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Packers vs. Steelers: 5 Things to Watch for Preseason Week 2

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Packers vs. Steelers: 5 Things to Watch for Preseason Week 2

A Sunday trip to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers awaits the Green Bay Packers during the second week of the 2015 preseason. 

Here are five things to watch for Green Bay: 


1. Revving the Engines

When head coach Mike McCarthy wants something fixed, he typically goes to extraordinary lengths to make it happen. He’s clearly identified starting fast as one of his 2015 priorities, which is at least part of the reason why his starters could play another significant chunk of the game in Pittsburgh. No one expected Aaron Rodgers and the starting offense to play 33 snaps or throw the football 19 times in the opener. Who knows how much they’ll play Sunday. But Rodgers seems under the impression that playing more this preseason is by design, with the goal of getting a more crisp brand of football once the real games start. It feels a little like playing with fire, especially for an offense that returns nearly intact from 2014. How much do these snaps really matter? Just hope for no injuries.


2. Randall’s Debut

The Packers will get their first glimpse of first-round pick Damarious Randall, who will make his NFL debut Sunday after missing the first preseason week with a groin injury. He’ll hope to make the kind of first impression Quinten Rollins and Ladarius Gunter both provided in New England. There’s a temptation to think Randall is now behind the two young corners, but it’s still just the second week of the preseason. Snaps are there to be won behind Sam Shields. Randall, Rollins and Gunter are all still learning to play the position at the pro level. Pittsburgh’s deep, talented receiving group should give the entire young secondary a strong test. 


3. Blindside Barclay

One week after a dreadful return from ACL surgery, Don Barclay is headed back to the starting lineup—and his old collegiate position—against the Steelers. With David Bakhtiari resting his bothersome knee, the Packers are starting Barclay at left tackle, where he hasn’t played a live snap since starring at West Virginia. He allowed two sacks and looked overmatched at right tackle during his first game back last week, but the Packers don’t seem concerned about Barclay handling the left side or the seriousness of Bakhtiari’s problem. He can use the opportunity to continue cross-training along the offensive line. The worry here is that Barclay will continue to struggle, resulting in No. 12 taking some unnecessary punishment. The less you hear from Barclay Sunday, the better. 


4. Filling Out the Offense

The Packers starting offense is set in stone, but there’s work for general manager Ted Thompson to do at backup running back and tight end. Which youngster will backup Eddie Lacy and James Starks? Do the Packers keep both John Kuhn and rookie Aaron Ripkowski? Will a tight end emerge behind Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless? Raijon Neal and Justin Perillo look like slight favorites at running back and tight end, respectively, but there’s still so many preseason snaps left. I’ll be watching Kennard Backman and John Crockett. 


5. Sophomore Standouts

Defensive lineman Mike Pennel and linebacker Jayrone Elliott were both wrecking balls against the Patriots. Pennel should have a great opportunity to position himself as a major factor along the defensive line, while Elliott’s production is too much to ignore on the edge. Both are worth watching again in Pittsburgh. There’s also hope for Khyri Thornton, who flashed at times in New England. Now, the Packers need to see something from Carl Bradford. Many of Green Bay’s sophomores appear to have taken big jumps in their second year. Maybe Sunday can be Bradford’s coming out party.


Prediction: Packers 22, Steelers 16

The Packers are deep on defense, and the backup quarterbacks were efficient and confident in New England. That seems like a recipe for a preseason win. But once again, getting on the plane and returning to Green Bay with no major injuries is still the priority. 


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 (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

1. Don't care as long as no one gets hurt.

2. It would be nice to see Randall, Penell, and the young LBs play well.

3. Don't care, as long as there are no injuries.

Since '61's picture

Bearmeat - I agree with your #1 &#3.
My #2 is - Don't care as long as no one gets hurt.

Thanks, Since '61

EdsLaces's picture

Keep playin well 47 we need ya.

Mojo's picture

I predict Don Barclay will be among the team leaders in tackles tomorrow. Sorry, but there is no way he should be starting at LT. He has no lateral quickness. Speed rushers will kill him. He's a mauler, pretty good run blocker, but not a LT, much less the starter. I like him as a backup, but not at LT. A position(backup tackles) which by the way, the Packers need to address in the future.

That said, all the o-lineman should tackle anyone who gets by them during this preseason. Seriously. We can get by with injuries in most positions, but if 12 goes down, the seasons over.

I understand MM wants to get off to a fast start this year, and that would be great, but haven't we won the division and gotten into the playoffs even with our slow starts the last three seasons?

My preference would be to play the scrubs against the other teams starters throughout the preseason. Then you should be able to get a long look and a better idea as who to keep at the tail-end of the roster. Throw your starters in there for a series or two a game just to knock the rust off, but that's it. I already know ARod can play in this league. It would be much more interesting to me to see how the new and improved Tolzien does against Pittsburg's 1's. And so on and so on.

Veterans are already aware of game speed. They don't need this as much as the newbies. You only get a limited amount of snaps in an NFL career, why waste them here.

aj's picture

I expect tomorrow will be a game to evaluate both the TE's and the RB's in the pass blocking department. MM and TT know how valuable Rodgers is and the deficiencies of Barclay's game. They'll do their best to protect Rodgers.

Turophile's picture

I would like to see Vujnovich at LT instead of Barclay, he is listed as second LT on the Packers depth chart.

I am also looking at RB Alonzo Harris. To me, he looked the best backup against the Pats. He's a big strong dude (listed 237lbs). John Crockett didn't look bad either, once he'd had a few snaps. Neither have the speed of Rajion Neal, but might be better RBs.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Someone please explain to me or help ease my mind on why coach MM is starting Barclay at LT? Maybe Rodgers won't play - or won't play more than 1 or 2 series.

Since '61's picture

I would prefer if the Packers start either Tolzien or Hundley at QB vs the Steelers. That way Rodgers is not at risk playing behind Barclay. It's only preseason, no reason to put Rodgers at risk. Thanks, Since '61

cheesehead1's picture

Would like to see Kennard Backman step it up. Never been a fan of Quarless......But the main thing is, avoid injuries.

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