The preseason is upon us, and as we start this Game Breakdown, let’s look back to the opening of the Week 17 Breakdown for a moment:
“…it sounds as though Aaron Rodgers will be back. That sets an interesting storyline into motion: Rodgers was taken out by the Bears around mid-season. Now, he’s back to potentially eliminate the team that took him out for 7 weeks.
Karma sucks, doesn’t it?
Nice memories. The Packers did well to win the NFC North title last year. The Lions’ collapse and the Bears’ atrocious defense helped a lot, but a title is a title.
But it’s a new year, new season, with a lot of new faces and new attitudes in the fold. The Packers will face a team dealing with a lot of turnover. The Titans have a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt. After serving as the head coach for the Cardinals and most recently as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, Whisenhunt gets a chance to prove himself as a head coach again.
Green Bay Offense vs Tennessee Defense
The plays from the first-team offense and defense will be very limited, and the only thing we’ll learn from Green Bay is who they favor (or want to test out) at a few positions. It looks like J.C. Tretter will start at Center and Richard Rodgers may get some first-team reps at Tight End. If Rich-Rod starts, it will once again humble many of us who haven’t seen the appeal that the coaches have seen.
There is speculation that Davante Adams may be sneaking up on Jarrett Boykin for the third WR job. If Adams doesn’t see the field with the first team, it may temper those rumors. However, if he does take the field, it may electrify the fan base, getting people even more excited about this deep receiving corp. Those expectations have to be tempered though. It’s only the first game of the preseason. The open WR spots will likely come down to Jeff Janis, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, and Myles White.
Throughout most of the game, Derek Sherrod is likely to play quite a bit at LT, which might be a frightening proposition for most fans. On the other hand, he needs to prove himself. Failure is not an option for him this year. Aaron Adams and Jeremy Vujnovich will have ample chances to secure a backup Tackle spot as well.
At Running Back, Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins will showcase themselves for the non-existent #4 RB job – AKA the “not first to get cut” position. I favor Perkins, though I seem to be in the minority. They’ll both get plenty of chances to show how not awful they are before they get released.
“But what about Tennessee?” Asked no one. The Titans are shifting into a 3-4 defense this year, so they may look out of place now and then. Don’t get too excited if the Pack’s backup QBs look better than usual. Jurrell Casey will be a handful as a DE in his team’s new scheme, but that’s about all they have defensively. They have a very young team all around and a lot of question marks, so the Pack’s offense should have a chance to shine all night. By the same token, the Titans’ players will have a lot of guys anxious to make a name for themselves.
Green Bay Defense vs Tennessee Offense
The Titans have new faces on their O-Line including former Raven Michael Oher and rookie Taylor Lewan. Their interior is looking sturdy too, which makes for a good challenge for the young Packers D-Line. Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton and Mike Pennel will have a lot of work on Saturday, and that means a lot of opportunities to impress the coaches (not to mention B.J. Raji, but he needs to impress for different reasons.)
The Quarterback for the Titans is probably Jake Locker, and the other options aren’t particularly concerning. The Wide Receivers are another matter altogether. Kendall Wright could be poised for an explosive year, and Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, and Tight End Delanie Walker aren’t bad supporting pieces. They will be a great test for the Pack’s secondary in the early drives of the game. By the time Zach Mettenburger takes the helm for Tennessee, the Packers should be able to get a good read on the cluster of Cornerbacks and Safeties battling for roster spots.
At Running Back, the Titans (or at least their fans) are hoping for rookie Bishop Sankey to take the starting job. His primary opponents for the starting job are Shonn Greene, former Jet, and Dexter McCluster, former Chief. Behind the revamped line, the Titans may have a viable backfield this season.
As for the Packers, fans will see what Joe Thomas can do with his time at ILB. Thomas seems to be the leading candidate to knock Sam Barrington off the roster. Should be interesting to see Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews on the field at the same time, but fans will also see a lot more of Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Carl Bradford, Jayrone Elliott, and Adrian Hubbard.
The players who excel in Special Teams are the guys who snag the last few roster spots. Jarrett Bush has been a great example of that in recent years. The players to keep an eye on include Chris Banjo, Nate Palmer, Sean Richardson, and Sam Barrington. These are guys who may need to step up on Special Teams to hold their roster spots.
Not much to say about the first preseason game. It’s our first game exposure to a number of players, and it will be the first time seeing some of these young guys who have supposedly developed a lot since last season. In theory, the Packers should come up winners on the scoreboard because the Titans are still learning their new systems, and the Packers have great depth at a number of positions. On paper, the Pack should win the battle of 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-stringers, but ultimately it’s not the score that matters. It’s about seeing a few guys step up and hopefully nobody getting seriously hurt. Succeed at those two, and as Gene Hackman said in “Hoosiers:” I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners!”
See titletownsoundoff.com’s 53 Man Roster Predictions to follow along with who we see making the roster. Watch closely during the game and tell us who you think is locking in a roster spot for themselves. Tweet your predictions to @Titletownsound.
Thank you for reading. David Bobke is a lead writer and editor for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatsOurBobbo. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.