GREEN BAY, WI. — Green Bay Packers tight end Tyler Hudson will have no shortage of motivation in Friday night’s preseason opener at the 49ers.
In three seasons at Iowa, Hudson rushed for 2,551 yards, caught 70 passes and finished with 3,116 yards and 19 touchdowns. At the scouting combine, he ran his 40 in 4.42 seconds.
NFL teams love running backs who can catch and have the speed to carry the ball to the house. But Hudson was not among the 22 running backs drafted in April.
“I really feel like I’m better than the other running backs that have been drafted,” Goodson said Wednesday. “But hey, every team has an opinion and every coach has a guy he likes. It’s out of my control. I just have to control what I can control and be where my feet are every day. That’s what I do.”
Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are locked down as the Packers’ one-two punch in the backfield, but Hudson is challenging Patrick Taylor for the third down. Days like Wednesday won’t hurt. First, he threw, threw Shemar Jean-Charles and broke a big run down the left sideline. Later, in the closing moments of a two-minute drill, Hudson created some space in the back of the end zone — possibly illegally, he said with a laugh — for a 23-yard touchdown from Jordan Love.
Scroll to continue
At 5-foot-9 and 197 pounds, Hudson is a little on the small side, but when he sees a crack, that speed is impossible to ignore. With Jones and Dillon likely to miss the first preseason game and Taylor back from injury, Goodson plans to get a long look at the game against the 49ers.
“First of all, I’m excited for this opportunity,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the best position for any running back to know there’s an open third spot and I have a chance to compete for it. Going into this game, I’m just trying to prepare for whatever situation comes my way.”
After going undrafted, Hudson said signing with Green Bay was an easy decision. Agents Pat Dye and Mitchell Moorer explored options and depth charts. With last year’s seventh-round pick, Kailin Hill, suffering a torn ACL, the opportunity to earn a roster spot was obvious. So, like fellow undrafted running back BJ Baylor, Goodson signed a contract that included an $8,000 signing bonus.
“A lot of other teams that wanted me to come in and be a part of the team, they drafted a running back,” Goodson said. “My agent told me if I came here, it would be the best opportunity for me to get on the field with special teams and even compete for third down. So I told him, “I’m in.” That’s how I got here. Ever since I stepped in the door, it’s been my goal to try and compete as best as I can to win third place. This is my plan.”
And if he turns out to be the wrong one for all those teams that drafted other running backs, so much the better.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know’ why he didn’t get drafted,” Hudson said. He did that for me, putting me in that position to compete for the third spot. Just to be in the best position that fits me, that’s all I wanted coming out of this draft. Yeah, it was unfortunate for me that I wasn’t drafted, but at the same time I have to realize the opportunity that’s at stake and the position that I’m in, and it’s a good position. I’m grateful for that.”
Packers at 49ers: 11 players to watch out for
Quarterback: Jordan Love
Jordan Love (USA Today Sports Images)
Jordan Love had a good training camp. Can he have a good preseason? The only thing that stood out was Love’s ability to play under duress. That was one area where he really struggled last year, going just 6-of-19 under pressure in the regular season. How will Love handle “real” pressure when defenders can hit him instead of run past him?
“I think he did a great job of keeping his eyes off the field and there was a lot of pressure around him,” coach Matt Lafleur said. “It was a bit leaky up front but he’s handling it well and really playing as real as he can in those situations where he’s not just a sitting duck. He tries to move and get out of the way, or escape from the pocket, or throw the ball away. So he’s really making that play, which I think is better than his first two years.”
Running back: Tyler Hudson
Tyler Hudson (USA Today Sports Images)
Hudson has made some big plays over the last few days, including making his way into an open lane for a big run and catch for a touchdown on Wednesday. Here’s our new feature on Goodson.
Receiver: Romeo Dubs
Romeo Dubs at family night (USA Today Sports Images)
After getting a taste of Jair Alexander, fourth-round pick Romeo Dubs will get his first taste of an NFL opponent. He was the most productive of the Packers’ receivers during training camp and showed potential as a true playmaker opposite Allen Lazard.
“Romeo, he shows great signs of great hands,” said Alexander. “Great hands, he finishes every catch. I couldn’t face him all camp, so the other day I said, “Wait.” Before you can celebrate a touchdown, you have to compete with the best.” But no, Romeo does a great job. I like him and I think he works really hard.”
What happened on the training ground is really important. Now, can Dub – and any rookie at any position – succeed in the real world?
“The difference between what you do out there on the practice field and when the lights come on and you don’t have a coach behind you telling you what to expect and being able to communicate and perform at the same time, that’s what the game is all about,” the general manager said Brian Gutekunst. “Guys who have reached this league and have been playing for a long time at a high level, they can handle this environment and this atmosphere. This will be the first and best test to really see these guys.”
Tight end: Tyler Davis
Tyler Davis (USA Today Sports Images)
In Green Bay’s tight end group, Marcedes Lewis is a physical blocker and Josiah Deguar is a versatile, shifty weapon.
If Robert Tonian isn’t cleared of his torn ACL in time for the regular season, can Tyler Davis pick up the slack as a playmaking threat? A former college linebacker, he is the biggest threat among the remaining tight ends.
“Of course he can run,” Gutekunst said. “You guys saw him there. He has very good speed. He has changed his position and it takes time. He’s still very raw in some ways with the position, but I think you see him play all the time and he has that speed that I think defenses have to take notice of.”
Offensive Line: Royce Newman
Jake Henson (67) will start at right guard and Royce Newman (70) will start at right tackle for San Francisco. (USA Today Sports Images)
As a rookie last year, Newman started 16 games at right guard. With David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins returning from torn ACLs, there is a huge hole at right tackle. Is Newman capable of playing the position and blocking, say, the Vikings’ Za’Darius Smith in Week 1 if David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are out?
“Some good times and some not so good times,” Lafleur said Monday. “I would say it was inconsistent. But he’s a guy we have a lot of confidence in because he’s played a lot for us. And he’s against a pretty good front, so there’s going to be times when the defense gets the better of him.”
Defensive line: TJ Slaton
TJ Slayton has made a lot of noise in camp. (USA Today Sports Images)
With the starting trio of Kenny Clarke, Jarran Reid and Dean Lowry out, Slayton will be the leader of the defensive line. Last year’s fifth-round pick who saw inconsistent playing time, Slayton had a great training camp. Run or pass, he was a constant threat.
Outside defender: All
Randy Ramsey (USA Today Sports Images)
The starting duo of Rashaan Gary and Preston Smith will not play on Friday. What if one of them came out on a big play?
Jonathan Garvin appears to have come out on top as the third outside linebacker. Tipa Haleai and La’Darius Hamilton are the top contenders, while Randy Ramsey and fifth-round rookie Kingsley Enagbara still have some catching up to do. There’s a lot to look forward to on Friday, as well as practice together and the game against the Saints next week.
“I’ve been put in this situation since 2019, I’ve always had to compete for a place,” Ramsey said. “I learned that you really have to focus on yourself. I think what helped me make the team (in 2020) and gave me this opportunity is just focusing on myself when I’m out there. It’s the only thing you can really control. At the end of the day, if you start playing back-to-back, you build that confidence and the next thing you know, you’re pitching, you’re making the team.”
Inside linebacker: Quay Walker
Quay Walker (USA Today Sports Images)
Aside from the first offensive line, first-round pick Quay Walker could be the only starter on the field against San Francisco. He had a really good training camp with pro player De’Vondre Campbell. His speed has stood out throughout camp, whether it was a near-interception of Aaron Rodgers on Family Night or closing a gap to eliminate running options after Josiah Deguar’s catch earlier in the week.
“He’s a really talented player,” running back AJ Dillon said. “You see it all the time during camp when it’s open. He’s a very talented player and he’s picking it up quickly.”
Cornerback: Shemar Jean-Charles
Shemar Jean-Charles (USA Today Sports Images)
When Jair Alexander was given the day off last week, Shemar Jean-Charles joined the No. 1 defense. His understanding of being the fourth corner and the next player seems to have eased a bit as Caseian Nixon and Rico Gafford got some first-team reps this week.
Jean-Charles is an interesting player. “He was a favorite of our scouting group,” Gutekunst said of the fifth-round pick in 2021. Jean-Charles had a big Appalachian production, which means a lot of great movies. But he doesn’t have much height (5-10 3/8) or speed (4.52 in the 40). The 49ers will no doubt want new starting quarterback Trey Lance to fire, so it will be a big night for Jean-Charles and the rest of the players.
Safeties: Vernon Scott and Sean Davis
Vernon Scott (USA Today Sports Images)
Vernon Scott worked with the No. 1 defense all week while Darnell Savage rehabbed his hamstring. He did well, including a big interception on Aaron Rodgers during Wednesday’s two-minute drill. Not to be outdone, Sean Davis had two interceptions on Wednesday.
Entering camp, safety appeared to be one of the weakest positions in terms of depth. Maybe not anymore.
“I feel like there’s no pressure between us,” Davis said of the competition between him and Scott. “At the moment we are just playing ball. We won’t let it get to us. We don’t really care who’s going to be the third safety, who’s going to be some safety. We just play ball, play and do what we have to do when we’re called on the field.”
Special teams: Jack Coco
Jack Coco (USA Today Sports Images)
There are two realities in the long snapper. First, Jack Coco beat incumbent Steven Wirtel and will be the only player against the 49ers. Two days before Wirtel’s release, the Packers worked out two snappers. So Koko understands that just because he was #1 on the depth chart on Friday doesn’t mean he will be #1 on the depth chart on September 11th in Minnesota.
“You’re always competing with someone,” Coco said. “No matter what, wherever you are, I know there is always competition. People are always looking for someone to replace you.”