As each day goes by, the 2010 NFL season draws ever so closer. Most of us are excited, while a few of us are eager to see just how our team performs when the pressure is on.
Perhaps one of the most exciting teams to be portrayed under the spotlight this season is the Green Bay Packers. They are young yet experienced, and have a new found confidence that could very well lead them to Super Bowl glory.
However, although Green Bay faithfuls are extremely excited, some work does have to be done this season by Green Bay's impact players.
Therefore, here's a look at the Top 10 Impact Players for the Green Bay Packers' 2010 season, along with what they need to do to help the Packers' chances.
Will the real A.J. Hawk please stand up?
Think back five years ago, and you should be greeted with the memory of a once dominating Hawk at the linebacker position.
Fast forward to 2009, and you'll be greeted with a still good player, but also with a guy that has taken his foot off the gas a little in recent years, and has failed to be as impressive as he once was.
I guess for me personally, Hawk has gone from hero to close to zero. He was always such a scary player both on the field and on Madden video games, and when opposing offenses saw him across the field, most tried to avoid him.
Criticism aside though, Hawk is still a pivotal member of the Packer defense. I wouldn't go as far as saying that he is the glue that holds it all together, but he does play a certain leadership role quite well.
This season I think we will see a new Hawk. It's time for him to have a big year, and if the Packers play well, so should he.
Let's just hope the real Hawk stands up sometime soon.
Most Packer fans either love or hate Mason Crosby.
Whatever your opinion is though, there is no denying that he missed way too many field goals in green and gold last season for the Packers.
When it came right down to it, the Packers' 11-5 record could have been a lot better if Mason Crosby had made some kicks go through.
Not only could many games have been won, such as the Pittsburgh game, a lot of confidence could have been stored in the Packer offense early, if Mason Crosby had been a little more consistent.
Whether or not you like Mason Crosby, give Mike McCarthy credit, he has stuck by him.
Prior to the 2009 season, Crosby was a very trusted kicker, and I have fond memories of him on many NFL Fantasy ads.
If you hate him, fine. But for those that have stuck by him, Mason Crosby's 2010 campaign could go good or bad this year.
If he does prevail, great, the Packers have a kicking game again. If he fails, well some concern will be shown.
Still, he has been trustworthy in the past, and all Packer fans owe it to him to support him through this slump. Let's hope Mason Crosby is back to his old ways in 2010.
When the Brian Cushing accusations came out recently, I'll admit, I was a little worried for Clay Matthews' future.
Luckily, everything panned out, and the Packers are left with a fast growing player who seems to have hard hitting Green Bay Packer football flowing through his veins.
If you'd asked me a season ago who Clay Matthews was, I'd probably be able to tell you, but I wouldn't be able to say much about him.
What's the case now?
Well, his 10 sacks last season, accompanied by a forced fumble, pretty much paint the entire picture when it comes to No. 52.
For those that may remember, in past articles I have stated that Clay Matthews may have a case of the second year blues. While I still stand behind this statement firmly, I do feel that Clay Matthews is a very important part to the Packer defense.
For you see, before Clay Matthews came, the Packers' linebacker core was missing some much needed dominance and defensive presence.
Now though, the puzzle is complete, and Green Bay has a very reliable guy for the future.
Let's all thank USC for producing yet another great talent, we Packer fans certainly appreciate it.
As the old saying goes "A tight end is a quarterback's best friend."
While I don't totally agree with this statement, it has become partly true for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
I think you'll agree, that when it comes to decision making, the Packers are quite good at making the calls. Aside from Brett Favre of course, when it came to placing Jermichael Finley over Donald Lee for the starting role, the coaching staff wasn't at all hesitant.
I guess it is hard to argue with Jermichael Finley's presence, after all he did manage to finish the season with five touchdowns and 676 yards.
However, much of Finley's stats last year shouldn't even compare to how well he is expected to play this year.
Seeing as though just about every analyst is willing to mark Green Bay down amongst NFC favorites, one of the more intriguing names to come out of this story is Jermichael Finley, as everyone believes he will be a contributing factor to a possible Super Bowl season.
At the end of the day, we all pretty much know what we're getting with Jermichael Finley. He's young, he's quick, and he's impressive.
He may not be the next Jeremy Shockey anytime soon, but Packer fans, just be happy that Green Bay has yet another great wide receiver.
If Charles Woodson is Green Bay's number one star on defense, then Nick Collins is a very close second.
For those that underestimate Nick Collins' ability, think again. He poured on the stats last season with six interceptions, one sack, and 53 tackles, and was one of the sole reasons for the Packers' dominance on the defensive side of the ball.
But aside from the obvious, it is what Nick Collins does to the entire Packer team that makes him special. Since Al Harris' devastating injury last season, Nick Collins has become a presence on defense.
He has become quite friendly with Charles Woodson, and both guys have become almost "two peas in a pod" within the span of a season.
This year, expect no different. Looking through Nick Collins' stats, he has always been a fairly consistent player throughout his career.
2010 is the Packers' year, and it is also his turn to add to his interception count.
Finally, the Packers have a running game.
It took a while, and many Packer fans had to endure countless poor rushing attempts, but it appears now that the Packers' ground game is firmly in the hands of Ryan Grant.
I would be lying if I said I always had confidence in Ryan Grant. After all, I have experienced countless games where Ryan Grant has struggled to maintain even the smallest amount of offensive yardage.
However, now I am ready to give him the credit he truly deserves. In 2009, Ryan Grant finished the season strongly with 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns.
While he isn't in some people's top 10 running backs list, he is on the fringe, and that says a lot for the Packers' main man.
Credit much of Grant's success to Aaron Rodgers if you will, but credit a lot of it to Grant himself. He's improved himself each and every offseason, and won't take no for an answer.
Ryan Grant's high ranking on this list is due to what he now brings to the Packers, a trusty run game, and boy is it good to see.
Ah, Donald Driver. Where would the Packers be without you?
When I look at Donald Driver, I see a veteran wide receiver with a ton of skill given his age.
He's fast, yet smart, and is such a great wide receiver to build Aaron Rodgers' confidence and experience as time goes on. Better than that, it is what Donald Driver brings to the Packers that makes him special.
I think you'll agree that Donald Driver is a leader. He seems like a great guy off the field, and never gets into any trouble. Not only that, he also runs the Packer offense like Peyton Manning does in Indianapolis, and helps out those younger guys.
Call him the Gandalf of the Packers if you will. Expect nothing different from him in 2010. He's pure skill, and just a great player to have.
You knew he was coming sooner or later, so here he is, quite possibly the next big star in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that Aaron Rodgers is talented. Despite the offensive line woes last season, he managed to post incredible stats, as he nearly snuck into the MVP race.
The best thing about Aaron Rodgers though is his persistence. Whether it was following Brett Favre, or leading the Packers to a playoff spot, he always looks determined, even though he is a humorous guy.
Now that the Packers took an early exit out of the playoffs, expect Aaron Rodgers to push the team even further in 2010.
He's got every weapon at his fingertips, and has the skill to do great things.
If Donald Driver is Gandalf, than Aaron Rodgers is Harry Potter; he's a magician on the field.
Without Charles Woodson, the Green Bay Packer defense would be nowhere near as impressive as it is today.
A total of nine interceptions, two sacks and four forced fumbles last season saw Charles Woodson become the defensive standout next to Darrelle Revis in the cornerback department.
Not only that, he has now boosted the defensive confidence of the Packers immensely, and looks to build on that in 2010.
The unfortunate circumstance for Charles Woodson is it will be hard to outdo his 2009 campaign. His stats were incredibly high last year, and it will take a monster effort to outdo that performance.
Keep in mind though, as long as Charles Woodson plays well, the Packer defense should too. He's a leader, a presence, and also a massive threat.
I think every Packer fan is glad he is in green and gold. For opposing teams, he presents a mammoth task.
Some may argue with Greg Jennings being No. 1, but there is no denying how much better the Packers play when he is at his 100-percent best.
Last season saw Greg Jennings rack up 1,113 yards and four touchdowns. Although these stats aren't fantastic, they do tell the story that Jennings is a team player, and not the type of guy that calls for the ball on every down.
The most important thing to realize with Greg Jennings is that he is Aaron Rodgers' go-to guy. When Aaron looks down field, who is there? That's right, ole' No. 85.
This season should be no exception, as year after year Greg Jennings continues to act as a dominant force in the NFC North.
Touchdowns may not flow for him like they do for others, but just remember, without Greg Jennings, the Packer offense would be nowhere near as impressive right now.