Obviously, if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, it would be nice if every single Packer had a nice performance on Saturday against the New England Patriots. With that being said, it’s easier to have your opinion swayed on a player who hasn’t had a lot of proven production in the system, compared to an Aaron Jones — who we all know can do his job come Week 1.
With that in mind, let’s touch on five players who I’m excited about getting another data point on in the second week of the preseason, after strong Week 1 performances. Hopefully, the hype continues.
QB Jordan Love (assuming he plays)
Based on how general manager Brian Gutekunst spoke about Jordan Love — and the team overall — on Friday, the assumption is that Love will be the Packers’ starting quarterback in the home opener on Saturday. Still, head coach Matt LaFleur wouldn’t commit to Love playing in this upcoming game back on Thursday, so there is the potential for a surprise here.
Love played well on Family Night and in Week 1 of the preseason, but had a tough day at practice against the Patriots’ defense on Thursday — the second of two joint practices between the teams. Let’s hope that Love can bounce back with a strong gameday performance.
RB Emanuel Wilson
The undrafted rookie Emanuel Wilson was the star of the show, offensively, against the Bengals. On just six carries, Wilson posted 111 rushing yards to go with two rushing touchdowns.
The Packers’ coaching staff has said several times that they want to see some special teams value out of their third running back, which is the roster spot that Wilson is competing for. Currently, the leading special teamer out of the backfield is Patrick Taylor, who has been on the practice squad over the last few years and is starting on two of Green Bay’s four core special teams units.
Wilson would need to have a hell of a preseason to earn a 53-man roster spot on the team without being featured as a plus special teamer. Tune in against the Patriots to see if he can keep his offensive momentum going or if he shows up early in the kicking game rotation.
CB Carrington Valentine
The story of the summer, aside from the quarterback change, is the breakout performance of seventh-round rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine. Valentine has played so well that most fans want to give Rasul Douglas a look at safety, a suggestion that had defensive coordinator Joe Barry puzzled in his press conference on Friday.
It's hard to not get excited about Carrington Valentine pic.twitter.com/WnaNpqO9FO— The Big Ten's Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 14, 2023
Last week, Valentine recorded three pass breakups after making a start at cornerback as an injury replacement for Jaire Alexander — who was out with a groin injury. Alexander participated in joint practices during team and individual drills, but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Packers slow-played Alexander’s return and gave Valentine another extended look with the first-team defense.
SAF Tarvarius Moore
Out of the three safeties (Tarvarius Moore, Darnell Savage and Jonathan Owens) who saw first-team snaps on defense against the Bengals, I thought that Moore played the best. With the way the safety rotation has shaken out recently, there’s a real chance that special teams ace Rudy Ford is on the roster bubble.
The number two starting safety job has seemed to be shaved down to Moore and Owens, with Moore winning Round 1 versus Cincinnati. Keep an eye on this group against the Patriots, as it’s easily the biggest training camp battle going on, defensively.
SAF Anthony Johnson Jr.
I’m not sure he’s going to get a look at real playing time on defense this year, because he worked with the third-team defense in preseason Week 1, but rookie seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson Jr. had a hell of an NFL debut last week. Not only did he make an impact on defense, but he also flashed as a special teams player.
I thought Anthony Johnson played well in his preseason debut pic.twitter.com/hDTBk6X7JB— The Big Ten's Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 18, 2023
There’s a real possibility that a potential roster spot for Johnson will come down to the Packers keeping him or fellow safety Dallin Leavitt. Leavitt is a special teams ace who special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia brought to town from the Raiders. Leavitt plays the tough-to-fill position of personal protector on punt team, which is a spot that Johnson saw reps at last week.
Let us know in the comments below if there are any other players that you would add to your personal “five players to watch” this weekend.