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Packers vs. Patriots: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction for Preseason Week 1

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Packers vs. Patriots: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction for Preseason Week 1

The Green Bay Packers will open up the 2015 preseason slate with a trip to New England to take on the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots. 

Here’s five things to watch and a prediction for Green Bay in Preseason Week 1:

 

1. How Much Will the Starters Play? 

Mike McCarthy said Tuesday his goal is to play everyone who makes the trip to New England, which seems to indicate that the Packers starters will get some run in the opener. McCarthy hasn’t been consistent in how much he plays his starters in the first exhibition, so it’s still anyone’s best guess on how many snaps the top of the roster will see. Rodgers said the Packers will go with the starters for “a little while.” Preseason reps are still necessary for the first-team offense and defense, but the primary goal of any exhibition game is to come out healthy. Don’t expect much from the starters. Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels and Eddie Lacy might be among those who sit out. 

 

2. Will the Receiver Hype Trains Gain Momentum? 

Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery have been stars of the summer, with Adams lighting up OTAs and mini camp (plus making a circus catch during Family Night) and Montgomery impressing daily at training camp. Now, the pair of young receivers will have the opportunity to build more momentum in the preseason opener. Adams should get a decent look early, while Montgomery will get his share of snaps both within the offense and on special teams. The hype will get out of control if the two can continue making plays in New England. 

 

3. Which Bubble Players Will Step Up?

Namely Khyri Thornton and Carl Bradford, two draft picks from last year. Given the suspension issues hampering the defensive line, Thornton should have a tremendous opportunity to win a job within the line rotation. But the Packers won’t just give him a spot because he’s a third-round pick. At some point, he’ll need to prove he belongs at the NFL level. The same goes for Bradford, a fourth-rounder from 2014. He hasn’t done anything this summer to suggest he’s capable of filling the hole at inside linebacker. The pair need to put something positive on tape this preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. That mission begins Thursday.

 

4. How Will the Young Secondary Handle its First Test?

First-round pick Damarious Randall is dealing with a groin injury, but he hasn’t been ruled out. The rest of the secondary should still provide plenty of intrigue. Second-rounder Quinten Rollins will get his first live action, while Ladarius Gunter—an early star of camp—should also see plenty of work. It’s not known if Tom Brady will even play for New England, but Jimmy Garoppolo—his preseason backup and the Patriots assumed starter during Brady’s suspension—should handle most of the contest. He’s mostly untested, but he’ll give the young Green Bay secondary a good look in the opener. 

 

5a. Have the Special Teams Improved?

The first exhibition game may not provide many answers on special teams, where players will be mixed and matched throughout the contest. Still, the Packers will want to see some kind of progress for the unit that helped cost Green Bay a trip to the Super Bowl last January. Maybe New England will throw a trick play or two at Ron Zook’s unit. It’d be comforting for the Packers to handle a special teams fake or an onside kick. Old wounds must eventually heal. 

 

5b: Will We See Any Changes on Offense? 

Tom Clements will call plays for the first time since McCarthy delegated the task this offseason. As the club has said all offseason, don’t expect huge alterations. The mechanics are different, but the aesthetics shouldn’t be. 

 

5c: How Will the Backup QBs Look?

Rodgers will likely play a series or two at most, leaving the rest of the contest to the three backups. The Packers have raved about the development of Scott Tolzien. He’s now the solid No. 2. Thursday allows him a chance to make a good first impression in a live game setting. Fifth-round pick Brett Hundley and former UW-Whitewater quarterback Matt Blanchard should get plenty of second-half snaps. 

 

Prediction: Packers 16, Patriots 13

The score here is irrelevant. The key for Thursday night: No injuries. Green Bay will leave New England overwhelming winners if Dr. Pat McKenzie has a quiet night. 

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

If the score is Packers 0 Pats 400 and Rodgers throws a pick. I won't care. I just want no injuries and to see the young guys on defense step up and Masthay punt well. That's it.

NewNikeShoes's picture

haha but if the pats get 400 that means our d is pretty bad

croatpackfan's picture

No, that result will mean that Cheatriots again cheats....

Icebowler's picture

For camp motivation purposes, I think it's somehow advantageous to actually lose the first pre-season game.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Khyri Thornton and Carl Bradford...

Not gonna happen.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm starting to think the same thing but you never know..... Just think if those two DID turn the corner, what a draft the 2014 class would be!!!

DrealynWilliams's picture

Still holding out hope for Bradford. But, Thorton? I've yet to hear/read anything about him during camp/practice. Is he just taking up space?

Mojo's picture

I predict, after a few series by the starters, the game quickly devolves into a penalty ridden, blown assignment, turnover plagued dull-fest by both teams.

There will be a lot of movement penalties, third and twenties, quick slants bouncing off hands and drives ending in INT's. This is not a knock against two of the NFL's best, but what I have noticed in watching exhibition games played mostly with scrubs, over the years.

As far as personnel, it's basically who will be second or third string on the depth chart for the O. Not so much for the D. There are a number of players set in stone as starters at this point - Ha Ha, Burnett, Daniels, CM3, Barrington, Shields, maybe Raji and Peppers. The other positions have frontrunners, but you could easily make a case for someone else.

I have no idea who will be the starting OLB opposite Peppers if CM3 is inside. The corner opposite Shields will probably be Hayward, but who knows. On O there's a few question marks down the depth chart, but for the D they're all over the place. Guess we'll find out after the next four games.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I am a bit surprised by Zach's comments, as someone who has read every twitter blog I can find on the offseason work outs so far. I gathered Adams impressed during OTAs but actually read another beat writer suggest that he had been quiet during TC so far until the one-handed catch. I certainly read a number of good comments about Tolzien, with just a couple of less flattering ones, but I had understood that the coaches were reasonably pleased with Tolzien, not that the coaches were raving about him.

Be that as it may, happy to have Zach's opinion, hope his assessments are correct, and I am very happy to see an article written by him here on cheeseheadtv.

Tundraboy's picture

Well done. I'll be thrilled with no serious injuries or blunders.

The TKstinator's picture

Can't believe the lack of buzz surrounding the electrifying new PAT rules.

dobber's picture

"Prediction: Packers 16, Patriots 13"

Prediction: Beer o'clock arrives just in time as green-and-gold football finally resurfaces...

Duke Divine's picture

I love watching and analyzing the Packers in these games. They may be meaningless to most but not to a die hard that spends way too much time reading Packers info every single day. Jayrone Elliot and Mike Pennel were fun to watch last year as was Flynn Vs Scotty T. I'm excited to see who steps up this year. Also, there were even odds on the PAckers to score first even after it was announced that Brady wasnt going to play so guess who's in for some easy money?!?! Go Pack!

EdsLaces's picture

Let's go up in here! So excited to see actual live action! Carl Bradford,Montgomery, Rollins and Mulumba my players to watch! Oh and the backup Tight Ends..

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