Packers edge running back depth already in question after 2 games

Understandably, the Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver position has attracted a lot of attention in recent months.

Yet another major concern, perhaps even bigger than the receiver’s, is the lack of depth experienced on the edge of the run, which has already proven to be an issue in just two games.

The Packers, fortunately, have one of the best running back duos in the NFL in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Among all frontrunners for two weeks, Smith ranks third in PFF’s passing rush production metric, while Gary ranks 12th.

However, the edge runner position is heavily rotated, or at least it’s supposed to be. Last year, for example, Gary and Smith were on the field for less than 70% of the Packers’ defensive snaps, which is relatively normal.

But to start this season, Gary has been on the field 83% of the defensive snaps and Smith 87%, an unsustainable pace for both. Fortunately, for both players, the defense was on the field for only 41 total snaps against Chicago.

Question marks over the depth of edge running backs aren’t new to the Packers. In 2021, when neither Smith nor Gary were on the field, there was a lack of impact plays from rotation players. That’s why the Packers felt the need to sign Whitney Mercilus, who found some success before his biceps injury.

The only significant addition to the running back room this offseason was Kingsley Enagbare, who was selected in the fifth round of the draft. Enagbare shone in preseason, but relying heavily on a rookie fifth-round pick carries obvious risks.

Enagbare, along with Jonathan Garvin, who was one of the andy herman The lowest-rated defenders of 2021 have been the third and fourth choices at wing back to start the season, with Tipa Galeai playing solely on special teams. Enagabre has 14 defensive snaps in two games to Garvin’s 15, and they also don’t have any PFF ($$ pressure on record), though it’s not like they’ve had many chances either.

If there’s a position the Packers are going to add during the season, something they’ve done often under general manager Brian Gutekunst, the running back will most likely be at the top of that list.

As I mentioned initially, the current percentage of snaps Gary and Smith are playing is not going to be sustainable over a full 17-game season. At some point, Garvin and Enagbare will have to take on bigger roles, but what kind of impact they can have on an ongoing basis is still unknown.

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