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Packers-Bears Preview: Key players for Green Bay in the week 4 matchup

It’s a short week for the Packers so they’ll definitely need a little extra out of a few select players. Here’s who they might be.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a short week at Lambeau as the Packers had a quick turnaround to play the rival Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football. The offensive line is in shambles so it’ll take a little magic and hard effort to overcome the losses that Green Bay has sustained. Here are some players that can help with that:

Josh McCray and Adam Pankey

After being one of the team’s more stable units in recent years, the Packers’ offensive line is in shambles. David Bahktiari and Bryan Bulaga are both expected to miss their Week 4 contest, while backup lineman Kyle Murphy was recently placed on IR. This leaves McCray and Pankey to possibly fill the voids at the tackle positions or, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN has suggested, possibly reshuffling the line to put them in guard positions.

Regardless of where they play, the spotlight will be on them to keep Aaron Rodgers’ white Color Rush jersey clean. The Bears listed lineman Akiem Hicks questionable for the game today, but it appears that he will play. Even if he doesn’t, linebackers Leonard Floyd and Willie Young are still going to come screaming off the edge.

Martellus Bennett

Piggy-backing off McCray and Pankey, Bennett will have to put in a solid game. According to Player Profiler, Bennett has played on 94.3% of the Packers’ offensive plays, including 16.3% in the slot. If the new tackles struggle in their positions, expect Bennett to play close to the line and helping out on blocking assignments. The same goes for Ty Montgomery on passing downs.

Looking at Pro Football Reference, Bennett has only snagged 11 of 21 targets and his slow start is noticeable. The Packers’ collective catch rate is 66% (compared to Bennett’s 52.4%) so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of Bennett and Rodgers getting comfortable with one another to get things to click. The Packers need to have Bennett be what they signed him to be in this game: a well-rounded tight end that can block and catch.

Josh Jones

Obligatory Josh Jones praise. This is a football player that decided to kick down opportunity’s door, Bob Kelso style.

Recording 12 tackles and 2 sacks against the Bengals in Week 3, he was a key player in allowing the Packers to come back from down 21-7. He slid into the Nitro position at linebacker, while Morgan Burnett moved to the slot corner position. Jones is a tough player who makes fundamentally sound tackles to go along with his physicality.

In this game, Jones will need to be as helpful as he was last week not only getting after the QB, but also in run support as Chicago has two running backs that can break off a big gain out of the backfield. Either on the ground or through the air, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are big parts of the Bears offense that lacks a strong receiving corps.