In a season riddled with inconsistencies and injuries, a plethora of things will need to go in the Green Bay Packers' favor to close the gap on the final NFC playoff spot.
With Rashan Gary, Quay Walker, Rudy Ford, and Preston Smith providing weekly consistency on defense, there have been far too many coaching decisions limiting role players who have been playing well to make a more significant impact on the unit.
Now, with a challenging stretch of games coming up, the Packers will need to get more out of their infusion of young players on both sides of the ball while key contributors continue to deliver.
As indicated by the Packers' moves, or lack thereof, at the trade deadline, the front office has seemingly turned its attention to the 2024 season. But with a lot of tread left in the current season, some players need expanded roles to help the team win games now.
No matter if the team is in playoff contention or not, these three players have seen playtime throughout the season, but need expanded roles to finish out the year.
Musgrave was the Packers' first offensive player selected in the 2023 draft after they used their first second-round pick on the talented tight end.
However, despite being thrust into a starting role to open training camp, he has hardly realized starter-level production or usage in his rookie campaign.
Granted, rookie tight ends have historically been limited contributors. But for comparison's sake, fellow top-drafted rookie tight ends Dalton Kincaid of Buffalo and Sam LaPorta of Detroit have eclipsed 40 catches and 300 yards to Musgrave's 27 catches and 249 yards.
It's been a somewhat disappointing, slow start for the Oregon State product. While dealing with the occasional drop, Musgrave has only accumulated five or more targets three times this season, and his first touchdown finally came in a week nine victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
The more significant issue has been the play design to scheme Musgrave open. Until his first receiving touchdown, the Packers have set Musgrave up to mostly receive short completions and break tackles to accumulate yards; that's not his game, nor has it worked.
As seen by his touchdown, the Packers ran a masterful play call that opened up Musgrave in the middle of the field for a catch-and-run 20-yard score. On a previous possession, the Packers seized his speed to climb over a linebacker on an intermediate route, where Jordan Love placed a beautiful pass for the 6-foot-6 Musgrave to go up and snag a 25-yard reception.
Despite only four targets against the Rams, there's optimism that Packers' play callers have identified how they can get Musgrave more production in the offense.
With the offense looking more in sync in week nine, if Green Bay continues to get Musgrave more involved in ways that best utilize his skill set, it's realistic to believe that he will end up with a major second half of the season after a slow start. He will be pivotal to Green Bay's offense bouncing back from a lethargic start.