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Packers: 5 Players or Positions to Watch vs Titans

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Packers: 5 Players or Positions to Watch vs Titans

It's been a long time since the Green Bay Packers have played in an NFL game, preseason or otherwise. But tonight, that months-long drought ends as the Packers will play host to the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field.

When it comes to preseason football, the outcome isn't really what matters, it's more of what happens on the field. Certainly, all eyes will be on some of the new free agents signed by the Packers, as well as some of the early draft picks and other young guys looking to take a leap. But due to some starters sitting out, like Aaron Rodgers, Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari, Green Bay can get some important evaluations at key positions, in addition to getting a look at its youngsters. 

With that in mind, here is a look at five players or positions you will want to keep an eye on tonight in the preseason opener vs the Titans.

Backup QB -- With Rodgers sitting out tonight, it provides a perfect chance to see how the backup quarterback battle is going between Deshone Kizer and Brett Hundley. You can tell the Packers are high on Kizer and that makes it feel like his roster spot is safer than Hundley's. If the new guy can prove he's just as good, Hundley could be released. Both guys are going to split reps along with rookie free agent Tim Boyle, who has impressed with his arm in camp. When it comes to QB's, game reps and production matters a lot, so tonight could go a long way in the race to be Aaron's No. 2.

Who will be the swing tackle? -- With both starting tackles out, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy are each getting a big opportunity to show what they can do. Last season, Murphy was better and held his own playing left tackle in a couple games. Right now, the swing tackle job is basically open for the taking and whoever shows more tonight could win it. Murphy makes sense as the backup right tackle, but in a pinch, I'd rather have him than Spriggs on the left side. Tonight could tell if that thinking should change at all or if Spriggs just needs to be done as a Packer cause he will never improve.

Josh Jackson -- The Packers have a lot of injuries in the secondary and some of the key guys are going to miss snaps. Veterans Tramon Williams and Davon House may be limited, along with Kevin King and Jaire Alexander. That sets the stage for Josh Jackson to make a good first impression. The second-round pick from Iowa has been working in the slot and has been playing better after a slow start to camp. He should play a lot both inside and outside tonight, as he competes against guys like Lenzy Pipkins, Josh Hawkins, Quinten Rollins and more for a spot in the rotation. Pipkins and Jackson are the two guys to watch carefully. Each could play significant snaps at some point this season.

Pass Rush - Another thing I want to see tonight is the pass rush. And the guys that I want to see are Vince Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert and the like. Someone has to step up behind Nick Perry and Clay Matthews this season. The interior pass rush is going to be very strong, but Green Bay still needs guys that can get home on the edge. Fackrell, in particular, needs to produce. He has shown flashes and it would be great if he could develop into a solid third rusher. If Biegel can elevate his game too, Green Bay might not be so bad on the edge. 

Josh Jones - Another guy to keep an eye on tonight is Josh Jones, the second round pick in 2017. Jones could be a starting safety for Green Bay this season but could also be playing as an inside linebacker in certain packages. He did that very well last season and picked up two sacks doing it against the Bengals. It will be interesting to see how Mike Pettine deploys him in this first game and how much he's used inside. He and Oren Burks are two guys capable of being the nickel linebacker and tonight could give us the first indication of how that is going to play out. 

 

 

 

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Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jonathan Spader's picture

I'll be watching Harold Landry on the Titan's as well. He was mocked as the 1st round selection to GB in a ton of drafts. I think people were pretty split on CHTV over love/hate with Landry due to injury concern. It'll be especially interesting to see how he stacks up to Jackson who was taken 4 picks later. Also looking forward to seeing the WR battle. Is it 7 PM yet?

Oppy's picture

What if the Packers had taken Barry Sanders instead of Tony Mandrich?
I can't do that to myself- it's water under the bridge for me- what's done is done.

Besides, do you compare Harold Landry to Josh Jackson, or Harold Landry to Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, and whatever the Saints' 1st round pick in 2019 nets the Packers?

Jonathan Spader's picture

Comparing Landry to Jackson. Sure we could have taken Landry at 14 but with the injury concern that's what caused him to drop. I'm not upset with how the draft turned out the past is the past what's done is done. Landry was just a draft crush of mine and I'm looking forward to seeing how he performs in Tennessee. Same way I look at the Watt King situation from last year.

Oppy's picture

I occasionally will follow guys who I crushed on in the draft but didn't become packers, but I could never put myself comparing them to the guy the Packers took "instead of" that guy. It's just an exercise in frustration to me.

cap'n kirk's picture

I'm most excited to see which WRs stand out.

I'm NOT excited to see what Spriggs can do (I've seen enough in camp/family night).

White _tornado's picture

I think Spriggs is in the wrong profession. Bullfighting might be more his thing. As quickly as he steps aside when a opposing defender nears , all that is missing is for him to shout " OLE' " as the defender passes by

The TKstinator's picture

I’ll be attending tonight’s contest, and I’ll keep an eye on things for us, as well as serving as an ambassador for CHTV.
I’ll be the violently handsome guy in the green t-shirt.

Bure9620's picture

"Violently Handsome" amazing
That could be stolen.....

Colin_C's picture

I doubt anyone else will be wearing green, so it should be easy to spot you on the broadcast. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Oppy's picture

Looking forward to hearing your take, TK.
With modern broadcasts, the fans never really know how plays actually unfold, because the cameras are glued to a tight shot of the tackle box until the QB throws the ball

Always great to be able to see the field. Have a blast!

The TKstinator's picture

Loved it, awesome.
MVS’s TD was muy impressive.
The faithful looked with favor on 45’s fumble recovery.
Speed of the game in person is blinding.
36 (the RB, not the DB) showed very quick feet.
Several plays I just watched Spriggs and he looked good on each one.
Had not been to a game at Lambeau in 38 years.
Every fan should put it on their bucket list.

Oppy's picture

Thanks, TK. Glad you made it back to Lambeau. Did you attended games at County Stadium between your Lambeau visits, or has it been a 38 stretch of zero games attended?

The stadium has changed a bit in 38 years, hasn't it.. I hope you took the time to thoroughly walk the stadium. Giant Lombardi Trophy in the atrium is a jaw dropper, much less the statues. Awesome place.

The TKstinator's picture

No County Stadium. Zero attended in 38 years! (Zillions of Brewer games attended at Miller Park ever since it opened; combo of geography and ticket availability.)
Lambeau is amazing! We also checked out Titletown; folks were rolling down the skihill. I thought they’d maybe break out some kind of grass toboggans. My daughter (age 21) thoroughly enjoyed, and after the game was a bit hoarse. We figured it just means she did it correctly.

Oppy's picture

It's crazy to see it and think it used to be a neighborhood! But it looks like they did a great job.

The TKstinator's picture

I wonder if there’s any way a single mom (or DAD, no sexism here) can earn $6k a month.

cheesehead1's picture

Looking to see Biegal make an impact. I know he was injured last year, but wasn’t impressed when he did get on the field, hardly noticed him. Also, hopefully Burks justifies Gutekunst trading up for him. Go Pack and no injuries.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I think TE is a position to watch. With Graham and Lewis, I think we'll be using more TE's than people think, and that means TE depth is even more important. TE Emanuel Byrd ended up on the Active Roster eventually last year, so does he start this year on the 53?

PatrickGB's picture

Thanks TK. Let us know your impressions. I am unable to see the game and will be on the way to Canada. It’s real hard to keep track of my favorite team. I rely on this site and on the learned commentary that I get here.

WKUPackFan's picture

Replay at 1:30am (EDT) Saturday on NFL Network. Have a safe trip to Canada!

Guam's picture

Not sure Marcedes Lewis will play much, but I am looking forward to seeing what he brings to both the running and passing games.

Maddygirl1's picture

I'm actually hoping our back up pass rushers like Gilbert, Fackrell and Biegel are HORRIBLE! Like, embarrassingly bad. So then Gute goes out and does what he needs to do to get one of the top 3 pass rushers in the league. MACK to GB. Imagine moving CM3 to fill in for Ryan (upgrade). Mack filling in for CM3 as a OLB (upgrade). Our front 7 would be elite level and would give our defense a real chance to be a top 10 defense. Then go get Erik Ried for cheap to fill in for Brice (assuming Ried focuses only on football in Green Bay).

Oppy's picture

imagine being able to pay Aaron Rodgers to stay in GB after 2019

Maddygirl1's picture

Picking up Mack won't inhibit extending Rodgers. Not with Mathews and Cobb coming off the books next year. Or at least signing for much cheaper. Also Dix and Bulaga could be argued they are well over paid and will be free agents next year. Won't be a problem.

Maddygirl1's picture

Heck, I could see Rodgers actually liking it if Gute tell him he's going after Mack! Shows Rodgers he wants to win another super bowl NOW, while we have our hall of fame qb in his prime! He might even not ask for quite as much if he knows Gute is committed to winning and doing EVERYTHING he can at all times to improve the roster.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I understand your logic, but I disagree. I actually like Matthews and Perry quite a bit, although I will say I like Mack, too. If we bring in Mack it will come at a cost, which means we probably lose Matthews and more in the future, so consider that.

Maddygirl1's picture

I actually like Mathews and Perry as well. But Mathews is getting older/slower. He just isn't the "hair on fire" young terror he was. It happens. Age is undefeated. That guy was a BEAST. I remember him chasing down RB's in the backfield when they ran away from him to the oppositie side he was set up on! And Perry flashes power and is very good against the run on the edge. But they both have a long history of injuries. Mack never missed a game, plus he's in a whole nuther class. in 4 years he won defensive player of the year, multiple pro-bowls and all-pro, playing both/either OLB and defensive lineman. CM3 used to make probowls, but hasn't come close the last few years. Do you think he's actually going to get better/faster with age??? And Perry hasn't even come close to pro-bowl. Mack is a gamechanger!

Ideally, Gute finds a way to keep both Perry and CM3 with Mack (I'd move Mathews in inside linebacker in place of Ryan and put Mack on the line. Signing Mack would improve TWO positions!). Then next year dump Mathews or restrcuture (if he's willing).

It is ultra rare that one of the best young players in the league and one of the most critical positions on defense even becomes available! Most all teams NEVER let those kind of players even wiff other teams. To me it's a no-brianer. And giving up a first rounder (or even two) is peanuts. He was a top pick just 4 years ago (I think he was taken 5th overall). To get a sure thing and an all-pro on defense for two late first round picks is an easy decision. Draft picks are a crap shoot. Mack is gauranteed.

Just my opinion. Praying to the football Gods tonight this happens.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm interested to see what the vanilla packages are on D and how the alignment s and gaps work.

Fordham Ram's picture

I think Rodgers would very much mind if you asked him to shave off millions when he is expecting a bundle. In the middle of negotiations no one likes getting blind sided. Seems like this Mack attack came out of no where.

BradHTX's picture

It HAS been a big Mack attack...

Maddygirl1's picture

They can move money around without shaving off millions. Aaron's idol Tom Brady has been doing that for years in New England so the team can stay compettive and sign some other top flight players. And Brady certainly is not an isolated case. Rodgers will make a lot of money. He knows that. Everyone knows that. But he also knows he wants more than 1 superbowl to cement his legacy.

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