GREEN BAY – Offensive Coordinator Edgar Bennett is already anticipating a high level of intensity from the Packers’ receiving corps once workouts begin this spring and summer.
Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery will be returning from season-ending injuries. Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will be coming off of campaigns that didn’t go as planned. Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis will be looking to build on their late-season emergence that almost got Green Bay to another NFC title game.
The motivations are varied and endless, from player to player. The future of James Jones is up in the air, and new additions could be coming around draft time as well, but no matter what happens there, the Packers’ receivers will be out to prove something.
“When you put it all together, you see that group battling. Tremendous competition, that’s what you want,” Bennett said in his final remarks to the media earlier this week. “When you have competition like that, it raises the level in that room. When you have guys competing on a daily basis, pushing each other to be the best they can possibly be, that helps the team overall.
“It can potentially be that type of situation going into next year with all of those guys battling for play time.”
The absence of Nelson this season created a domino effect on the offense from which the Packers never fully recovered. The shortcomings in the passing game began to surface midway through the six-game winning streak to start the year, opposing defenses adjusted, and the offense was plagued with inconsistency from there on.
Early injuries to Adams and Montgomery didn’t help matters. Neither did a change on the offensive line from a rather blissfully healthy 2014 to an injury-riddled 2015 that forced positions to be shuffled all the way into the playoffs.
The various issues affected quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ play, and while he got the offense clicking again in the postseason, what had been perennially one of the league’s most potent attacks was clearly capable of more.
“We need more from everyone,” Bennett said. “We all need to do more.”
The top six offensive linemen remain under contract, but additional depth will be targeted. Running back Eddie Lacy has been called out by Head Coach Mike McCarthy to get in better shape for 2016, and tight end Richard Rodgers was mentioned as a player needing to elevate his game as well.
With the other veterans at those skill positions (James Starks, John Kuhn and Andrew Quarless) all pending free agents, at least some roster turnover is likely there.
Ranking 23rd in total yards and 25th in passing yards is so far below the Packers’ standard that the coaching staff’s detailed offensive evaluation this offseason will feel different than it ever has under McCarthy.
It will have to be the genesis for different results in 2016.
“I would think our team would have that hunger,” Bennett said. “We’ll learn from that situation, and have that added motivation. I think the entire team and the unit would want that hunger.”