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Cheese Curds, 8/12: Packers finally open preseason, punt return plan in place

Green Bay's special teams improved in some areas last season, but not on punt returns.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In general, the Green Bay Packers had a much better performance on special teams in 2015 than they did the year before under Shawn Slocum. Ron Zook helped bring some more fire and energy to the units, and they improved from 32nd in the NFL to 17th in one measure of overall special teams success (from the Dallas Morning News). Still, there are always places to improve, and the punt return units struggled last year after being arguably the only positive area the year before.

With the preseason finally getting underway this evening, Zook's return teams will have their first chance to show the fruits of their labor in training camp, as will the rest of the team. We're looking forward to seeing some good progress from several rookies, including linebacker Blake Martinez, and Jeff Janis will also get a chance to repeat his past impressive August performances.

There's all that and more in today's curds!

Communication comes natural to Blake Martinez |
Martinez is not just focusing on winning a starting job at inside linebacker. He wants to be the person to make the calls on defense as well, and he should at the very least get the chance to have the radio helmet in the dime package if not on base downs as well.

Packers pinpoint punt-return problems |
Green Bay's coaches identified a number of issues on punts, particularly on the outside of the field against opposing gunners. Youth and inexperience was one reason for the struggles last year, as special teams stalwarts Jarrett Bush and Davon House departed last offseason.

Green Bay Packers' Jeff Janis hasn't exactly built on playoff heroics - ESPN
With no Jordy Nelson or Ty Montgomery, Janis has had plenty of chances to demonstrate that the plays he made against Arizona can continue; however, with comments like "it's still a work in progress" from the coaches, it appears that there's still a ways to go.

Ravens, Panthers stop preseason game to watch Michael Phelps win 22nd gold medal -
This was pretty cool, as Baltimore native Phelps landed another gold and his home city rallied behind him.

The Chicago Bears had a 'ruff' night, but these dogs doing frisbee tricks were great -
Yes, the dogs were more entertaining than the Bears. Hopefully Chicago's gameday planners hire them for the rest of the season to make sure the Soldier Field crowd has something to cheer for!