Packers Preseason: Kansas City Chiefs

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-Brady VanDeurzen

Things to look for:

Solid play from second and third team players will be one of the most noticeable aspects in Thursday’s preseason game against the Chiefs.

As the final preseason game, it is the last opportunity for many bubble players to prove their worth. Intensified play should be expected from positions that the Packers possess an abundance in. Positions like OLB and WR are just a few of the positions that the Packers have an extensive amount of players at; consequently resulting in plenty of positional battles, which are always an intriguing draw.

Hands down, the largest draw of Thursday’s game will be the integration of newly acquired punter Jacob Schum. After a head-scratching move earlier this week, which ultimately flipped the Packer’s special teams outlook completely, the Packers are once again fresh at the punter position.

All eyes will be on Schum during his debut for the Packers, it will be intriguing to see how his stats compare to that of Mortell and Masthay. If his stats are not up to par with both Mortell and Masthay it will be interesting to see what moves are made next.

In regards to the punting game, the Packers are very unlikely to go for any fourth and short scenarios, expect to see either a punt or field goal in these situations, in order to better adapt the special teams unit.

The Packers win on Thursday if…

The Packers have been prosperous thus far in the preseason, thanks to solid depth on both sides of the ball. To win against the Chiefs the Packers offensive line must hold off a sturdy pass rush from the Chiefs. Although Justin Houston, the Chief’s primary pass-rusher, is on the PUP list, the Chiefs will still find plenty of ways to get to the QB. Players like Don Barclay and Jason Spriggs will have to step up in Thursday’s game in order to keep the Packer’s QB bunch upright.

To avoid the Chiefs pass rush, the Packers will win Thursday’s game if they counter the rush with a strong running game. Players like James Starks and Brandon Burks will have to perform very well in the game in order for the Packers to have a productive offense. If the Packers can maintain a strong running game against the Chiefs then the Packers will be a hard team to stop on Thursday.

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Packers meet 75-player roster cut

Packers meet 75-player roster cut

-Mike Johrendt

With the deadline for the 2016 NFL season of being down to 75 players on a roster, the Green Bay Packers had some moves to make. Yesterday, the Packers started their roster cut down by releasing six players, including Green Bay-native and University of Minnesota-alum Peter Mortell. After a quite successful camp and preseason, Mortell was cut, which at the time lead to Tim Masthay regaining his starting job, but more on that in a little bit.

Today, Green Bay had to make six more roster decisions to get down to 75. They cut receiver Harvey Binford, traded away linebacker Lerentee McCray for a conditional 2018 draft pick, and placed running back John Crockett, tight end Kennard Backman, guard Josh Walker, center Jacob Flores, and tight end Mitchell Henry on injured reserve, taking them off their official roster. After all of these moves, the Packers stood at the required 75 players.

The most prevalent name on this list is Crockett, who recently injured his shoulder in the last preseason contest for Green Bay, and reports have being out of action at least one month, possibly more. Crockett was the Packer’s third-string tailback last year, behind Lacy and Starks. With his injury, it looks like undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Burks will be the recipient of his spot on the roster. Other players, like Backman, Walker, and Henry all have previous NFL experience either with Green Bay, so the likelihood they catch onto other teams is high if they chose to reach an injury settlement instead of remaining on injured reserve for the year.

Both Backman and Henry were fighting an uphill battle from the get-go, as the Packers normally only carry three tight ends, and with Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook entrenched on the roster, they were competing with Justin Perillo for the final spot. Binford was a rookie that Green Bay signed in the offseason, and with the crowded core already, his chances of making the roster were slim. The trade of McCray opens up a spot for Jayrone Elliott to probably earn one of the last linebacker spots on the team. His lackluster performance in the preseason left some to be desired, but his breakthrough last preseason has the team believing in his potential.

Upcoming for the Packers, September 3 at 6 pm ET is the final deadline when the roster must be cut down to 53 players, presenting Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy with tough decisions. Green Bay has their final preseason game this Thursday, September 1, against the Chiefs, so there is a window for player evaluation between the game and the deadline. In addition, this game will act as a one-game dress rehearsal for Jacob Schum, who is the new punter that the Packers just claimed on waivers today. With the claim, Tim Masthay was released. This may come as a surprise to most people, since the team just released Mortell a few days ago, but Masthay did not do enough during camp to prove himself worthy of a roster spot. Schum was just released by Tampa Bay, and has some regular season action under his belt. Hopefully with this pickup, the punting game is finally finalized for the Pack, but only time will tell.

Mortell falls short; amongst five other releases

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-Brady VanDeurzen

The stats weren’t enough to keep, Punter, Peter Mortell in Green Bay. The Green Bay native, made for a interesting story in the preseason and for many, he was a fan favorite. However, general managers and head coaches rarely take a player’s background story into account when deciding who makes the cut.

Regardless of his story, Mortell had a fairly impressive preseason stretch. Although Mortell’s punts were typically longer than those of Packer veteran Tim Masthay (approximately 2.5 yards longer), Masthay’s punts averaged around .30 seconds more of hang time.

With the punting battle being so close, swapping a veteran punter for a less experienced one did not seem like a necessary move by the Packers; ultimately leading to Mortell’s release. DT Demetris Anderson, CB Randall Jette, WR Jamel Johnson, LB Derrick Mathews and WR Ed Williams make up the Packers’ first six to be cut, they will need to cut six more players by tomorrow.

Packers Preseason: San Francisco 49ers

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-Brady VanDeurzen

Things to look for:

Aaron Rodgers will most likely be the major draw for many in tonight’s game versus the San Francisco 49ers. Rodgers is expected to play in his only preseason game later this evening, and it is likely that Packer fans will be both excited and fearful to see number 12 out on the field for the Green and Gold. With a revived offense in 2016, Packer fans will once again get to witness the illustrious Rodgers to Nelson hookup, however that will not be the case in tonight’s matchup as Jordy Nelson is not expected to play.

On the bright side, Packer fans will get to witness newcomer Jared Cook receiving passes from Rodgers, a combination that is yet to reach its adolescence. The Packers have not had a significant QB to TE option since Jermichael Finley, Cook brings all that talent and more back to Green Bay. Expect to see Rodgers targeting Cook on a consistent basis in tonight’s game, depending on how many snaps Rodgers plays for of course.

Another intriguing aspect of tonight’s game will be found in the Outside and Inside Linebacking position battles. Arguably the team’s deepest positions, the Packers have a myriad of capable pass-rushers on the edge, as well as solid run-stuffers in the middle. Young and emerging players like OLB Lerentee McCray, ILB Carl Bradford and OLB Jayrone Elliott are all on the chopping block; expect to see explosive plays from these bubble-players this evening as well.

The Packers win tonight if…

The Packers take home the victory tonight if the young defense can ultimately hinder the 49ers quarterback play. Both Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are primarily run-first type quarterbacks, a theme that has been an area of concern for the Packers in the past. If the Packers’ young defensive players can read the offensive irregularities that head coach Chip Kelly is likely to provide, the team should ultimately be successful. This stout defensive play by the Packers is also very likely, due to many players on the team looking to play well in order to make the cut.

The Packers will also record the W if the Packer offense starts off fast. A scenario that is highly likely due to the return of Aaron Rodgers, Rodgers is likely to dazzle Packer fans and jumpstart the Packers boring preseason offense. If the Packers’ first team can put points on the board quickly, the 49ers will have a hard time fighting back against an impressive, young Packers defense.

Packers Preseason: Oakland Raiders

 

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-Brady VanDeurzen

Things to look for:

The Packers return to Lambeau tonight for their final game at home for 38 days. Last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns saw many abnormalities; three safeties and a myriad of incomplete passes. Although the end result was a positive one for the Packers, winning 17-11, the overall play was discouraging.

In tonight’s game versus the Oakland Raiders, I, like many other Packer fans, hope to see better performances across the board. If the Packers can achieve this elevated pace, they will be a tough team to overcome.

Tonight’s game against the Raiders is likely to boast more first and second-team players alike. Players like Brett Hundley, Blake Martinez and Kenny Clark are likely to receive an abundance of playing time in accordance.

Players that are “on the fence” will be out in full force tonight, fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, players like Jayrone Elliot, Geronimo Allison and John Crockett will all be exhibiting their bests this evening.

The Packers win tonight if…

The Packers will record the W if young receivers step up to replace Jeff Janis and Jordy Nelson. Flashing what these young receivers have is vital for both their future as a Packer, and for the team to win this evening. With these voids, players will better be able to impress both the fans and the coaching staff. Positions like gunners on special teams, and even kick and punt returners are also positions that these young receivers can prove themselves in. If these receivers play impressively this evening the Packers will take home the W.

Also the Packers will win if Brett Hundley impresses. Brett Hundley originally believed that he had five preseason games to hone his skill as backup QB. However, due to cancellations and injury, Hundley has been unable to perform in a preseason game thus far. Last week’s game saw a lot of bootlegs and running plays due to the lack of talent at the 3rd and 4th position at QB, however, Hundley brings a breath of fresh air in the passing game and will likely spread the field much more.  If the promising backup shines in tonight’s game, they will be a hard team to stop.

Packers’ Family Night 2016: Takeaways

-Brady VanDeurzen

Boasting around 66,000 people, Packers Family Night is arguably the largest practice league-wide. Many players have claimed that the immense amounts of fans that are in attendance give the glorified practice more of a game feel. Blake Martinez, the Packers’ fourth-round draft pick out of Stanford, stated that the participation of fans and their attendance was “unbelievable,” and that he couldn’t recall a college practice of his that had more than 30 people.

The event has sold out frequently throughout its 16 year history, 10 times to be more specific. Family night has always given fans the first look at new players, schemes, etc. Which primarily justifies the large attendance that the event receives.

2016 marked as the 10th sold out Packer Family Night and although the event has slowed to more of a fast-paced practice than a scrimmage, many takeaways can still be made from last night’s event.

Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb looked in sync, connecting on several passes including a TD over LaDarius Gunter. The two had been shaky throughout training camp, oftentimes Cobb would read the defense incorrectly, or be out of position to make a catch. Both Cobb’s and Rodgers’ performance at Family Night was a breath of fresh air for Packer fans who were skeptical about the duos lack of choreography. Perhaps Cobb’s performance at the event will help Cobb return to form, which would be a great help for the Packers’ offensive struggles.

On the defensive side of the 11 vs. 11 drill, Pass-rushing Jayrone Elliott played very well. Elliott was a consistent nuisance in the backfield. Elliott, although unable to sack the QB, would’ve recorded numerous sacks if given the chance, which is always a very promising sign for young talent. Elliott showed a lot of potential, and could be a potential replacement for the aging Julius Peppers.

The 16th Packers’ Family Night was capped off with a dazzling firework display, lighting up the sky.  A perfect way for the night to go out with a bang.

Packers’ Training Camp Day Three: Crockett outplays and Burnett’s versatility

Day Three of the Packers’ training camp was highlighted by Paul Ryan’s visit. The speaker of the house was pleased with the performance of the Packers earlier today, and jokingly made comments on player health.

Outside of the visit, highlights came on the field as well. Players like John Crockett and Morgan Burnett played well. Crockett is running very dominantly, preventing undrafted RBs from surpassing him in the depth chart. As the Packers’ third RB, Crockett is performing well and would provide a nice safety net in emergency situations.

Morgan Burnett also brought some excitement to today’s practice. Burnett took a few plays at linebacker in a few packages. Teams like the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams have taken similar approaches and it would be intriguing to see how the Packers implement Burnett into the linebacking position in the regular season.