will he just come in during pass rushing situations?

Even then, he’ll have to compete with Mike Daniels, Mike Neal, and B.J. Raji for one of the two down lineman spots in the nickel defense.

It appears plenty of questions remain for this Green Bay Packers team, and these questions just lead to more questions and then to more questions.

When will we ever get our answers?

Probably not until we are well into the regular season. But that is the beauty of the NFL. There is so much speculation and uncertainty heading into every season, and then, things come together as we watch our favorite team play every Sunday.

So let’s not get worked up about who’s going to start here or there, or who won this position battle.

But instead, let’s enjoy watching our favorite team take the field and let the coaches decide these things. After all, that is what they get paid to do and we pay to watch, so let’s enjoy it.

It all begins this Sunday in San Francisco.