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Eagles vs. Packers: Saturday Scoop

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Eagles vs. Packers: Saturday Scoop

The Green Bay Packers open the home portion of their preseason schedule against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night and their slogan is "just stay healthy".  If it's not, it should be.  The Packers typically treat week three as the dress rehearsal for the regular season and play their starters through the first half.  After watching injuries to Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton last week alone, head coach Mike McCarthy is likely to sit most starters this week.  That means extended playing time for younger players and rookies, who need every snap to solidify their spot on this year's roster.  

With Rodgers and Tolzien both out, Brett Hundley will get the start and play most of the first half.  Matt Blanchard will close the game out.  Blanchard had started out ahead of Hundley on the depth chart during spring practices but an improved performance by Hundley has evened out the competition for the third quarterback spot.  

At receiver, Nelson is lost for the season and so the battle for the fourth and fifth spots remains open.  Myles White and Jeff Janis seem the most likely candidates to secure those, with previous experience in the offense.  Watch out for undrafted free agents Larry Pinkard or James Butler, who was just signed a few days ago.

Defensively, the cornerback battle continues with rookies Damarious Randle and Quinten Rollins looking to build on their first few games.  Randall saw his first action last week and had a nice interception, while Randall nearly had two the week prior.  If either can emerge and allow Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde to roam inside, that will likely mean a lot of good things for the Packers secondary.  Don't forget about LaDarius Gunter, who continues to make play after play in both practice and preseason games.  He's become hard to ignore and appears headed for the 53-man roster.

At linebacker, we'd love to see Clay Matthews get some time in, but don't count on it.  Young guys like Jake Ryan, Carl Bradford, Joe Thomas and Nate Palmer are all vying for a spot and need every snap.  Bradford is running out of time and it appears as if his size and speed may be his downfall.  Ryan has shown some athletic ability, but is it enough to grab a more regular spot next to Sam Barrington?  If one of those younger guys emerges, Matthews can roam outside opposite Julius Peppers and help the Packers defense elevate to one of the better units in the league.

On the defensive line, the Packers learned that they'll be without Letroy Guion for the first three weeks of the season.  His suspension was upheld after review.  Guion was slated to be on of the starters on the defensive front, along with B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels.  Against the Eagles, expect a heavy dose of Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, Christian Ringo, Khyri Thornton and Mike Pennel.  It's a battle for depth and playing time, at least in the first few games.  Thornton is in danger of getting the ax, just one year removed from having been a third-round pick.

Lastly are special teams, where guys like Aaron Ripkowski and Demetri Goodson are hoping to make their mark and stick on the final roster.  Rookie Kennard Backman can also make his presence known here and he may also benefit from a potential loss of Andrew Quarless, if Q receives a suspension for his part in a July 4th incident in Miami.  Rajion Neal has a very good chance at being the team's third running back, but he's also an option on kick return and should see a few reps there.  In the kicking game, punter Tim Masthay needs to figure out a way to wash the awful taste from his mouth that has been this offseason.  Masthay has not been very good in game action and is struggling to find any type of consistency.  He didn't kick as much last year, but the field position game is one of high importance and Masthay will be counted on to fix his woes.

As was previously mentioned and more importantly than any of these battles and storylines is the Packers' need to come out of this game against the Eagles healthy.  After last week, they have to be hoping the football Gods are on their side and give them a break.  After all, it's just over two weeks until week one's kickoff and the start of the 2015 regular season.

-- Jason is a freelance writer and has been on staff since 2012.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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LeagueObsrvr's picture

I'll be more focused on watching how the defense plays tonight up and down the depth chart. We already know what to expect from the offense, but of course, the number one priority is keeping the guys healthy. Go Pack!

Allan Murphy's picture

Wow this is bad 7 guys injured you can win like that it's hard to make the club when your all ways in the tub...............................................................................

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