5 Packers Who Need To Step Up

For only the second time in the past 30 years, Green Bay will begin a season with no idea what to expect from their starting quarterback. As was the case when lightly-tested Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre in 2008, lightly-tested Jordan Love will be taking the reins from Rodgers come September. All eyes will be on the talented 24-year-old, but he’s not the only player who’ll need to perform well if the young and rebuilding Packers are to challenge in the NFC North.

Here are 5 more players who’ll need to step up if Green Bay is to avoid missing the postseason for the second year in a row:


I debated whether to put Campbell or Quay Walker on this list and then remembered that only one of the linebackers was named All-Pro in 2021 and handed a $50 million contract 14 months ago. Campbell was an above-average starter before he signed with Green Bay, and that’s pretty much what he was for most of last season. While the former Falcon and Cardinal will turn 30 in July, his athleticism doesn’t seem to be diminishing. He can still chase down backs in the run game and stay with athletic tight ends in coverage, but he wasn’t as physical or instinctive in his second season with the Packers. If the defense is going to improve markedly, Campbell will have to be closer to the player he was in 2021.


It’s unfair to blame Douglas for struggling as the nickel corner early last season – a role he was ill-fitted for – but he wasn’t all that much better after moving back outside in November. The 27-year-old looked more like the journeyman dumped by five teams than the revelation who played well enough in 2021 to merit Pro Bowl consideration and sign a $20M extension. The defense needs that version of Douglas to show up in 2023, especially with Eric Stokes recovering from surgery. With Jaire Alexander on one side, it’s a given that opposing quarterbacks will attack whoever’s lined up opposite the two-time All-Pro. That figures to be Douglas, at least early in the season, and he needs to be up to the challenge.


The Packers are counting on Christian Watson to be their No. 1 wide receiver, but every Batman needs a Robin. That will have to be Doubs, who flashed exciting potential as a rookie in 2022. Before suffering a severely sprained ankle in Week 9, the former Nevada star was on pace to catch 64 passes for 629 yards and six TDs. He wasn’t the same after the injury, as his ability to get into and out of cuts was severely compromised. That and having an innate feel for coverage are the keys to his game. Besides his talent, the other thing that makes Doubs so valuable is his versatility. He can line up anywhere, differentiating him from Samori Toure and second-round pick Jayden Reed, who are best suited for the slot.


General manager Brian Gutekunst must believe in the idea of “safety” in numbers because he signed Jonathan Owens and Tarvarius Moore, re-signed Rudy Ford and Dallin Leavitt, and drafted Anthony Johnson in the past three months. While the Packers need one of these players to step up, the key to keeping the safety position from being the Achilles heel of the defense is Savage. The talented and inconsistent 25-year-old was benched in the middle of last season, but his relatively strong finish has the coaches cautiously optimistic that the 21st overall pick in the 2019 draft can finally begin living up to his potential. Wishful thinking? Probably, but perhaps playing for his next contract will motivate Savage.


With veteran defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed gone, the Packers need Wyatt to make a big jump in year 2. The former Georgia star logged only 224 snaps as a rookie. Besides the physical ability that made Wyatt the 28th pick in the 2022 draft, what gives the coaches hope is how well he performed late last season. He was especially effective in a win-or-go-home game against the Lions in Week 18. Wyatt was one of the few Packers to show up. He was impactful versus the run and the pass. That’s what the defense will need from the 25-year-old regularly in 2023. Otherwise, the line will almost certainly be a weakness, and it won’t matter how many former No. 1 picks are at linebacker and in the secondary.

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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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May 17, 2023 3:25 pm

Good list. I’d add Kenny Clark. The Packers are paying him to be great, but he’s only been good the past few seasons. His cap hit is over $27 million in 2024, so I could see this being his last season with the Packers if he doesn’t play a lot better.

Reply to  Jim
May 17, 2023 3:43 pm

Not too many people saying/thinking that of Kenny. He has been their anchor for a while and has only missed 3 games the last 4 years. We must be watching different players because I don’t hear/read that anywhere. There is no chance his cap hit will end up being that in 2024. Some sort of extension or restructure will happen.

Tom M
Tom M
May 28, 2023 11:41 am

Number one on this list. Jordan Love. If he can play everything else falls into place. If he can’t, we take our two first round picks and enter in the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. Number two on this list, Aaron Rodgers. If he plays like last year, Joe Douglas benches him in December to protect his number one pick. Benching Rodgers in December is what Gutekunst should have done last year, taking a long look at Jordan Love. The hope here is that Rodgers teases just enough to make that 65% threshold. It’s no guarantee he still can. He hasn’t played a good game since the end of the 2021 season. Joe Barry could coach like Buddy Ryan and it won’t matter if Love can’t play and we don’t get a first round pick for Rodgers.

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