15 Questions I'm Hoping to Get Answered in the Preseason OpenerPosted:Aug 11th, 2016 6:09 pm
Have I mentioned I'm REALLY glad I decided not to make the trip to Canton last weekend? How disappointing to be there and find out at the last moment that the game was being canceled. I hope none of my faithful readers suffered that fate.
As much as we were all ready to watch some Packer football last Sunday, put me in the group that is happy the team is only playing four preseason games. As for the opener against the Browns, much of what I posted leading up to the Hall of Fame game still stands, but I felt like I had to write something leading up to the first game. So here are my 15 questions I'm looking to get answered in game number one:
1. Does Blake Martinez look the part? The Pack would love to get a major, immediate contribution from their fourth round draft pick. Here's our first chance to see if he looks quicker and twitchier than the last guy who wore #50 and roamed the middle of the defense.
2. Will Jeff Janis step up? All we've read this preseason is how he has failed to grab on to the opportunity for playing time afforded him with the injuries to Nelson and Montgomery. It sounds like he's doing all the right things, but he's a lousy practice player. He's become a core member of special teams, so it's unlikely that he's fighting for his spot, but he has a real chance to grab the #3 WR job. Here's his first chance to show he deserves it.
3. Is Kenny Clark ready for his close-up? He's the other rookie the Packers are hoping makes a major 2016 contribution. Let's face it, we're always, always, always intrigued to see the #1 draft pick for the first time on the field.
4. Can the rookie QBs play? With Aaron Rodgers being held out and Brett Hundley nursing an injury, the two rookies, Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams, will get all the snaps. It would be preposterous to expect either of them to set the world on fire. I'm just hoping they're competent enough to let us know how the other guys look. The skill guys can't show their stuff if the QBs are struggling.
5. Do we have a punter competition? So far it doesn't sound like the former Gopher, Pete Mortell, is striking fear in the heart of Tim Masthay. But maybe he just needs to play in a real game to show his stuff. He'd be a great story: Green Bay native whose dad and grandpa have been running the scoreboard for decades. But the dude needs to kick a lot better than he has in practice.
6. Can John Crockett cement himself as the #3 RB? As I've mentioned, I'd love to see the Minneapolis native show his stuff this preseason. We're all hoping for a bounce back season from Eddie Lacy. Maybe seeing Crockett run wild in August will motivate Lacy to avoid the KFC drive thru.
7. How does Burnett look at LB? We've heard that Dom Capers is exploring using the talented safety as a linebacker in the dime to keep one more athletic guy on the field, someone who has a better chance at covering the tight ends and backs on those third down plays. Not sure how much we'll see of this in the preseason, but it will be worth watching for.
8. Riiiiiiiip? OK, it doesn't roll off the tongue like Kuuuuuhn, but Aaron Ripkowski is the new John Kuhn and we'll see how he looks in short yardage opportunities and wherever else they plan on using him. He's a special teamer as well. Let's see if he's ready to make that jump in year number two. Big opportunity in front of him.
9. Does Ty look like Ty yet? Just the news that the second year WR is off the PUP and practicing is great news. He apparently suffered one of the worst ankle injuries of all time and is finally healthy. Reports that he shined in his first practice were encouraging. The next step is seeing him on the field. Not sure how much, or if, he'll play. But I'll be looking for #88. I'm hoping he can grab the #3 WR spot--if he does the Packers offense will be very versatile.
10. Is Jared Cook the answer at tight end? We won't get an answer just yet, but like Montgomery, he stood out in his first practice since coming off the PUP list and if healthy, can provide a major boost to this offense. It would be nice to see him out there for a few snaps and then see what kind of rhythm he can get in with Rodgers over the next few weeks.
11. Can Sam Barrington earn his way back? The third guy to come off the PUP this week is listed as a starter at inside linebacker and has reportedly dropped 22 pounds. We'll get our first look to see if he's ready to compete to fend off the Martinez challenge.
12. Casey who? With Hayward gone and the Pack not adding anyone through the draft to replace him, it will be interesting to see who lands at this position after Shields, Randall and Rollins. I think LaDarius Gunter will end up the #4 guy, but we'll see a number of players over the next four weeks try to earn a spot. Thompson always seems to unearth an unknown cornerback. Who will it be this year?
13. What's the rush? Or more precisely, who will provide the pass rush with Peppers and Matthews unlikely to get a lot of snaps. There will be an opportunity for someone to step up. Will Nick Perry finally be that guy? Will Datone Jones take to his new position? Can Kyler Fackrell make a name for himself? Or can we just change his name?
14. Is Jared for real? It sounds like the one wide receiver who's stood out so far is Jared Abbrederis. Can he continue to show it in preseason games? Can he stay healthy? I get the feeling the team will only keep five WRs this year. He might find himself battling Davante Adams, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison for the last spot.
14. Who wants the punt returner job? Right now, the depth chart reads Hyde, Davis, Abbrederis. Can Davis earn himself a roster spot by being dynamic in this role? He gets his first shot against the Browns.
15. Is Spriggs the left tackle of the future? OK, I'm pretty sure we won't get an answer just yet, but I think there's a good chance he'll be the starter there next season. Looking forward to seeing what he looks like out there. Just knowing the team may have some real depth at the position would be a nice development.
Bonus question: Can everybody please stay healthy? No injuries to buzzkill the season in August this year, okay? Is that too much to ask?