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Wednesday Walkthroughs: Who are the Packers’ unsung heroes so far in 2018?

APC Writers weigh in on what players haven’t been getting enough attention

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The usual suspects have grabbed most of the headlines in the Packers’ 2-1-1 start. Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things to beat the Bears. Aaron Jones is a star in the making. Even Clay Matthews has garnered plenty of attention, though not for the reasons anybody hoped.

But plenty of other players have pitched in as well, and this week we want to recognize their contributions. Here are our unsung heroes from the first month of the season.

Shawn Wagner: David Bakhtiari

There were gasps and groans during the Packers’ Family Night scrimmage early in training camp when Bakhtiari gingerly walked off the field with a lower leg injury. Fortunately for the Packers, their left tackle was back to action quickly and has not missed a beat.

On an offensive line that has really struggled on the right side through four games, Bakhtiari has continually given the team a big lift on Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. He’s currently graded as the second-best tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus and has been a critical piece of the puzzle during Rodgers’ recovery and scrambling limitations. Not only do Packers fans never have to worry about Bakhtiari being beaten badly off the edge, they don’t have to question his toughness and ability to stay on the field.

As an offensive lineman, you don’t want your name heard with regularity. That in itself makes Bakhtiari a literal unsung hero. Green Bay would be in dire straits if left tackle wasn’t secure, making Bakhtiari among its most valuable pieces. As long as health is not a factor, there is no way Bakhtiari is a Pro Bowl snub for a second consecutive year.

Evan “Tex” Western: Corey Linsley

While David Bakhtiari is a deserving choice, he has been gradually drawing more and more attention over the past few years and I see his name popping up in the media from time to time. Linsley, however, seems to fly entirely under the radar despite doing yeoman’s work in the middle of the line against a glut of excellent defensive tackles all year long. He hasn’t missed a regular season snap since 2016, and he’s out there doing his part to keep the maple syrup industry afloat with pancakes like this:

Check out this bonkers switch by Linsley and running back Jamaal Williams on a blitz as well:

Bob Fitch: Geronimo Allison

The obvious answer is #69 in your programs but #1 in your hearts, David Bakhtiari. Offensive linemen, thanks to the nature of their position, never receive enough praise and often take too much flak, but Bakh has been an absolute shut-down tackle this season. Packer fans and some astute national observers have known this for a while, but someone who has emerged as a viable threat on offense has caught many - including me - by pleasant surprise. That man is Geronimo Allison, and he has been a tremendous safety valve for Aaron Rodgers.

Allison and Rodgers have had good chemistry going back to Allison’s first year as a receiver and has the full trust of the star QB. There are some obvious hiccups - namely, drops on passes that typically would be caught - but regardless, Allison has repeatedly bailed out the offense by making tough catches and acting as Rodgers’ outlet on third down. Without his contributions, the offense might have looked even worse than it already has.

Paul Noonan: Blake Martinez

Your humble inside linebacker may not be the most important player on the defense, but Martinez has shown last year’s incredibly productive season to be no fluke. He leads the team in tackles, has has recorded a sack and a pass defended, provided some of the best tackling on the team, and he’s been at least adequate in coverage. While he will probably (and correctly) always be overshadowed by Daniels, Clark, and the rookie corners, he’s easily the best linebacker on the team, and at a position that has been a weakness for as long as I can remember, his well-rounded, steady play is a breath of fresh air.

Jon Meerdink: Ty Montgomery

Packers internet has called loudly and repeatedly (and rightly) for Aaron Jones to receive more carries. Ty Montgomery deserves similar treatment.

Playing behind Jamaal Williams, Montgomery has been productive when he’s gotten the ball. He’s averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry as a runner and a very good 12.3 yards per catch on 11 receptions. What’s more, he presents matchup issues for the defense that Williams simply can’t duplicate.

His fumble on Sunday was certainly regrettable, but if we’re dividing up touches in the backfield Montgomery deserves to increase his share, too.

Mike Vieth: JK Scott

I like seeing the linemen get a little love from the writers above. Those guys never get much attention and, being a former college lineman, that is the route I would usually choose for an unsung hero. I’m going to go a little out of the box with my choice though and go with punter JK Scott.

Scott has been nothing but excellent through his first four weeks as a pro. Just taking a look at his stat line, he’s had 18 punts and seven have landed inside the twenty. That’s a 38.8% rate. That’s fantastic compared to what we’ve been accustomed to over the past several years. He’s averaging 47.4 yards per kick with a net average of 41.6.

While these numbers are top ten in the league, where Scott really excels is his hangtime.

He’s tied for the league lead in fair catches with eight and, watching most of his kicks, the punt coverage team is at the returner well before the ball is caught. I can’t find any stats that say what his average hangtime is but my guess would have to be above 4.6 seconds on every kick. I know for sure, as I timed myself, he’s had several over five seconds.

Scott is proving that he was worth a draft pick when the Packers selected him and is looking like he will be a vital weapon for the Packers when they need to flip the field position. My biggest concern might be what happens to him when the cold weather hits. He went to school at Alabama but I have to have faith that it won’t bother him much as he was born and raised in Colorado. The last time the Packers grabbed a kicker from Colorado it was Mason Crosby and he hasn’t had too many issues kicking in the cold. So, hopes are high that Scott finished the year as strong as he’s started.