‘Explosive’ Tyler Goodson impacting Packers offense in ‘variety’ of ways

Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Goodson (39) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers running back Tyler Goodson (39) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis. /

The third running back role is one of a few positional battles that will take place for the Green Bay Packers this summer, and second-year player Tyler Goodson’s dynamic presence and ability to impact both the run and passing games is going to make keeping him off the final roster a difficult decision.

Goodson was signed as an undrafted rookie in 2022 out of Iowa, and many thought that following his performance during the preseason, he was going to earn a roster spot last year. Goodson showcased some playmaking abilities, forcing five missed tackles, according to PFF, in the final two preseason games on just 16 carries and averaged 2.31 yards after contact in those games, with two runs of 10-plus yards. We also saw him catch eight of nine passes for 60 yards, including averaging 10.0 yards after the catch.

However, instead of being on the final roster, Goodson would end up spending the entire year on the practice squad.

That same burst that we saw from Goodson last summer has been on display over the past few weeks during the Packers OTA practices that have been open to the media. Bringing an Aaron Jones-like style to the running back position, Goodson has shown good vision with the ball in his hands, terrific burst, and has been elusive. In the passing game, we’ve also seen him lining up in the slot, catching the ball naturally, and then being able to make plays in space.

"“Tyler has done a nice job,” said Matt LaFleur following Tuesday’s practice. “And we’ve used him in a variety of different ways, whether it’s out as a receiver or in the backfield. He’s an explosive player, and he’s got really good hands. I think he’s a guy that really matured over the course of the year. Has a much better grasp of the expectations, what it takes to be a pro.”"

Competing with Goodson for the third running back role is seventh-round rookie Lew Nichols, Patrick Taylor, and Emanuel Wilson. Although how each player performs on offense, both as a ball carrier and as a pass-catcher, will be important, that may not be the deciding factor in who makes the final roster.

A few weeks ago, running backs coach Ben Sirmans mentioned that special teams would play a huge role in that decision. I also suspect that blocking abilities will be a crucial factor as well. With Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon taking most, if not all, of the running back snaps, whoever is going to be the third running back has to contribute in different ways than as a ball carrier.

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Looking back at last season, these aspects of the game were largely the two main reasons that Taylor was RB3 for much of the year. Does Taylor have more playmaking abilities with the ball in his hands than Goodson? No, he doesn’t. But he was more sound in those aforementioned areas.

Goodson took snaps as the kick return man last preseason and did so once again during Tuesday’s practice. The Packers do, however, have All-Pro return man Keisean Nixon returning, and they just drafted Jayden Reed, who has experience in that role from his time at Michigan State.

If Goodson isn’t going to be the return man, he will have to find other ways to contribute on special teams, along with holding his own in pass protection, something we will see more of once training camp begins, and the pads come on. For what it’s worth, Goodson did also take snaps on the kick coverage, punt return, and punt coverage units last preseason.

If Sirmans says that special teams are going to play a huge role, then it’s absolutely going to. However, at some point, teams should simply want as many playmakers on their roster as they can get – even in a small role – and Goodson continues to fit that mold.

"“He’s got two great examples in that room,” said LaFleur, “and I’ve talked about that running back room so many times, but anytime you’ve got guys like Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in that room to really set the tone and teach those young guys to be a pro, I think it’s a huge help for everyone in that room. I think Ben (Sirmans), as I’ve said time and time again, just the culture created in that running back room is outstanding.”"