Position Battle Finale

Well here we are, 7 days away from kicking off the 100th NFL season with the league’s two oldest teams.  There’s still quite a bit to watch for tonight, especially concerning the offensive line.  There’s fierce competition at the Guard spots as well as the Wide Receiving corps—LG incumbent Lane Taylor has found himself in a battle mainly because he’s above average, but he’s not that much better of an option than everyone else, but costs significantly more money…the writing is essentially on the wall.  However, the Packers are in good shape regarding the cap and still need depth at O-line, so we’ll see, I’d keep him.

Wide Receiver is a bit more intriguing because there seems to be decent depth.  There’s a chance they could keep 7 WRs, but if that happens it’s likely because Equanimeous St. Brown begins the season on IR.  Your Packer receiver, in order of depth (of what I believe SHOULD happen):

  1. Davante Adams #17
  2. Jake Kumerow #16
  3. Marques Valdez-Scantling #83
  4. Geronimo Allison #81
  5. Trevor Davis #11
  6. Allen Lazard #13
  7. Equanimeous St. Brown #19

I like Darrius Shepherd #10, but he’s 5’11” vs. Lazard who stands at 6’5”, so it’s likely Lazard makes the team vs. those two as Shepherd would be “easier to clear waivers” and to stash on the Practice Squad when Davis gets hurt.  Yes, when…dude gets hurt on arm-tackles.

Other than that, there’s not much else—OLB Reggie Gilbert was traded yesterday to the Tennessee Titans for a 7th round draft pick, which is nice to get a return when the guy was likely getting cut.  OLB is a position in a 3-4 defense where you can never have enough talent, but it’s obvious he was getting cut so keep an eye on who plays there tonight as those guys will (should) get every chance possible since we know the starters are the Smiths (Za’Darius #55 and Preston #91) are locked in starters.  Rookie Rashan Gary #52 needs to stop playing like the last guy that wore #52 and needs to play more like the last guy that wore #92…smh

“Dress Rehearsal”

What used to be known as the “Dress Rehearsal” for the regular season, has since shifted to Preseason Week 3. With the focus of head injuries (concussions) the last decade or so, the NFL has striped teams of practicing with full-contact nearly as often as they used to, which in return saves hits to the head/body, however the other side is that these guys don’t get their bodies used to taking such a pounding.  Without scientific evidence and an educated opinion developed from, what my wife would say is, watching too much football- I believe a lot of these injuries where guys get “banged up” is from not being used to it, or being over protective of their bodies.  I completely understand and agree with this, however the unwillingness to increase roster sizes and adjust IR (Injured Reserve) to better reflect Major League Baseball is irresponsible and enables teams to put out a worse product.

Okay okay, maybe that was a little too serious and meant for its own post.  Let’s get back to the game tonight, eh?  (Catch that reference?)  The Packers are taking on the Oakland “For now until we move to Las Vegas” Raiders, which also could be known as “Yes, we’re the team that decided trading Khalil Mack was the right move to rebuild, but only to follow that move up with adding a diva WR that’s over 30 and paying him a ton of money…”

I’ll keep reiterating what to watch for, or at least what I’m keeping my eye on.  Sadly, it’s become a story that many Packer fans feared, will Rashan Gary record a stat?  No, that’s not a typo, STAT is short for STATISTIC.  Like Kevin King (and Vince Biegel) will forever be graded against TJ Watt, Rashan Gary will forever be graded vs. Christian Wilkins (DT for the Dolphins, went 1 pick after Gary at 13th).  Gary looks the part, but has yet to literally do anything.  He needs to at least show he’s capable of something vs. and opponent in live action, even if that opponent won’t’ be on an NFL roster, because wretchedly that’d be an improvement…

The other items to lookout for is the timing of the 1’s on offense.  The issue here is if Rodgers doesn’t play, this is almost moot and a wasted opportunity.  I understand withholding him from playing, but if that’s the case, then why do any of the established starters (Adams, Bakhtiari, Linsley, and Bulaga) need to play?  Why risk injury if it’s not worth it?  Hell, those guys have a far better chance at ending up hurt than a QB, especially one that isn’t a runner.  Again, I’ll point to my first paragraph as to why these guys (Rodgers) likely won’t play.

So far the guys that have stood out to me in these preseason games have been Ty Summers (#44), Darrius Shepherd (#10), and Ka’Dar Hollman (#29).  Now, some other players have made some plays and looked good, but these are the types of guys (2nd year guys and rookies) that are becoming recognized.  Others have been playing well too, ala Allen Lazard (#13), so hopefully the Packers can get the entire 1st string offense (Rodgers included) a series or two vs. the Raiders’ 1st defense AND to get the young cats some looks vs. their 1st and 2nd defense too.  All in all, just look for positive consistency from the guys you don’t know.

Build Off/Toward Something

Well of the players I mentioned to watch, Oren Burks may have ended his season or at the very least suffered a potentially serious injury.  This opens the door for ILB next to Blake Martinez.  Ty Summers (#44) made the most of the opportunity and Passed the Test—and has essentially made the team by showcasing his potential that he belongs on an NFL roster.  Let’s keep in mind that everyone that played last Thursday was, at best, a back-up…preseason should be judged on not whether someone stands out in a positive sense, but if they look as if they don’t belong.  Meaning if they look slow, or weak, that’s more telling than looking great.  If a player can’t hold his own against back-ups (at best remember), then they don’t deserve to take up a roster spot.

Heading into the 2nd game of the preseason, the Packers’ starters are likely to get some action, which I believe is important in the sense of timing and getting live hitting action.  I’m also a firm believer that there’s (maybe not even a) fine line between getting used to hits (immunity?) and having too much live action.  Either way, more live reps can only help or LaFleur said he expects the (offensive) starters to play a “quarter or so.”

What should we watch for tonight?

  • Timing of the 1st string offense; rhythm.
  • Cole Madison—missed his entire rookie season last year with a personal issue. He played limited snaps last week and did not look good. Keep an eye on him, #61. Lots of potential and hope for him to help the OL.
  • Ka’Dar Hollman—had an INT and played well last week. Let’s see if he can build upon that performance.  Rookie corners can make an immediate impact to a team in the regular season. He wears #29.
  • Ty Summers—quickly shooting up the ranks of Packer training camp favorite. Again, he passed the first test, but if he continues to show he belongs he may end up winning a starting job.  #44.

Football is Back! kinda…

With the Brewers deciding a chance at the playoffs in 2019 is more important than winning a World Series or two in the next 4 years, let’s move on to the best sport ever….FOOTBALL!!!

The Packers kickoff the preseason tonight vs. the Houston Texans.  The Texans have been in Green Bay all week practicing against the Pack, which gives an added element.  The season preview will come later this month heading into the league opener, but as far as what to watch for tonight, always the Rookies and 2nd year guys.  I don’t get caught up in production or big plays as I do more on who seems to know the playbook and who’s playing with confidence (knowing where they’re going, what they’re supposed to do, etc.).

There are a boatload of rookies and 2nd year guys that’ll be playing tonight, and I have yet to see the Inactives, however these guys I’m really intrigued to see play:

  • #52 Rashan Gary (DE/LB)—he will forever be judged vs. Christian Wilkins (Mia- DT/DL) just as (deservedly so) Kevin King will be vs. TJ Watt.
  • #20 Kevin King (CB)—he’s not a 2nd year guy, however he’s hurt yet again and that’s some serious bull-shine (word borrowed from Czabe)!!!! He’s failing that grade vs. TJ Watt, big time.  The frustrating aspect of King is when he’s healthy, he’s shown why Thompson traded back to get him.
  • #37 Josh Jackson (CB/S)—2nd year man from Iowa (2 pick-6’s vs Wisc. Two years ago) needs to take advantage of his opportunity this camp, especially with King’s injury issues.
  • #42 Oren Burks (ILB)—speaking of opportunity, this seems like it could be a head-2-head competition with rookie ILB #44 Ty Summers. Burks was drafted because he can run and cover, as was Summers.  Hopefully one, or both, of these guys can step up to help Blake Martinez captain the middle of the Defense.

I could easily just list every rookie, but that’d be no fun, plus no one would really notice.  It’ll be tough to gauge the WRs without Rodgers playing tonight, so I won’t put too much stock into anything they do, good or bad.

If you’re watching tonight keep in mind the main thing is “no injuries.”