Green Bay Packers: What to Watch for in Preseason Game Action
Despite it only being the first preseason game, there is still plenty to watch for as the Packers take the field. The biggest things to keep an eye on will be who lines up as the starters at each position and how the rookies fare in their first live action.
Outside of those two, there are still a handful of things take note of. Let's look at what to watch for in Week 1 of the preseason for Green Bay.
How Will Rookies Fare in First True Game Action?
There's no doubt that the best part about the first preseason game is watching the rookies in game action.
For the Packers, there are plenty of exciting rookies to keep an eye on. From safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (more on him in just a bit) to undrafted free agents Joe Thomas and Jayrone Elliott, it'll be interesting to see just how these players perform in the live action of an NFL game.
While training camp is nice, it's nothing like a preseason or regular-season game. So, while these rookies may be playing well in camp, it's important for that to translate to the field during the preseason.
If the Packers can get some solid play from their rookies this week, it'll be a great sign for a really promising draft class.
How Well Will Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Play?
Speaking of rookies, Clinton-Dix has had an extremely quiet training camp so far. Many expected him to be given one of the starting safety jobs right away, but that didn't happen, with the nod going to Micah Hyde.
However, the Packers seemed pleased overall with how Clinton-Dix has performed, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Safeties coach Darren Perry had this to say about Clinton-Dix's transition:
To get to the point where he eliminates the thinking part of it. He's just reacting. That comes in time. It's still early. We're less than a week into camp. ... But again in terms of handling the big stage, he's been there before. It's going to be a matter of him getting comfortable enough and playing fast enough where he can go out there and be an impact player for us, which we're expecting and hoping.
So, this first preseason game should be a good indicator of just how far Clinton-Dix has come. If he plays extremely well and makes an impact, he could start making a serious push for the starting job.
On the other hand, if he struggles, it could really hurt his chances of making too big of an impact as a rookie.
Which Backup Quarterback Plays Better: Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien?
The job for backup quarterback will be one of the hottest camp battles this year. While Matt Flynn is currently listed as the backup on the Packers depth chart, it'll be important to see who plays better in this first preseason game.
For example, if Flynn plays extremely well, he could distance himself as the No. 2 quarterback. However, if Scott Tolzien gets on the field and looks exceptional, he might get a chance to start with the second-team offense in Week 2 of the preseason.
While the Packers should be pleased with where they're at with their backup quarterbacks compared to last year, it's still important to see how Flynn and Tolzien perform in this first game.
Which Tight End Plays with the First-Team Offense?
The tight end position features one of the better camp battles this year. From Andrew Quarless to Brandon Bostick to rookie Richard Rodgers, there are a lot of players for the Packers to choose from.
Quarless is "officially" listed as the starter on the first depth chart, but this iteration usually favors experience. That's why Rodgers is listed as the No. 4 tight end on the same depth chart.
What will be interesting to see is whether Quarless plays all the snaps with the first-team offense or if another tight end can steal some snaps. If Quarless does line up for all the first-team reps and plays well, he could put some distance between himself and his competition.
However, if either Bostick or Rodgers gets some action with the first team, it could be a sign of things to come heading into Week 2.
How Does the Offensive Line Depth Look?
With news that third-year offensive tackle Don Barclay tore his ACL, per Wes Hodkiewicz of Press-Gazette Media, the Packers took a major hit.
Barclay was their most valuable backup offensive lineman due to his versatility and experience. In fact, head coach Mike McCarthy considered Barclay so valuable that he thought of him as the sixth starter on the offensive line, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Now the Packers are lacking in depth with their offensive line. The starting five is still extremely solid, but should any of them get injured, it could be very bad for the Packers.
The most likely player to take Barclay's spot as the premier backup is Derek Sherrod. However, Lane Taylor and Aaron Adams could both see snaps with the second-team offense.
If all of them struggle, the Packers might need to consider bringing in a veteran offensive lineman to help with depth.
Will the Defense Look Any Better?
We all know how good the Packers offense is. What's unknown is whether or not the Packers defense has improved enough to make this team a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
While it's hard to gauge how much a unit has improved in the first preseason game, the defense will hopefully look better against the Titans. A few players to keep an eye on will be outside linebacker Julius Peppers, Hyde and defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
As long as the first-team defense doesn't get absolutely dominated by an unimpressive offense in Tennessee, it'll be a good sign for the future.
Which Stars from Training Camp Keep Up Their Stellar Play?
Being a star in training camp is one thing. Making that play translate to preseason games is a different animal entirely.
The biggest star of training camp has been safety Sean Richardson. He's been stellar and made plays in nearly every practice of camp, per Vic Ketchman of Packers.com. He has a legitimate chance of pushing Morgan Burnett out of the starting lineup with continued strong play.
Along with Richardson, linebackers Elliott and Thomas, and center Corey Linsley have been some of the other camp standouts. For Elliott and Thomas, a strong performance in this game will definitely help with a roster spot. As for Linsley, he could push JC Tretter for the starting job with an outstanding performance.
Look for the stars of training camp to continue their strong play in Week 1 of the preseason.