OTAs should answer Packers' running back (and other) questions

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's answer week around the Green Bay Packers.

The start of OTA practices should reveal key information to some of the burning questions of the offseason:

  • Who’s the No. 1 running back?

  • Do the Packers have a better option if Aaron Rodgers goes down again?

  • What will the right side of the offensive line look like?

  • How will the two top draft picks, both cornerbacks, stack up against the veterans?

  • What, exactly, does a Mike Pettine defense do?

There might even be answers to some questions no one even imagined. It was at this time of the year in 2015 when then-defensive coordinator Dom Capers surprisingly unveiled the "quad" package -- a 4-3 alignment (which ultimately flopped) that surprised most considering Capers’ system had long been rooted in the 3-4 philosophy.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the things that should come into focus beginning on Tuesday, when the Packers will hold their first OTA that is open to reporters and the public (weather permitting):

A true starter or RBBC?: Coach Mike McCarthy used three different starters at running back last season -- Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. None was able to stay healthy.

Williams played the most snaps (441 or 42.1 percent of the offensive plays), led the team with 556 yards rushing and finished the season as the starter. Fellow rookie Aaron Jones (236 snaps, 22.5 percent), who got his first chance after Williams' knee injury in Week 4, was the most productive with a 5.5-yard average and matched Williams with four touchdowns despite a pair of knee injuries. Montgomery, the converted receiver who won the starting job in training camp, succumbed to rib and wrist injuries after just 275 snaps (26.2 percent).

The running back-by-committee approach has never bothered McCarthy, especially early in the year when he tries to preserve players at such a taxing position, but someone has to take the first rep with the starters in practice. Whoever that is will get the first chance to prove he can handle the biggest workload.

DeShone Kizer or Brett Hundley?: The Packers thought Hundley was prepared to succeed after Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6 at Minnesota. They were wrong. McCarthy admitted after the season that Hundley "wasn’t ready for what he needed to be ready for."

There’s a new quarterbacks coach (Frank Cignetti Jr. for Alex Van Pelt) and a new quarterback in the room -- Kizer. The Packers traded former first-round cornerback Damarious Randall to the Browns for Kizer, who went 0-15 as a rookie starter last season. McCarthy said recently that Kizer compares favorably to the five quarterbacks picked in the first round of this year’s draft.

McCarthy and his staff must get Kizer to improve his accuracy; his completion percentage (53.6) ranked last among all regular starters in the NFL last season.

Who’s on the right side?: Veteran right guard Jahri Evans has not been re-signed and veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga remains in rehab mode for his reconstructed ACL. It means the Packers could have a completely different right side of the line come Week 1.

GM Brian Gutekunst drafted only one lineman -- Cole Madison in the fifth round. He was a college right tackle who seems more suited as a guard in the NFL. Justin McCray started at both guard and tackle last season and should get the first shot at replacing Evans, but the Packers have not been afraid to play rookie linemen in the past. Current starters Corey Linsley (center) and David Bakhtiari (left tackle) both started as rookies because of injuries.

The Packers say Bulaga remains in their plans despite his bloated salary and injury history, but he won’t be on the field this week. It will be interesting to see if it’s Jason Spriggs or Kyle Murphy at that spot for the interim.

Where do the rookie corners fit?: First-round pick Jaire Alexander and second-rounder Josh Jackson both have the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. Alexander, however, might be better suited to play inside because of his lack of height (5-foot-10).

Either way, the Packers will need at least one new starter in the nickel package. The expectation is that Kevin King and Tramon Williams will hold two of the three cornerback spots in that alignment, so there’s a spot to be won.

What is a Pettine defense?: There’s been a lot of talk about what the Packers' new defensive coordinator coaches; the buzzword has been "aggressive."

Players don’t wear pads and there's no full contact during the offseason practices, but there are still 11-on-11 periods that should reveal some of what "aggressive" actually means. The expectation is that the corners will play more press-man coverage (no more soft cushions) and the defensive fronts will be multiple and confusing to the offense.