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Cheese Curds, 9/15: Packers’ youth must find a way to sustain excellent play in debut

The youngsters stepped up in a big way last week, and they’ll need to keep up the good work in Atlanta.

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Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It’s rather stunning just how much of a youth movement the Green Bay Packers have undergone in 2023. Think about a few of the key players on last year’s team: Aaron Rodgers, Marcedes Lewis, Mason Crosby, Randall Cobb. All of these individuals were into their 30s, most of them in their late 30s, and all of them departed this offseason.

In their place are players like Jordan Love, Luke Musgrave, Anders Carlson, and Jayden Reed, all under 25 and most of them rookies. It’s reflective of a broader shakeup across the roster, and in week one, all of those players came up big to beat the Chicago Bears.

On defense, the Packers got a nice infusion of pass-rushing talent up front recently as well. Lukas Van Ness, Karl Brooks, and Colby Wooden all showed up with some pressures on Justin Fields, and they’ll surely be big parts of the rotation in the front seven once again in Atlanta this coming Sunday.

The week two game will be a different challenge, however. The Atlanta Falcons’ defense looks much more creative than the Bears’ did in week one, and they have a much better offensive line, particularly in the run game. The Packers will need those young defenders to continue to play well, particularly against the run, in order to keep the Atlanta offense contained.

One of the challenges of relying on younger players is getting consistent performances from those individuals. If this Packers team hopes to be a real playoff contender this year, they’ll need to do just that, and it starts this Sunday in Atlanta.

Packers had youngest and least experienced roster, most first-year players to open 2023 | Packers Wire
The NFL collected data on every team's opening-week roster, and no team was younger, had more rookies or first-year players, or had fewer players over 30 years old than the Packers.

Packers seek historical first but Falcons’ RBs, injuries could stand in the way - The Athletic ($)
This is just the third time ever that the Packers have started the season with back-to-back road games, and neither of the previous instances saw them start 2-0. They have a chance to do just that by beating the Falcons in Atlanta this Sunday.

‘Trusting himself,’ Packers S Darnell Savage has ‘flipped the switch’ |
DBs coach Ryan Downard praised Savage's performance against the Bears, saying the safety has taken his practice habits to a new level.

Packers’ Improved Run Defense Faces Another Huge Test Against Falcons - Sports Illustrated
The Packers looked better against the run last week, especially while the game was still competitive; they held Bears players not named Justin Fields to just 22 yards on 11 carries before halftime and 63 yards on 20 carries overall. They'll have a much tougher test against a better offensive line this Sunday.

Jets' Robert Saleh would 'be shocked' if Aaron Rodgers retires - ESPN
As a reminder, Rodgers will turn 40 in December. In an odd irony, Rodgers is the same age at 39 that Matt LaFleur was when he tore his Achilles during his first offseason as the Packers' head coach.

‘Meteorite’ crater on Portmarnock beach in Dublin turns out to be hole dug by beachgoers during sunny spell |
A “cosmic meteorite” which was reported on a beach in Ireland was actually just a hole dug by three guys who were messing around on a sunny day.