Football season is here, and in Wisconsin, football weather has arrived early. Thursday night’s practice was moved indoors to the Hutson Center, but Saturday night’s Family Night intrasquad game will go on as scheduled.
Weather should be warmer, dipping into the 60s at night; excellent preparation for fall games at Lambeau.
Family night is more akin to a practice than a game. Little is at stake, except for the WWE title belt awarded to the offensive or defensive line, but here are some areas of interest to observe in the game.
Game of the Week: Thursday Night Preview: Hall of Fame Game
What’s Trending: Steelers’ Roethlisberger and Bryant have much anticipated talk
NFL Reaction: What Raiders’ Vegas relocation means to fans in Oakland
- How long do Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley play? With last year’s flat start, there was speculation that Rodgers did not take enough snaps in the preseason games to build up a rhythm with the receivers.Hundley was injured early in the preseason in 2016, it is likely that he may get an extended look so the team can better evaluate him, especially if he is a valuable trade commodity. With injuries to Tannehill and Flacco, backup quarterbacks are at a premium.
2. Check out the impact of the “Nitro” defense. Dom Capers has been experimenting with a package that lines up three down linemen, three linebackers (sometimes using Morgan Burnett at LB), three safeties, and two cornerbacks. The matchup problems caused by having Josh Jones, Hah-Ha Clinton-Dix and Kentrell Brice on the field should give opposing offenses nightmares.
3. Quinton Rollins has quietly been excellent at corner in training camp. Rollins and Davon House should get first-team reps with Kevin King, but Damarious Randall and Ladarius Gunter will get plenty of chances to prove 2016 was not representative of their ability. Lenzy Pipkins should get a few snaps but needs to distinguish himself. Aaron Taylor, Josh Hawkins, Demetri Goodson, and Daquan Holmes need to make the most of every snap to stay on the roster.
4. The stable of running backs created by the draft and free agency will be a focal point. Coach McCarthy will not back down on establishing the run. Ty Montgomery and Aaron Ripkowski should see limited snaps as the team evaluates Jamaal Williams, Kalif Phillips, Devante Mays, Joe Kerridge, and Aaron Taylor. This game will be McCarthy’s chance to feature an all-Aaron backfield of Rodgers, Ripkowski, and Jones.
5. Special teams will be the best chance for unheralded players to stick with the team. Expect some big hits, long returns, and hopefully some fake field goals/punts; this is the time of year to work on trickery in a low-pressure situation.
6. The defensive line must prepare for 4 games without Latroy Guion. The foot injury of Montravius Adams leads to some depth concerns, more injuries on the D-line could prove highly detrimental. Ricky Jean-Francois and Mike Daniels will provide leadership; Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark should seize this opportunity to shine.
The main thing Packers fans should hope not to see is injuries. Jordy Nelson getting hurt in preseason derailed the offense in 2015, and Hundley’s injury may have prevented a trade for defensive talent or draft picks. The inescapable conclusion of this game, and the best news Packers fans hear all year, is that football at Lambeau Field is back!