The Green Bay Packers’ third running back role remains wide open

At least until Kylin Hill returns from his ACL injury, the third running role on this Green Bay Packers team remains wide open one week into training camp.

Competing for that roster spot and potential playing time — at least until Hill returns — is Patrick Taylor, along with undrafted rookies BJ Baylor and Tyler Goodson.

Taylor is likely considered the favorite as he enters his third NFL season in the Matt LaFleur offense. He also brings a well-rounded skill-set to this position with his ability as a ball carrier, pass-catcher, and blocker.

During the Green Bay Packers Week 18 matchup with Detroit last season, Taylor would average almost five yards per rush on 12 attempts. Earlier this offseason, running backs coach Ben Sirmans told reporters that he wants to see Taylor play with more urgency, physicality, and authority this season.

Unfortunately, after beginning training camp on the PUP list, Taylor was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury. At this time, we do not know how much time he will miss.

Taylor’s absence will create more opportunities for the Green Bay Packers rookie running backs Goodson and Baylor.

Goodson was a productive back during his career at Iowa, averaging 5.0 yards per carry over his career along with 17 touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, he was targeted 78 times and averaged 8.3 yards per catch with another touchdown.

When Goodson has had the opportunity in practice, he has displayed impressive burst with the ball in his hands.

Baylor doesn’t have the same amount of college experience as Goodson, with the bulk of his playing time coming in 2021, and he also wasn’t active in the passing game–although, as AJ Dillon has shown us, that doesn’t mean that Baylor isn’t capable.

He put together an impressive 2021 season with nearly 1,300 rushing yards at 6.0 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. Baylor also ranked 16th among all running backs in missed tackles forced, 18th in yards after contact, and 15th in rushes of 10 or more yards, according to PFF ($$).

In part, one of the reasons that none of these running backs has really stood out at this point is because of the play of the defensive front. As a group, they are generating consistent push into the backfield, flowing to the football, and filling gaps–making it difficult for even Dillon and Aaron Jones at times to find daylight to run to.

With the usage of Jones and Dillon — whether that be on the ground or through the air — potentially going up this season in Davante Adams’ absence, as I wrote recently, I do believe there is the opportunity for the Packers’ third running back to play a larger role than what they did in 2021.

This is one way to help both Jones and Dillon remain fresh over the course of the season. Even if the third running back is only on the field for three-to-five snaps per game, that will add up over a 17-game season.

Prior to the 2020 NFL draft, when the Green Bay Packers selected Dillon, Matt LaFleur mentioned the importance of having a third back to lean on for the reasons just mentioned above. One would think he still feels strongly about this.

Now, I’ll add one caveat, which is that I think relying on a third running back to play some snaps becomes more likely when Hill is available just because I’m not sure the trust level is there with the other three–although this is purely speculation.

In the grand scheme of training camp, we are still in the early stages, so it’s not unusual that we don’t yet have a front-runner for the third running back role. As LaFleur recently said, these roster battles have a way of sorting themselves out once the preseason begins.

But while some of these camp competitions begin to take shape, at the running back position, it’s still a bit unclear where each player stands.

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