It is about time. Packers football is finally back for the 2018 season. After a couple weeks of listening to reports on what transpires during training camp, we finally get to see this Green Bay team in action. They take the field at home for their first preseason game and are set to take on the Tennessee Titans.
While certain positions are pretty set in stone heading into the season, there are many camp battles that are still wide open. Plenty of young guys are looking to make their mark in the next four games to earn a spot on this roster. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five things to watch in tonight’s preseason game.
1. The Young Wide Receivers
The Packers made a significant roster move in the offseason at receiver, letting long time favorite Jordy Nelson go. They then went out and drafted three wide receivers in April (J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown). Right now, it looks like Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison will be the starters for the opener. But, there is still plenty of time for a young gun to make a move. The three young rookies have size, athleticism, and speed. They just need to develop and gain a rapport with Aaron Rodgers every chance they get.
However, those three aren’t alone in the chase for a roster spot at wide receiver. Second year wideout DeAngelo Yancey spent all of 2017 on the practice squad, and he’s looking to make a move during camp. Don’t forget about the new guy generating buzz, Jake Kumerow. So many fans and reporters have said good things about him. We will see what happens with some game reps tonight.
2. Punters Are People Too
The three wide receivers aren’t the only rookies to keep an eye on tonight. Rookie punter J.K. Scott from Alabama has plenty of buzz surrounding him. He has had some really good reps so far in camp, and a couple punts have gone 60 plus yards with hang times over five seconds. If he can continue to look good in the preseason, the Packers have another weapon to control field position during the season.
3. Jaire and Josh Season
We’re sticking with a theme as far as things to watch. The Packers are continuing to look for talent to finally get the defense back to where it was during their Super Bowl run. Back in April, general manager Brian Gutekunst took two corners with their first two picks in order to help rebuild the secondary. Jaire Alexander plays very well in man coverage, while Josh Jackson plays better in zone. Both will get opportunities to excel in Mike Pettine’s defense, but they have to show the potential in the preseason to get significant reps in the regular season.
4. Where’s The Depth On The Edge?
One of the positions many assumed would be addressed in the draft was the pass rush. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry as a duo is still pretty effective, but Matthews is in his thirties now and Perry seems to always fight through injuries. In a surprise move, the Packers opted not to draft pass rushers early. This gives an opportunity for guys like Kyler Fackrell and Reggie Gilbert to prove the Packers right with their decision. Both players have flashed before, but now it’s time to prove they belong in the rotation during the season.
5. Who Will Back Up Rodgers?
Packers fans got a front row seat to see Brett Hundley in action after Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. The results were inconclusive. Hundley showed promise in some games but fell very flat in others. In the offseason, Green Bay traded for Browns second round pick DeShone Kizer. Kizer has the arm to make NFL throws, but he needs to be coached up to understand reading defenses and going through progressions. Let’s also not forget about another arm in camp, Tim Boyle. Boyle has flashed during training camp, and since no one has separated themselves, he could make a run for the backup job. We know Rodgers won’t take a lot of preseason reps, so we will see plenty of each guy in every game.
What are you guys watching for in tonight’s game? Let us know and go enjoy some football!