One thing to watch for in each phase of the game as the Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the New Orleans Saints in the first regular season game of the 2011 NFL season…
- Offense: Though there’s only one new starter from a year ago, the Packers offensive line has to gel. New starter T.J. Lang has to settle in at left guard and get used to his new environs. Protecting Aaron Rodgers is paramount, and the offensive line didn’t do a very good job of it in the preseason giving up six sacks on Rodgers and several others on his backups. While the running game probably won’t be the difference between winning and losing, the Packers would benefit from getting a push in the ground game. The Saints acquired stalwart defensive lineman Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin in the offseason to go along with Sedrick Ellis. Having any sort of success against that defensive front would be a positive.
- Defense: The pass defense in general, and the secondary in particular, will have their hands full with quarterback Drew Brees and his array of weapons, even without the services of Lance Moore. Charles Woodson, despite losing a step, can’t get beat deep. He, along with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and the rest of the defensive backs must not let the Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and Jimmy Graham get behind them. Darren Sproles will be a threat out of the backfield as well.
- Special teams: After missing time in the final two preseason games with bruised knees, rookie return specialist Randall Cobb must be up to the task of returning punts on a big stage in the face of heavy pressure. Job number one will be ball security, but in order to be effective on the move, he can show few ill effects with his bum knees. The same goes for kick returns, if he has an opportunity to return any.
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