Packers coach Matt LaFleur has named Lucas Patrick, Royce Newman and Jon Runyan as the top three candidates to start at the two guard posts to open the 2021 season.
“It really comes down to the inside, the two guard points. Regardless of the combination of Lucas Patrick, Royce Newman and Jon Runyan. I would say these are the most likely candidates to fill those two positions, ”LaFleur said Thursday.
The Packers expect to start Pro Bowl goalie Elgton Jenkins on the left tackle while David Bakhtiari continues to recover from ACL surgery, opening up another starting spot for the goalie. Last season, Jenkins and Patrick handled the majority of the left and right guards snaps.
Patrick, Newman and Runyan were interchangeable on guard throughout the camp. The Packers also mixed up Ben Braden, but LaFleur didn’t mention that on Thursday.
The next step in the battle: Saturday’s preseason final against the Buffalo Bills.
“It’s a competition all the way,” said LaFleur. “There were times of great play up front, and there were times of inconsistency. We are looking for guys who go there and perform regularly, not only their mission, but also with proper technique. Ultimately, this will lead to more success in the long run.
Patrick played over 900 guard snaps last season and can play all three inside the row. Runyan, a rookie in 2020, played over 150 snaps at the two guard posts as backup. He is also in training at the center.
It is increasingly possible that the recruit will land a starting position.
Newman, a fourth-round pick, has positioned himself as a legitimate candidate to start after excelling in both preseason games. He started against the New York Jets and could start again on Saturday against the Bills.
“Royce did an amazing job. You can definitely see the talent. We just have to make sure he keeps improving every day, ”said LaFleur.
LaFleur said he wanted Newman to continue learning the “nuances” of attacking and playing position so he can play fast and without hesitation.
The Packers open the 2021 season against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, September 12.