Sure, the starters will be playing the whole first half against the Bengals. This is the third week of the preseason, so Aaron Rodgers and company will be getting the most game action that they'll see before suiting up for the regular season on September 9th. However, don't for a second think that the backups and young players won't be judged on their performance in the second half. That will be their time to shine and stake their claims to their places on the roster.
Here are five players in depth roles whose performance on Thursday night will greatly affect their standing on the depth chart or the roster itself. And if you're wondering, yes, I did try to highlight different players from last week.
Anthony Levine, safety
Levine has been taking a number of snaps with the starting nickel defense this week, spending practice in a three-way timeshare with M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. Personally, I thought the Doctor had been doing a good job diagnosing offenses and had a lock on the job, but he's been pushed recently. Levine has been playing well as a deep cover safety, but needs to start showing better support in the run game if he hopes to make a serious run at that starting position.
D.J. Williams, tight end
I like D.J., and I really like the reports about him catching everything near him all through training camp. He appears to be a legitimate weapon in the passing offense, but I want to see what he can do when Aaron Rodgers is throwing him the ball. If he's consistent and makes a few solid blocks as well, he should be looked at as a good option for the second tight end position, ahead of Tom Crabtree. There's no question he brings more to the table as a receiver than Crabtree, and to have a 1-2 punch of Finley and Williams at tight end would be yet another great luxury for Mike McCarthy's offense.
Check out the other three players to watch after the jump.
Reggie Wells, offensive tackle/guard
Wells will be an interesting specimen to watch this week. With Andrew Datko sidelined, Wells will probably get almost all of the snaps as the number two left tackle behind Marshall Newhouse. All he really needs to do right now to earn a spot on the roster is to stay healthy and be better than Herb Taylor was, and that shouldn't be a tall order.
Terrell Manning, inside linebacker
Manning hasn't really showed up much on anybody's radar in practice, for good or for bad. I've only seen the media members tweet about him a handful of times, whereas Rob Francois and Jamari Lattimore have been making some good plays in the last few weeks. I want to see if Manning has been just going about his job quietly and solidly, or if he is getting caught up in the wash and not actually contributing.
Jarrett Boykin, wide receiver
Boykin has quietly started to get into the mix with Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel, and might have an outside shot at a roster spot. He has also been catching the ball very well in camp, runs good routes, and has good size at 6'2. Can he impress more than the more widely-discussed receivers and earn a roster spot? If not, he'd almost certainly be someone the Packers would hope to get through waivers and onto the practice squad.
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