Well Packers fans, its nearly here; the day that has been on our minds for what seems like an eternity. Packers football is finally back! Although its not quite the real, and the debate over how many games should make up the NFL preseason rages on, these games do serve an important purpose and and can be quite entertaining if you know what to look for. And with that, let’s do a little breakdown of what to expect and what to watch for:
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS
Which Carson Wentz will show up?
Carson Wentz was the number 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft and started all season long for the Eagles. He had some really fantastic plays, especially early in the season, but as the year went on, his performances dipped and he just wasn’t the same quarterback. Through his first 4 games he threw 7 touchdowns to only 1 interception. He looked like the next big thing. But over the last twelve games of the season he threw only 9 touchdowns to go with 15 picks. Its hard to know how much Wentz will play as no team wants to risk having their quarterback hurt in a meaningless game but I’m sure the Eagles will want to get Wentz at least some time on the field. During his time on the field keep an eye on him, it could be very telling how the entire Eagles season goes.
How will the running backs look?
Its been well documented that the Packers rushing offense struggled last season but the front office hopefully did plenty to address those concerns. Ty Montgomery flashed brilliance last year but lacked the consistency one hopes to see from a true number one back. A full offseason in the running back program will hopefully have helped in that regard. If so, he has has a chance to be a real force for the Packers offense.
The Packers also spend three draft picks on running backs, hoping to not only bolster depth but also find the ideal compliment to incumbent number 1, Ty Montgomery. My eyes will be glued to Jamaal Williams from BYU every time he’s on the field. He’s a bruising runner, made to get his yards between the tackles whether the defense likes it or not. He and Ty have complementary strengths and weaknesses which could lead to them being a perfect tandem. Keep an eye on Aaron Jones and Davante Mays as well though. The coaching staff will definitely want to see what they’ve got in their young running backs so all of them should see the field.
Where will Josh Jones be lining up?
The offseason hype train surrounding second round pick Josh Jones is full steam ahead, it seems like everyday since rookie mini camp the man has been making one giant play after the other, constantly impressing teammates and coaches alike. One very interesting quote about Jones reads as such: “We like to reserve judgement when its just helmets and shorts, but I think he looks the part.” That’s what Aaron Rodgers said about him so maybe this hype train has a real engine behind it. But what will really be interesting about Jones is where he lines up.
He has the ability needed to do nearly anything on defense, he can play safety as that is what he was drafted to do. He’s even lined up at middle linebacker at times throughout camp and it has been said that he also has the coverage ability to play some corner. This kind of versatility is perfect for Dom Capers’ defense which loves to move players around and be deceptive. I’m sure Capers won’t want to reveal too much of his plans of how he plans to use Jones but watch him closely and pay attention to how he does when playing different roles.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
There will be plenty of interesting battles to watch for during the preseason but one of the most important ones will be the receivers and which ones end up making the final 53 man roster. Last year the Packers elected to keep 7 receivers. Going into the 2017 season though its hard to know how many will be kept on the final roster. With the additions of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, along with a returning Richard Rodgers, there will be three spots to tight ends, which could mean there’s one less spot for a receiver.
Obviously, when it comes to the receiver core there are some locks. You can guarantee that Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will all be on the final roster. If the Packers only keep 6, that only leaves three spots left to divvy up between Trevor Davis, Geronimo Allison and Jeff Janis, Malachi Dupre, and Deangelo Yancey. One other man to watch throughout this battle could be UDFA Michael Clark out of Marshall. He’s only got one year of college football under his belt after switching from basketball but he has been turning heads this offseason. Although obviously raw, he stands at 6’6″ and has athleticism that cannot be ignored. While he’s a stretch to make the final roster, it would make sense to stash him on the practice squad and see if he reaches what could be a ridiculously high ceiling.
Although I’m sure all of us would love to see the Packers offense really kick it into gear and air the ball out I wouldn’t be too surprised if this game ends up as sort of a grind it out slugfest with lots of rushing yards. The packers will want to see what they’ve got in their deep stable of new running backs and the Eagles will surely want to keep the pass rush off of their young quarterback which could lead them to relying heavily on the run game. I’m sure both teams will still want to throw the ball some and be aggressive but it may not be the main focus for either team. Look for the Packers to run an even more vanilla offense than the one they normally employ and grind out a win for week 1 of the preseason.
Final Score: Packers 20 Eagles 13
GO PACK GO