Packers XLV

Five Things I'll Be Watching in Pack's Preseason Opener

Posted August 8th, 2018 @ 08:08pm

Finally, the fake games are almost here. The NFL preseason is upon us; that annual rite of passage when football fans hold their collective breaths until the games end and we find out who got injured and how long they'll be out.

Of course, there's also the fun of watching a lot of young players take advantage of their opportunity and try to earn a spot on the team's 53 man roster or practice squad. And when the Packers take the field Thursday night at Lambeau against the Titans, there will be a lot of chances for guys buried deep on the depth chart to show their stuff.

That's because the Packers will likely rest key veterans (Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, Davon House) and will be forced to rest a number of injured players they'd really like to see play: Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Aaron Jones. Other injured guys, like David Bakhtiari, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry and Bryan Bulaga would likely have been given the night off even if they were healthy.

So what does that leave us with? Here's what I'll be paying close attention to:

1. The backup QB battle begins; It sounds like Brett Hundley will get the start as he begins what will likely be a monthlong battle with DeShone Kizer for the prized backup spot. I expect the Pack to keep only two QBs on the 53, so this should be fun to watch all summer. You have to figure it's Kizer's job to lose, since the new regime just traded for him. But if his presence lights a fire under Hundley and a light bulb goes off, maybe it becomes a real tough decision come cutdown day.

2. The WR competition: If you believe that Adams, Cobb and Allison are assured roster spots, that leaves three or four spots for the group that includes Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Adonis Jennings and Aaron's boy, Jake Kumerow. If they decide to keep seven, those seven guys are fighting for four spots. Maybe one or two could end up on the practice squad, but this game will provide the opportunity for a couple of guys to separate themselves. With all of the raving about Kumerow, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. I'll also be watching Davis closely. He has the advantage of being the incumbent returner, but it would sure be nice to see him take a step in year three and earn the #4 receiver job.

3. Who will step up at outside linebacker? This is probably the Pack's most worrisome roster spot on paper (granted, inside linebacker is thinner, but Matthews can always be asked to play inside on early downs). We all know that the starters will miss some games. Barring a trade for Khalil Mack, um, no I don't see that happening, the Pack will be counting on a batch of unproven guys to step in and get after the quarterback. This is probably Kyler Fackrell's last rodeo. He needs to take a major step in his third year or else he may be out on the street. If Reggie Gilbert can build on his strong play in December, he could be a guy that gets the first look in the regular season. Former Badger Vince Biegel is coming off a lost rookie season and will get a chance to show how far he has come in year two. He should get plenty of opportunities against the Titans. Rookie Kendall Donnerson should get some run late in the game--he seems like a candidate for the practice squad, but you never know.

4. The Pettine Effect: I'm in the camp that believes the biggest addition the Packers made in the offseason was bringing in Mike Pettine to resuscitate the defense. This will be our first look at what Pettine likes to do, though he will obviously be a lot more devious once we get to the regular season. I'm anxious to see how the veterans react to the new scheme, in particular up front where I believe the unit is strongest--at the line. Sounds like the Pack has five guys they love, with Dean Lowry and Montravious Adams getting lots of love this summer. They should get plenty of snaps against the Titans. I'm also anxious to see how Ha Ha Clinton Dix takes to the new defense--feels like a bounce back year for him. The battle to replace Morgan Burnett, between Kentrell Brice and Josh Jones should be fun to watch in these preseason games. Both guys have a chance to be difference makers.

5. The big leg: The Pack invested a fifth rounder in punter JK Scott and the early returns have been strong. Of course, he hasn't kicked in a real game yet, so this will be our first look at the kid under the lights. He played in many of the biggest games in college football over the past few years, but this is obviously a whole new game. If Scott can change field position with one boot from his right leg, it will boost the Pack's coverage ability and the defense.

It feels like the Pack, as usual, has already had more than its share of injuries. Outside of Ryan, they've escaped major ones so far. And Bulaga's quick recovery has been the pleasant surprise of camp. Now, let's see if we can get through Thursday night relatively unscathed as we inch closer to the opener on September 9th.

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Comments (7):

Hundley showed he hasn't changed much. Why are we most impressed by the undrafted guy?

on August 10th, 2018 at 08:54am

Okay...Let me be the first to bring this up on this site. Khalil Mack does not want to return to the Oakland Raiders. Las Vegas has given the Packers the best odds of aquiring him because they say we have the most attractive tradeable assets and he obviously fullfills a glaring need. He is an excellent outside rusher having averaged 12.5 sacks a game, a great pass defender as a linebacker and great tackler. He is a former Defensive Player of the year in 2016 and is still only just 27 years old and in his prime. He would command a large contract and with the Aaron Rodgers on going contract discussions a contract project to fit in. But this guy is a true game changer to a defense that under Mike Pettine would instantly be top 10 which we have never had in the Aaron Rodgers era. This is a defensive game changer in the Reggie White mold. I say go all out for him. If the financial end can be worked out...a big if...because Roders and Mack contracts would be number 1's in the league on offense and defense respectfully. But...this is the time to strike. Here is what I would be willing to give up....Both of our number 1's in the next draft and a number 3 in 2020's draft plus Randall Cobb. I say Gutey should go for it....what do you guys think?? GO PACK GO !!

on August 13th, 2018 at 12:52pm

Whoa Nellie ! After finding out that Khalil Mack is averaging 12.5 sacks per game (Thanks OSSG . ) I have personally called Jon Gruden and offered to trade our entire starting defense for him ! Haven't heard back yet…… Did anyone see that beautiful TD thrown by Brent Dudley last Thurs ? …. Folks … we have a genuine Quarterback controversy brewing …. Who to start ? …. Rodgers or, super Brent Dudley ? … decisions decisions …. MM out.

on August 14th, 2018 at 02:06am

Man, Khalil Mack to the Packers would make this the most feared defense in the league, period. I believe Aaron would take a HUGE paycut if we could get this guy on board. We still have at least 7 more years with Aaron, so we'd be in the Super Bowl I'd say at least 4 of those years. I like how the little brothers to the west think that they can repeat their success like last year. Not happening. Not with Gutey and Pettine running the show. I also think Hundley and Shizer is a perfect back up competition. This team will win 14 games next year on their way to another triumph super bowl. Mark. My. Words. Gopackgo

on August 16th, 2018 at 01:26am

ossg, For Mack I would go 1st rounder and Matthews. As for the Back up QBs, I won't write this in stone, but I don't like Kizer or Hundley from what I've seen. Half their job is to run the scout team, I would love to hear how good they are at that.

on August 16th, 2018 at 09:54am

great ? OSSG, its not the picks, it paying him, with 12 getting 32 ml for next 5 years, it will be tough. 52 only has 1 year left on contract, so not sure raiders would take him Lynndickey fan. I would give up hundely or kizer, a 1st pick and and 2nd. BUT main thing would be, does he want to be here?, these guys are all about themselves and how bad they want to play now days, not like the old days. Glad to see packerbacker 4 #12 passion, but the little brothers to the west will be getting on you I think. they will be tough. Pack should win 11 and vikes 10 if everyone stays healthy, it all comes down to injuries now days. I want to know how the Packers have the toughest schedule and vikes won division, makes no sense. last thing for us old farts over 50, does not 83 valdez- scantling, remind you of John Jefferson?. his build and running style, not saying he will be as good, just reminds me of him a lot. Lofton and Jeffferson with Ol Lynn dickey the good ol days, great offense no d back then kind of sounds the same again, I hope Pettine will change all that. Go Packers.

on August 16th, 2018 at 11:57am

Judging from the eye test two games in to the preseason schedule Kizer should win the No. 2 qb job. Boyle looks like a practice squadder. The Packers will try to get something for Hundley but won't so he goes in the final cut-down. Kumerow has been the "steamer" in this year's camp but we've seen his like before. In the end the Packers won't give up on their 3 drafted receivers this quick nor have they given any reason to do so. Adams, Cobb, Allison and the te's Graham & Lewis will be the main men for Aaron Rodgers this season anyway. I was a little surprised and disappointed the Packers didn't draft at least one good rb prospect or bring in a couple more in free agency this offseason. As long as they stay healthy "the committee" of Williams, Jones & Montgomery could be okay but that's taking a chance. A "Lacy-type" thousand yard workhorse would really help the offense. We won't see the "Pettine effect" on defense until the regular season. They won't show too much in preseason games and are auditioning players more than running schemes during this time. The energy and aggressiveness of the unit, though, already appears to be better than it was. I don't think anything comes of the Khalil Mack talk. The Raiders aren't going to deal him and with the Aaron Rodgers' contract extension and other contract and cap issues just ahead it would be too complicating for the Packers to make a simple trade. But if he somehow comes, great.

on August 21st, 2018 at 05:44am

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