Five Things To Watch For the Rest Of the Packers Season

Green Bay still faces the Eagles, Bears, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, and Lions

The Green Bay Packers have, according to the website Five Thirty Eight, a 6% chance of making the playoffs. That's not realistic, to say the least. Even considering this will not be a championship year for the Packers, there are still things to watch and analyze thinking about the future of the team. Therefore, let's talk about five important aspects for Packers fans to keep an eye on in the last six games of the season:

Aaron + Aaron (because who knows)
Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones have contracts beyond 2022, but it's impossible to say right now that they will play for the Packers in 2023. Rodgers' future is, as he would like to say, a "beautiful mystery". The quarterback has frequently mentioned that he won't commit to future seasons, and his plans will be decided on a yearly basis. The Packers may also influence that decision, too, because Jordan Love is going to the final year of his rookie deal, unless the Packers pick his fifth-year option this offseason.

Regarding Jones, he is under contract through 2024, but his contract is a hard pill to swallow for a potential rebuilding team. Next year, Jones' cap hit is $ 20.02 million, and it goes down to $ 16.02 million in 2024. Considering Jones has been the Packers best offensive weapon, it's fair to expect that the Packers will try and extend the running back, or at least restructure him (which seems to be the most likely scenario at this point).

Whichever the future decisions will be, Packers fans may face the reality of losing two of their best offensive players — including their Hall of Fame quarterback. As we don't know how things will shake out, it's important to take a step back and appreciate what those two players have done for the franchise — and these six games are a good opportunity to do so.

Watson and Doubs together and healthy
The Packers might have found two real wide receivers in the past draft. But they haven't played significant time together yet. Christian Watson suffered three minor injuries to start the year, which caused a slow start to his NFL career. Meanwhile, Romeo Doubs was playing at an impressive high-level for a rookie fourth-round pick. But then Doubs hurt his ankle against the Detroit Lions, and Watson started to find his groove — he had five touchdowns in his last two games.

We still don't know exactly when Doubs will return, but the fact the Packers didn't place him on IR indicates they think it will be soon. Therefore, the final games of the season will be a perfect scenario to see the young receivers shine and develop.

Young front seven pieces
When the Packers are mathematically eliminated from contention, you might see a direction shift. The coaching staff will use more young players and use the final games to test pieces who may or may not be a part of the future. That is particularly interesting for the defensive front, considering how much the Packers invested in it in the past two years. Quay Walker is already a full-time starter, but Krys Barnes is in the final year of his undrafted rookie deal — so he will be a restricted free agent in March. Moreover, last year's sixth-round pick Isaiah McDuffie has shown good signs of development.

The defensive line is even more important, because the Packers drafted two D-linemen this year and they haven't had as many snaps as you would like — first-rounder Devonte Wyatt and seventh-rounder Jonathan Ford.

As soon as the Packers are officially eliminated, those players will probably get more snaps over veterans like Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed.

The future at safety
The safety position is a mystery for the Packers moving forward. Darnell Savage has a fully-guaranteed fifth-year option picked up for 2023, so he will be around. But the only other safeties under contract beyond this year are Vernon Scott and Tariq Carpenter. Adrian Amos, Rudy Ford, Dallin Leavitt, and Johnathan Abram will have some time to show their value to get an extension.

Amos, in particular, is an important consideration. He's been one of the best defensive players for the Packers in the Matt LaFleur era, but he declined in performance this year and is 29 years old. There are contractual considerations too, and it might be cheaper to keep him than to let him go, but everything depends on his performance and what the Packers plans are for future seasons.

Who stays in the offensive line?
David Bakhtiari still has two more years under contract beyond this season, so he'll probably be around if his knee allows it. However, there are still question marks for the future at tackle for Green Bay. Both Elgton Jenkins (who was thought to be the long-term RT) and Yosh Nijman (who appears to be the real future at RT) are free agents. Those final six games are important to see them perform and to define their market value.

Jenkins is for sure the more complicated situation. He hasn't been the same after his knee injury, and the experience at right tackle was a failure. He's been better at LG, but still not at his natural level. His market will depend on how the Packers and other teams see him — guard or tackle — and how his knee will be.
 

Nijman is an easier proposition because he will be a restricted free agent. Therefore, the Packers have the option to place a first or second-round tender on him — I wouldn't expect just the tender of rights of first refusal, because that would open the door for a market competition, and there would be no compensation if he leaves. The tender is an important cap hit, but it protects the Packers in case another team signs Nijman to an offer sheet. I wouldn't rule out a long-term extension either, because it would be a smart strategy to secure Nijman for future seasons and also a way to decrease his cap hit in 2023. 

Packers final games of the season:
11/27 at Philadelphia Eagles
12/4 at Chicago Bears
12/19 vs Los Angeles Rams
12/25 at Miami Dolphins
1/1 vs Minnesota Vikings
1/8 vs Detroit Lions

Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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Comments (46)

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T7Steve's picture

November 21, 2022 at 10:54 am

Have to start by anchoring the O and D lines. If those aren't set, as we've seen this year, the rest doesn't matter. A great O-line allows you to have a game manager for a QB to start with and grow into something better. A great D-line covers for weakness behind it and will improve their chances for success.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:05 am

T7, I agree and every year no matter how badly the Packers need a WR there is always a need for a big body player on O, and on D. It is hard to pass on good lineman because it all starts in the trenches.

Once again the Packers could still use a top WR in the draft to go with Watson, Doubs, and Toure. However, they have real needs at about every position on the team. Going to be fascinating to see where they end up picking and see what they do. Right now I'm leaning towards a pass rushing Edge, or possibly a LT. The remaining games will likely answer the question where the biggest need is at.

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PeteK's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:08 am

--Unfortunately, Bak should be released post 6/1 for a 17 mill savings. T should be drafted.
-- Rodgers will be too expensive to release,/retire but maybe should restructure for team benefit. hahaha.
--At the least Love should start last 3 games.
---Rookie WR are progressing and should be even better next year.
---A restart could work out differently next season. Especially with a new DC.

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mnbadger's picture

November 21, 2022 at 12:26 pm

and new HC.
GPG!

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croatpackfan's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:17 am

Wendell, I sgree with you on many points here. Regarding OL, I'll try to keep Jenkins as LG. I would try to extend Nijman, but not as RT exclusively. We need to see how Zach Tom will develop. Will he be able to bulk up and strength up? That would make him true heir of David Bakhtiari. I would try to trade David (better one year early than one year late), to release pressure on SC. We have interesting RB on PS who can replace Aaron Jones, maybe not immediately, or completely, but RBs gems can be found in later rounds every draft. That will help SC, too. Before you call Nijman RT I would like to see what Walker or Jones can do at that position. I believe Packers are good at OL for the future.

Many articles here rarely mention Toure as good WR. He showed, in few opportunities he got, that he is maybe the best polished route runner of all rookie WRs. And he is constantly open. So Packers might need WR more like Watson for development.

Packers will need more pass rushers, new CBs, safeties and TE. TE is maybe the most needed position Packers should fill.

Unfortunately, we can not expect any significant trade or FA help next year.

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Rarescope's picture

November 21, 2022 at 12:33 pm

I agree on Toure. Heard a quote from Rodgers saying that Toure wasn't showing enough after catch effort during practice or something like that. Hopefully he gets over that as I'd much rather see him than Watkins out there who looks like he's running through mashed potatoes.

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:55 pm

Let's fire Aaron Rodgers as head coach, GM of personnel, and quarterback -- then see what these other guys can do without him.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 21, 2022 at 02:23 pm

"Unfortunately, we can not expect any significant trade or FA help next year."

I'm not sure that's 100% accurate. Right now, we're only about $3.5 million over the projected cap for next year. We could move Bakhtiari and Jones and gain over $30 million in cap relief.

It's all about choices, as always.

"Packers will need more pass rushers, new CBs, safeties and TE."

We're returning Gary, Smith, Garvin, and Enagbare. That's our edge rusher rotation. Our three starting CBs return, plus Nixon. Ford is a FA but shouldn't break the bank and he'll replace Amos. Savage is still under contract.. We still have Shemar.''

On TE, we agree. I wouldn't bring back Lewis or Tonyan and I'd get some help in the draft.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:17 am

LH,
Agree on all points! However, I will say neither Tonyan or Jenkins look close to their former selves following knee surgery. It takes time! The fact these 2 are not looking great this season may benefit the team allowing the Packers to resign without paying at market price. Tonyan in particular has not looked very explosive. TE should be a major need in the draft but there are so many other needs. If the Pack could resign Tonyan at a reasonable salary I'd be for it with the hope he regains mobility and explosiveness. This is why I was surprised the Packers didn't trade for T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings only gave up a 2nd round in 2023, and a 3rd in 2024. In the meantime, the Vikings are using Hockenson for more than half a season (purely to benefit of Vikings) in their Super Bowl run. Very smart trade by Vikings. They get Hockenson free this year.

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cheesehead1's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:35 am

Start by showing Barry the door. For all the talent and hype, this D has badly underperformed. The last elite D we had was 2010.

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wildbill's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:58 am

And of course won a Super Bowl. Starting in 1961 the Packers have never won a championship without a top five defense, just saying…

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 21, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Prying my fingers from my eyes is all I can handle for the rest of this season.

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 21, 2022 at 03:48 pm

Indeed. No matter how strong Wendell's internet presence is, he cannot make us watch the Packers.

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:52 pm

Put Love out there with our young wide receivers, aided by our current top running backs in Jones and Dillon, maybe put Lazard at tight end, bring up Tyler Goodson and maybe try him as a slot receiver -- and it would at least be intriguing, possibly enjoyable.
Plus, let the defense loose more often, not recklessly but with disciplined and strategic aggressiveness, and see what Abernathy can do.
Play hard and smart, have fun -- remember this is the great game of football, after all -- and let's see what happens.
Your ears may catch some signals of excitement emanating from the screen, and your fingers may widen spontaneously to get a glimpse of new and hopeful era.

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 21, 2022 at 05:05 pm

I get it, but the cost of splitting the locker room will be dear, and I think most of us know who the veterans will support. Let me know when a player, any player, speaks out, with his name attached to it, that he wants Love to start, and Rodgers benched. Also, not using the thumb as reason, but because making the needed run, the odds are with Love.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:19 am

LOL!

Love it!

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Fubared's picture

November 21, 2022 at 12:15 pm

I would find it hard to believe that most pack fans on this board wouldnt agree with me that this team is a "dumpster fire". I dont even know where you would begin to fix things.
1. Special teams improved somewhat. Whoopee!
2. Run game works until the red zone.
3. passing game doesnt exist and QB sometimes doesnt either.
4. Pass rush is avg at best and thats with Gary.
5. Run D, do we have a run d
6. Pass D is the worst in football. Its just got awful. Cant remember the last time this team got a three and out.
Sadly one draft aint fixing this mess. too much to fix and no money or picks to do it.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Change the Safeties. Solution. Rd.1- Johnson, rd. 3 chris Smith, and JLskinner is the hitter.
Keep Jones per 20 mil. Don't pay Love 20. mil.
Rodgers knows who the Wrs are. I doubt he objects. As long as Cobb comes back. The best Wr in the draft will be Rashes rice smu.
The OL. Adam Stenavich should have been fired. Hanson was the Joke. And with Failure from everyone. Who could blame Gute if he got rid of the whole OL. But this wasn't a sprint. The better players have prevailed. THIS IS A HOLD!

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Leatherhead's picture

November 21, 2022 at 02:15 pm

So, an old, over the hill QB, get rid of the guy we spent three years developing, play two rookies at safety.....that's your plan?

Good luck with that.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 05:53 pm

What development? He hasn't showed it. You have to pay Love 20 mil.-- for a bench warmer.
Who replaces SAVAGE? You get a comp pick letting him go.
And why are you going to pay Amos @29. Who can't stay on a TE? He's regressed.
The plan is to get 1. The others are too good not to draft.
Because after Amos and Savage there has been a Depth problem.
You can't buy a FA. And still pay the OL. Not to mention Dillion etc.
The packers have talent. They want to be paid. We can't afford them. And they are playing not to get hurt!

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 01:52 pm

Bench Rodgers and see how the offense does without a domineering and discouraging quarterback.
Fire Barry and see how the defense does being more aggressive.
That would make the last several games of the season a lot more fun to watch.
Instead of being more of the same old misery, it would be the possibility of a new era of success.
***
It seems there's a lot of talent on this team, and the rebuild may not be as daunting as it seems.
Let's start to find out with a fresh and promising young quarterback, and with a more daring defense.
Make the rest of 2022 an exciting stretch of seeing who really wants to compete to be a part of the future for the Packers.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:01 pm

Argument - Put 50 mil. on the Bench. Every GM would disagree.
Can't fire Barry and blame Rodgers. Until the defense changes its front. Every team will shove the ball down our throats.
The future is for the Young!!!!

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:34 pm

Firing Barry would be a way to see if our defensive front is being utilized properly, as well as the rest of our soft and underperforming defense. Let's see if we can toughen up against the run, and the short passing game.
***
Love is young. Rodges is old, and also cranky.
***
I appreciate your comment, stockholder.

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Lphill's picture

November 21, 2022 at 01:58 pm

the Packers have many good players , they all didn't become bad overnight , its coaching plain and simple on offense and defense , special teams is an improvement but until they replace Crosby who should have been replaced already, they won't get to the next level.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 21, 2022 at 02:13 pm

I see the Bakhtiari situation differently. If we traded him it would knock off $17 million that we owe him, since we wouldn't have to pay his salary, roster bonus, or workout bonus. It would reduce his cap hit from $29 million to about $12 million.

Jenkins injury has saved the Packers a lot of money, and IMO, we'll resign him. He's a young, proven veteran who can play several spots and you don't throw guys like that away if you can help it. Nothing works on offense unless people get blocked.

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T7Steve's picture

November 21, 2022 at 02:49 pm

If Bakh can play at his previous level by the end of the season, keep him. Top LTs are getting paid and don't grow on trees. It will give them time to keep developing more depth and future possibilities. If they don't have a proven LT it's quite a step back even with Nij. Don't know what's going on with Caleb Jones but he's promising along with Tom as projects.

Maybe they can sign EJ on a prove it deal like they did Tonyan, but if he continues improving this year some team will make him a big offer (look at the team directly to the south with real O-line problems and previous GB coaching on the staff).

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Leatherhead's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:59 pm

"If Bakh can play at his previous level by the end of the season, keep him. "

I thought about this, but ultimately had to decide against it. It's not just a question of Bakh being a good, or really good, LT. Even if we knew he'd be able to play most of the games.

First, we do have other guys who can play that position, for a lot less money, starting with Nijman, who played damn well at that spot.

Second, we are going to have to cut somewhere if we're going to have any room under the salary cap, and it seems to me we'd be better off cutting over $30 million by moving Bakhtiari and Jones....both of whom would probably bring draft picks, as well. It's a lot better than the Death of 1000 cuts where we try to save smaller amounts and end up cutting more people.

There simply isn't much room. Rodgers is the big drain, unless he retires. After that, we can carve out $30 million by trading two players. After that, we're looking at Clark, Gary, Alexander, PSmith, and Campbell.

Amos is a FA. Savage could be released or traded and we could save $8 million, but that's another hole to fill then. We could save about $5 million by moving Rasul Douglas, but that's another hole to fill.

After that, we're looking at people on rookie contracts and there just isn't a lot of money to be saved by releasing them.

IMO, the smart move is to trade Bakhtiari and Jones and use that money to extend Jenkins and Lazard. And Ford, who is also a FA after this season.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:23 pm

Amos, Lazard, Savage, Lowry, are gone. { Nijman is a RFA. - Depends on Jenkins.} Rodgers retires? Bahk is gone.
Along with Crosby, Tonyan ,and Lewis. If we go rebuild.- Expect a Fire sale. Murphy will retire and Gutey will become your CEO.

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splitpea1's picture

November 21, 2022 at 03:26 pm

The biggest thing to watch for is whether or not the coaching staff is mentally flexible enough to change their approaches on offense and defense--instead of continuing to do what doesn't work.

The future of the safety position is mostly in the draft. Ford, however, has shown his value and should be resigned if possible.

As soon as we are mathematically eliminated, there is no reason not to give Love and Wyatt ample playing time.

Speaking of not being their old selves, what about Tonyan? The Packers find a consistent and dependable weapon at this position--it's long, long overdue.

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 05:12 pm

Why is it, again, that Lazard wouldn't make for a top tight end?

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splitpea1's picture

November 21, 2022 at 05:50 pm

He'd have to put on weight, as most TEs are in the 250 lb. range. How effective would he be at blocking more difficult assignments? How would extra weight affect his speed? He's also indicated in the past that he would prefer to be WR.

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:25 pm

Why do tight ends have to be 250 pounds?
How would the blocking assignments of Lazard change if he goes from wide receiver to tight end? What does Travis Kelce do as a blocker that Lazard couldn't do? Is it true that George Kittle weighs about the same as Lazard?
There might be a great reason for Lazard not to be a tight end, but is there any possibility he could be a pioneer in redefining the position for the better (without having to bulk up)?
Plus, it seems there are two or three different kinds of tight ends these days.
Perhaps Lazard would be excited to go from a WR2 or WR3 to a TE1?

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:28 am

They missed a real opportunity to get Fant from Denver, and particularly missed on good opportunity to get Hockenson for a measly 2nd pick in 2023, and a 3rd in 2024. Would have solved a lot for offense.

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fangirl's picture

November 21, 2022 at 03:31 pm

I liked that the author of this article asked that GB fans thank both Aaron R and Aaron J for their contributions.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:07 pm

"Five Things To Watch For the Rest Of the Packers Season":

1) Old Yeller

2) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

3) Deliverance

4) The Big Lebowski

5) Christmas Story

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:23 pm

You know who I feel sorry for the most?

#12's doppelganger who resides in Germany...it just ain't fair.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:35 pm

Okay, I must apologize up front. What I am about to throw down is only a reflection of me and not the two characters I will be introducing you to shortly

Secondly, these two characters have accomplished more than I could ever in my 3 lifetimes....

Ah, okay...... :

I would like to introduce you to #12 and Coach LaF. I cannot get the image out my head of them playing the main characters in Dumb and Dumber; #12 is steering the moped (w/o snow tires...so slipping to & fro) and Coach LaF is hanging on so tight to #12. Snot rods and all....

My big ol sexy belly is getting a workout from all the chuckling....I am easily amused.

>^••^<

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:30 am

Pants, humor is always good but particularly in 2022.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 22, 2022 at 10:31 am

Thanks Knock, animals/nature and humor keep me sane, with added levity...(as much as possible anyways)

Hope your day rocks!

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Swisch's picture

November 21, 2022 at 04:58 pm

Just a thought: It may be a better dynamic at CHTV with fewer articles so that each article gets more comments from fans (as it has been the past couple of days).

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Johnblood27's picture

November 21, 2022 at 05:46 pm

I wouldnt mind seeing a fresh approach with the OL.

Myers has been average at best. let's see what Zack tom can do in the middle, he played it in college and he has shown nfl level playing ability. GB has less need at T and more at C, IMO.

if Bakh must go for SC reasons, NIjman goes to LT and Walker/Jones get opportunity at rT. I personally liked what i saw in walker at the tail end of tc. Jones might have mobility issues with nfl level speed/power guys which are a step above tc competition he faced and looked ok vs.

I like jenkins and runyon at guard, lock them in and let it roll.

newman and hanson just need to go to the texans where they can play. they have no business at all on the gbp ol.

a couple draft picks, one at g - a real guard - and a tackle prospect in the late rounds would be just fine, no need for 3 this year.

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CheesyTex's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:22 pm

Well said. The talent is there for a strong OL. I've wondered whether or not they might try Jones at G (f Jenkins signs elsewhere) where mobility issues would be less of an issue.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:25 pm

Pff graded the IOL as the weakest part of the OL against Tenn.

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Johnblood27's picture

November 21, 2022 at 09:00 pm

PFF can SMD

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:34 am

With Jones weight loss wonder about his foot speed if he lost just a little more? Then working all offseason with a trainer working on moving laterally. The talent is there...very close!

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Starrbrite's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:48 pm

As we go forward I’ll be scrutinizing the injury report.
Let’s see what intestinal fortitude this team exhibits if/when the losses persist.
How many players will be reported as “questionable to return?”
How players will be added to IR?
How long before Sammy W. blows his hammy or twists his ankle?

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