Detroit Lions, NFC North training camp previews: Offense

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Green Bay Packers

After a 12-win season and a division title, the Packers surprised everyone in several respects this offseason. Not only did they draft two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers’ likely eventual replacement at quarterback, but they did little to restock an underwhelming receiving corps. It should make for some fascinating storylines to follow when they reconvene later this month.

Rodgers has been one of the best at his position for much of his 12-year tenure as Green Bay’s starter. Still, the Packers couldn’t resist the opportunity to select the strong-armed, yet raw Jordan Love out of Utah State in April’s draft. Barring unforeseen circumstances, no one is expecting Love to be handed the keys this season. These days, however, quarterbacks are not drafted in the first round without a clear plan to turn to them before too long.

There is little doubt that this will light a fire under the hyper-competitive Rodgers, who will try to prove that he is still at the top of his game once the Packers hit the field. How he progresses in his second year under head coach Matt LaFleur will be an important narrative to track.

The other perplexing angle of the Packers’ offseason involved their approach to addressing Rodgers’ supporting cast. It’s no secret that aside from three-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams, there were few threats in Green Bay’s receiving corps last season. Yet, in a celebrated receiver class, they decided against drafting a wideout. The only significant addition to the group was free agent Devin Funchess, who missed most of 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts due to a broken collarbone.

Instead, the Packers focused on elevating the running game by selecting bruising tailback A.J. Dillon in the second round. This, despite having rising star Aaron Jones in tow, who tied for the NFL lead with 19 total touchdowns in 2019. LaFleur clearly wants to field a dominant ground attack and these two should provide an excellent 1-2 punch. How that shift in philosophy affects Rodgers’ play and mood will be an interesting aspect of their preparation for the season.

Entering a contract year, David Bakhtiari returns to anchor the left tackle spot. He is one of the best in the league, and the Packers will eventually need to decide if they or someone else will be the ones to pay him like it.

Lions castoff Rick Wagner returns to his home state to take over at right tackle for the departed Bryan Bulaga. Wagner did not live up to expectations in Detroit over three seasons but will be relied upon to help maintain what has been a strong unit in Green Bay over the past several years. The middle of the line is solid with center Corey Linsley flanked by veteran Billy Turner and promising second-year man Elgton Jenkins.

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Tight end is another area of uncertainty. Jace Sternberger is the presumptive number one, despite not catching a pass as a rookie last year. Rookie Josiah Deguara will also figure prominently in the offense, though he will likely be deployed primarily as a run blocker until his receiving chops become more refined. Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan will compete for any leftover snaps, with Lewis’ 200-plus career games worth of experience giving him a possible advantage.