We’re days away from the first Green Bay Packers football of the season, and while preseason games aren’t anybody’s preferred form of the sport, they can still be interesting to watch with the right perspective.
Here’s what our writers will each be watching for this Saturday night.
Matub: Effort and hustle
I just wanna see everyone out there doing their best. I want to see some effort and some hustle. I hope everyone has a good time.
(also I want to see Jordan Love actually play in a game situation and hopefully not completely soil his drawers in the face of a real pass rush)
Rcon14: Jordan Love looking good, duh
I don’t want to speak for everyone, but how could anyone be more interested in anything else? Love has a lot of physical skills, and like our own Paul Noonan wrote about, didn’t really seem to show them off in the Family Night practice. Hopefully, with a good three quarters or so of reps on Saturday, Love shows why he was a top-40 prospect.
Bad preseasons are by no means a death sentence, especially your first go-around, but given that the Packers should be able to protect him pretty competently with good offensive line depth, he should have what he needs to move the chains.
Kris Burke: No injuries
Most of the starters are going to be held out, of course, but really all you can hope for in a preseason contest is for an injury-free game that doesn’t damage your depth too much.
Preseason football is a necessary evil because you need the games to evaluate your talent at normal speed but you’re also rolling the dice on a season-ending (or in the case of some fringe guys, career-altering) injury and if you come out healthy, it really doesn’t matter if you lose.
Tex Western: Splash plays from young players
One of my favorite things about the preseason is seeing young players make big plays in their first professional action. Remember when Josh Jackson had a pick-six in his second preseason game? I want that.
I want a 75-yard touchdown run from Kylin Hill or an interception from Christian Uphoff or a massive special teams tackle from Daniel Crawford. I want to see Jon Dietzen pancake somebody. I want three sacks from Tipa Galeai or a touchdown pass from Kurt Benkert to Bronson Kaufusi.
That’s not asking too much, is it?
Paul Noonan: The Other Corners
Kevin King entered camp as the incumbent across from Alexander, which is terrible. Eric Stokes has not looked great so far (which is fine as he is a rookie), but SOMEBODY needs to unseat King. Shemar Jean-Charles is probably strictly slot due to his size, and Chandon Sullivan is also better served in the slot. Someone else please show me something, lest we run this back with the big, slow Achilles’ Heel on the outside.
Justis Mosqueda: Roster clarity
Personally, I think watching special teams in the preseason has a huge amount of value, in the context of roster construction. At the end of the day, these games are exercises to help the team cut down to a 53-man roster and a 46-man game-day active list. Understanding if Patrick Taylor has enough special teams value to stick on the roster as an RB4 or if Malik Taylor and/or Kabion Ento are starting as punt gunners puts a lot of the other questions about the roster into perspective. Seeing Jordan Love showing promise on an NFL field wouldn’t hurt, either.
Shawn Wagner: A third running back to step forward
Each writer shares something that I am hoping to see throughout the preseason schedule. However, one thing that is difficult to assess outside of actual game action is the team’s running game. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are locks for the roster and for significant playing time this upcoming season. But with Jamaal Williams moving on to Detroit, the Packers will be looking for a third back to emerge from a group that includes Kylin Hill, Dexter Williams, and Patrick Taylor. Can one possess the pass-blocking prowess that Williams had for third downs or contribute in the passing game? Will one of the backs show enough patience to wait for holes to open up, or at least good anticipation? At a position that demands depth due to its physical nature, a reliable third back is important for Green Bay, especially as the weather eventually gets colder.
I think there is some hidden talent on this roster at running back and I’m hoping that this first preseason game begins to reveal some of those skill sets the team has to work with.
Jon Meerdink: Punt returners
Former midseason punt return savior Tyler Ervin is gone, and it’s not clear who’s going to take his place. Fortunately, the Packers have about a month to sort that out.
While Maurice Drayton has been quick to name potential kickoff return men, the Packers seem a bit more unsettled as to who’s going to return their punts. Third-round pick Amari Rodgers has the skill set to do it, but rookies are seldom a sure thing in that spot. Randall Cobb has returned punts to great success in Green Bay before, but I don’t think that’s why he’s back in town. Josh Jackson has performed the job in spot duty before, but it’s not clear if he’ll be on the roster at all, much less in contention to handle returning punts.
So who’s it going to be? Who knows, but I’m interested to see who looks natural fielding punts on Saturday night.
Lindsay Hansen: Defense doing defense things
There’s no question that our defense hasn’t always been the greatest at doing, well, defense things. So, if we could find our groove in that area before the regular season starts, I think all Packers fans would be pleased.
Oh, and one more thing — let’s bring that trophy back home, where it belongs. #GoPackGo