During the regular season, we at Acme Packing Company often post about “five things to watch” for the Green Bay Packers’ upcoming game. All of the focus is on winning the football game, so those topics are often broader items that affect the final result of a contest.
In the preseason, however, the final score is not the focus. Player evaluation is the name of the game, and therefore instead of looking at five topics, we’ll examine five individual players to examine this Sunday night when the Packers play the Colts in Canton for the Hall of Fame Game.
Jason Spriggs, OT
The Packers’ second-round pick has done a very solid job early on in one-on-one pass-rushing reps, but this will be the first time that he’s facing live competition. He should get a long look at both left and right tackle, which in turn would get reps against veterans like Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, and Erik Walden, as well as a handful of fellow rookies.
Blake Martinez, ILB
Yes, the hype surrounding Martinez and his potential contributions in coverage has been building since spring practices. However, I am most curious to see how Martinez looks on base downs, particularly against the run. While Sam Barrington continues to reside on the PUP list, Martinez should get some snaps with the number 1 defense and should rotate with Carl Bradford, Joe Thomas, and Beniquez Brown for much of the game. If Martinez proves stout in the run game and can disengage from blockers, that will be a great sign for him to not only be an immediate factor on third down, but on first and second as well.
Trevor Davis, WR
On Friday, I wrote about how it will likely be difficult to evaluate the Packers’ receiver battle with both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley standing on the sideline for the entire game. What I will be looking to see from Davis, however, is how he performs on special teams, particularly on kickoff and punt returns. Hopefully the Packers’ defense will allow him to take several punts and show off his blazing speed and field vision. If he can demonstrate to the coaches that he has value as a returner, that will make him that much more of a sure bet to make the roster.
John Crockett, RB
The word on Crockett this summer is that he focused heavily in the offseason on improving his receiving and blocking abilities and developing a role on special teams. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks unlikely to see much playing time on Sunday, Crockett should have plenty of opportunities to shine on offense, and even though he already has a substantial edge in the battle for the third running back job, he needs to show improvement in those aforementioned areas to really lock himself in for 2016.
Josh Hawkins, CB
Green Bay has four cornerbacks who are locks or nearly locks for the final roster in Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and LaDarius Gunter. Behind them, though, it’s a wide-open battle, and the Packers could feasibly keep as many as two more young corners. Hawkins has exceptional speed and change-of-direction ability, but his size and zone background make him a question mark. However, Bob McGinn was impressed by Hawkins in practice this week, and if the mental side of the game can catch up to his impressive physical skills, Hawkins could make APC’s roster prediction prove quite prescient.