Packers vs. Steelers: Saturday Scoop

A look at some of the top stories and headlines heading into the Packers preseason week two game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Green Bay Packers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers tomorrow in a rare preseason day game.  Kickoff is 1pm EDT and mimics the usual 12pm kickoff time during the regular season.  Head coach Mike McCarthy, who loves routine, had to be grinning when this game was moved to a daytime start to accommodate the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will be playing a night game.  This gave McCarthy the chance to put his team through a very close approximation of what they'll experience during the regular season.  There's no substitute for the real thing, but this is as close to that as the Packers can get as far as scheduling goes.

Saturday Scoop is meant to be a last look at the Packers' upcoming game.  A few last thoughts and nuggets to share.  With that, here are a few of the headlines or stories to watch for.

Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari will sit out this week after suffering a knee injury.  Bakhtiari says he's not concerned about the injury long term and McCarthy echoed those thoughts during a few chats with the media last week.  Don Barclay will start at left tackle, in Bakhtiari's place.  Barclay spent the 2013 season as the Packers' right tackle after Bryan Bulaga was injured in preseason.  He has never played on the left side.  Barclay's strength is run blocking.  He's far less effective as a pass blocker but even though he's protecting Aaron Rodgers' blind side, Rodgers says he's not worried.  I agree.

While some may be asking why the team isn't moving Bulaga to left tackle or trying a different combination of blockers similar to what we would see during the regular season, this move seems to signal good things.  If the Packers felt that Bakhtiari would be out long-term, they likely would be doing more shuffling.  Sticking Barclay out there says to me that Bakhtiari will be back sooner than later.  Say what you will about Bakh (and many have over the last week), he's the team's best option at left tackle and his return would be a welcome sight.  Let's just hope the Steelers aren't still carrying around any type of grudge and out to get Rodgers, who last faced them in Super Bowl XLV and had an MVP day enroute to a championship.

In other news, as each week passes by, some of the rookies and undrafted free agents find each snap more and more valuable to prove their worth.  Cornerback LaDarius Gunter seems well on his way to earning a roster spot, but he could use another strong game or two to put the final touches on his campaign.  Linebacker Carl Bradford needs to do show up on the film.  He's fighting Nate Palmer and Joe Thomas for a spot on the depth chart and if he wants to be more than a special teamer, he needs to start making plays on defense now.  Thomas had a strong start to camp and has been quiet the past week.  He could use a few eyebrow raising moments this week but Thomas, like Gunter, seems more likely to stick than not.  Outside linebacker Andy Mulumba had a few nice plays against the New England Patriots and while he seems likely to stay on, his spot on the depth chart is still a bit of a question mark.

Cornerback Quinten Rollins and linebacker Jake Ryan are absolute locks to make this year's team and look to add a second-straight solid performance against the Steelers.  Rollins nearly had two interceptions against the Patriots and Ryan seemed comfortable in his role.  Ryan also had a nice pass break up in practice this week on a deeper pass along the sideline.  That would be a sight for sore eyes from the inside linebacker position and would add a really nice dimension to the defensive side of the ball.  Rollins had a few tough moments in practice earlier this week, but his game play last week spoke volumes about who he can be.  That has to have the Packers excited.

Offensively, look for the Packers to keep it vanilla and move the ball.  If they happen to stall in the red zone again, keep in mind that it's preseason and the playbook is very plain, by design.  While some may have been irked that the Packers didn't come away with a touchdown in a few red zone trips last week, they had guys open and those chances are going to be there again.  This offense will be fine.

There's not much the Packers can lose this week, outside of a player getting hurt.  These games only help the younger players gain some experience and get more comfortable with the team's scheme and game plan.  It's just good to have football back on a Sunday, especially Packers football!


Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

August 22, 2015 at 07:26 pm

Is it noon yet, I can not wait. I got to watch the Patriot game with my brother. I know but we are 600 miles away it was worth the trip, and oh by the way pizza was great.

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packerfan9507's picture

August 22, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Stop trying to make Carl Bradford happen. It's not going to happen!

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