Is it Monday night yet? It seems like forever since we had Packers football. In an effort to quench your thirst, let's take a look at some of the key players that will need to play well for the Seattle Seahawks to win on Monday.
DE Bruce Irvin
I spotlighted Shea McClellin last week, and I'll highlight Irvin for a similar reason. He's a rookie defensive end who many people hoped or projected would end up in Green Bay to help improve the pass rush. Instead, Seattle fell in love with his 40-yard dash time and his other measureables at the combine and drafted him 15th overall. He won't start, but he'll likely be on the field on passing downs to rush Aaron Rodgers and could be disruptive.
MLB Bobby Wagner
Wagner is a rookie, drafted in the second round out of Utah State, and has been thrust into the starting role at middle linebacker after playing outside in college. He's not terribly big, standing 6 feet tall, but he's smart and agile and very productive in college. I will be very interested to see how Mike McCarthy attacks the rookie, especially if they try to match him up over the middle with some of the Packers' big, athletic tight ends.
KR/RB Leon Washington
Washington has been a special teams weapon in Seattle for a few years after coming over from the Jets before the 2010 season. He took a league-high three kickoffs back for touchdowns in 2010, and while he's been less successful on punt returns than kickoffs, he's definitely a threat to go the distance on any play. If Mason Crosby can boot all of his kickoffs out the back of the end zone and Tim Masthay can punt the way he did against Devin Hester last week, the Packers can minimize Washington's impact on the game.
LT Russell Okung
Okung was the 6th overall pick in 2010, after playing his college ball at Oklahoma State. He's now the Seahawks' starting left tackle, and should see a heavy dose of Clay Matthews all night. A big question mark right now is his health; he has missed at least four games in each of his first two seasons, and he's currently nursing a knee injury. It kept him from playing in last week's game against the Dallas Cowboys, but he is reportedly back practicing fully this week. His performance against Matthews should go a long way to determining whether or not his offense will have success in the passing game.
QB Russell Wilson
You didn't think I'd go through this post without discussing him, did you? Wilson is a natural leader and a gifted passer, and I'm confident that he will eventually be an excellent NFL starter. I just didn't expect that he'd get his opportunity so quickly. Since I watched all 14 of his games last season, i can tell you he's at his best when his running game is drawing extra defenders into the box, allowing him to use his excellent play-action fake. He's very accurate on the move as well, and the Packers will need to ensure that he doesn't break out of the pocket and run. I'll be rooting for Wilson to succeed in the future, but this week I hope the Packers figure out a way to keep him pressured and in the pocket.
How do you think Wilson and company will fare on Monday?