There were plenty of positives in the Packers’ preseason opener. In their 22-11 win over the Patriots, the Packers showed off a ton of skill and depth. This week, football on a Sunday returns as the Pack travels to Pittsburgh, where the coaching staff would be thrilled by a similar performance.
At quarterback, just hope to see more of the same. Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Brett Hundley all looked sharp in week ine. Expect to see a bit less of Rodgers, who is usually most involved in preseason game 3, and a lot more of Tolzien and Hundley. From Tolzien, what you want to see is more poise in the pocket, and more of those laser-armed throws we saw last week. From Hundley, just look for more evidence that the NFL game isn’t too big for him. He showed ability to escape a rush and keep his eyes down field. As well as the ability to make all the throws he wanted to.
The run game looked great last week as well. Raijon Neal, Alonzo Harris and John Crockett all showed their abilities as runners, and it will be a tough decision for Ted Thompson on who to cut. The improvement needs to be in pass protection, a very important part of a running back’s job description. That will be my focus for this group in Pittsburgh.
Jeff Janis, the perennial preseason MVP, caught another touchdown last week. In other news, water is wet, the earth is round, and death and taxes and all that. Janis is probably the current leader for the fifth receiver spot, the only one up for grabs. Myles White is still very much in the discussion after he had a solid game himself. Rookie Ty Montgomery and sophomore Davante Adams both put up strong showings as well. As usual, there’s not a lot of concern around the wide receiver position.
The offensive line, while decent overall, showed a few kinks in New England. David Bakhtiari, who has been powering through a knee issue, and Don Barclay, who was a bit rusty after returning from a long-term injury of his own, were human turnstiles last week. Bakhtiari will sit this week and focus on being healthy for the season opener. The rest of the offensive line performed quite well, so there’s no need for concern in that department.
The defensive front seven was very active. There was pressure on the quarterback more often than not, and the Patriots running game, save for one 55 yard touchdown run, never got into a rhythm. Jake Ryan provided a true bright spot. He was always around the ball, making tackles and ruining plays for the Patriots. If he continues to play this way, Sam Barrington will have a hard time keeping his starting spot.
The secondary was another bright spot in week one, but all the attention has to be given to Quentin Rollins and LeDarius Gunter. They showed natural ability to deflect passes, and Gunter’s length allowed him to rip the ball out of the hands of a receiver for an impressive interception. It’s not easy to replace veteran cornerbacks like Tramon Williams and Devon House, and doing so with three rookies is even harder, but there’s reason for optimism on that front after the performance of Rollins and Gunter. Hope to see more of the same from first rounder Damarious Randle. If he shows a similar play-making ability, this secondary will be lethal this year.
Let us know who you’ll be watching closely tomorrow, and be sure to join the in-game discussion in the TTSO Forum.