Thoughts on the Pack's 2016 Debut and Favre's Big WeekendPosted:Aug 5th, 2016 4:09 pm
Most of us have thought about this weekend for many years: Brett Favre's Hall of Fame enshrinement. We figured the Packers would play in the game, but it was all about #4 taking his place among the game's immortals. Safe to say, most of us didn't consider the idea that his locker at the Hall would feature two team's jerseys. But here we are. More on that at the end of this blog. For now, here's what I'll be focusing on Sunday night:
Since this is a bonus preseason game, not to mention that these teams will meet in the regular season, we can expect the game plan to be the definition of 'vanilla.' We figured Aaron Rodgers would be wearing a baseball hat all night, and now it looks like Brett Hundley will follow suit, with what's being described as a minor injury. That's disappointing, to be sure. We all want to see what kind of progress Hundley's made, especially since he's one play from being the starting QB. But with four more games to play, it's not a big deal. But since this is the Pack's only nationally televised preseason game, it would have been nice to showcase Hundley a bit.
So while Andrew Luck is expected to take a few snaps, we'll get Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams. We'll see a lot from these guys over the next few weeks to see if one of them can earn a spot on the practice squad this season.
I'm looking forward to see a lot of Minneapolis' own John Crockett, who has the inside track on the #3 running back spot. We weren't going to see much of Eddie Lacy anyway, and with his ankle injury he's a scratch. Crockett very well may get the start. I'm anxious to see what all the extra training he participated in since last done for his game. The Brandons, Burks and Ross, will also get plenty of run. We'll see if either can challenge for Crockett's spot.
As for the rookies, we'll all be anxious to see Kenny Clark, who's earning some very early raves, along with second round pick Jason Spriggs, who could very well be the starting left tackle at this time next year. But the rookie we're all anxious to see is linebacker Blake Martinez. The coaches are showing a lot faith in him already; these games will show whether he's up to the task of being a three down linebacker in his first season. With Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington injured, Martinez will get an extended look in this game.
I'm also keeping my eye on Beniquez Brown, an underrated linebacker out of Mississippi State, who was thought to be a third or fourth rounder. He'll also benefit from the injuries at the top of the depth chart. I have a suspicion he'll outshine Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford, a couple of roster holdovers who are firmly on the bubble.
The wide receiver position will also be intriguing to watch. Granted, they're catching passes from completely green QBs, but there is a battle for the #3 WR spot, probably between Davante Adams and Jeff Janis. Jared Abbrederis has earned raves in camp and he might be fighting with rookie Trevor Davis for a roster spot. Davis will get a chance to return some punts and we'll see if he's a possibility there. We know Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery won't be out there, so the healthy guys will get plenty of snaps.
I'll be watching Datone Jones as he makes the full-time transition to outside linebacker. And with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers unlikely to play, we'll see a lot of Jones, along with rookie Kyler Fackrell. Former Bronco Lerentee McCray will also get a long look. The Packers have a logjam at this position...one that could look very different a year from now, assuming Peppers retires. Nick Perry is also on a show-me season and needs to step up and stay healthy or his nine lives will be up.
Finally, I'm anxious to watch the young corners. Both Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins will have much larger roles, of course. But I'm wondering who will earn the #4 spot. My money is on Ladarius Gunter, but a handful of other guys will get their first chance to show whether they can bump Demetri Goodson off the team.
Bottom line, let's get out there with no significant injuries and a good first look at this team, with four more practice games to go.
Finally, on Favre's weekend. We don't like how things ended and it bugs us that, as reported, he requested that a Vikings jersey hangs alongside his Packer jersey at his Hall locker. I wonder whether he would have requested that had the Packers not already brought him back into the family and retired his number. It feels like a 'last laugh' situation. (Update: the Journal Sentinel is now reporting that Favre had nothing to do with the inclusion of the Vikings jersey--the folks in Canton made the call. Exhale, Packer fans). In the end, as the video that introduced him prior to his donning of the gold jacket, 'while he finished his career with a couple of other teams, he will always be remembered as a Packer.'
For 16 seasons, he was a constant presence and for many of those years he was the face of the NFL. We were fortunate to watch one of the all time great QBs week in and week out for 16 seasons. Knowing every week that he would be out there and that meant the Pack had a chance to win every time he stepped on the field.
We've waited a long time for Favre to have his moment. Let's put aside the ribbing from our purple clad, perennially disappointed fans from the land of 10,000 lakes and appreciate Favre for leading the Pack's return to greatness 20 years ago and for providing us with 16 years, of unforgettable football greatness.