Each year there's always a couple of players that make an impact in the regular season that seemingly come out of nowhere. This is a list of the top five guys who could be one of those players. Undrafted players are always interesting to watch and see if they can make the team, and every so often a guy like Tramon Williams shows up and becomes a starter. Will that happen this year? We shall see. Feel free to post any comments or thoughts on the matter.
Pat Lee will compete with Brandon Underwood for the number four or number three CB spot, depending on Al Harris's avalibility. The reason to watch him this preseason is to see him in the 3-4 and just to watch him play period. He missed most of his rookie season due to injury and missed all of last year as well. He was a second round pick three years ago and certainly has that ability. He appears to be 100 percent right now with no lingering injuries. He could give this secondary a big boost if he plays near his potential, he's far better then guys like Josh Bell and Jarrett Bush who played last year while he, Blackmon, and Harris were out.
Sam Shields will hopefully not have to play in the secondary this season. His value will come on special teams, where the Packers need help. He was a star return man in college at Miami(FL) and could be used as a gunner on kickoffs and punts. He's shown playmaking ability in training camp so far, but he is another player that if everything goes as planned, he will not have to be used.
By far the closest position battle this offseason, Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay have been almost dead even at punter thus far. Masthay has been punting a little further and has had slightly more hang time, but Bryan has been doing better at punting inside the 20 and getting the ball out of bounds near the goal line.
Based on their numbers in trainging camp, which shouldn't be much different in the regular season given that they're doing the exact same thing now as they will do this season, they should be a big improvement over Kappinos and others in the past. This is the one battle that will likely be soley decided by pre season play at this point. It isn't that excited to watch punting battles, but some teams have to worry about who will be their starting QB, so it's a pretty good thing.
Morgan Burnett was likely going to be the starter in Week one even with Atari Bigby on the roster, but now with Bigby undergoing ankle surgery, he's just as much of a lock at SS as Nick Collins is at FS. Now that he's the starter he probably won't play that much in the preseason, but it will be interesting to see our new starter when he does play. I'm not sure how good he'll be this year as a rookie, but he will certainly be a step up from the injury rittled, coverage liability, that is Atari Bigby. Plus he's a natuarl ball-hawk, sorry Jay Cutler.
The reason why I have him number one over Morgan Burnett is because he should play more in the preseason and there will be more to go by as far a judging his ability. Even with the loss of Johnny Jolly, the Packers still have three very good starters in Cullen Jenkins, BJ Raji, and Ryan Pickett.
With Pickett's age, expect to see Neal get a good amount of playing time this year, although he shouldn't start any games barring injury. Mike Neal has alot of potential and could have a bigger impact this year than Raji did in his rookie season, although I don't expect him to be the better player when it's all said and done.
The main reason for that is because Raji held out last year and then after missing time, got hurt and barely played in the first half of the season. He won't make us forget about Jolly this season, but he shouldn't have to given the talented starting lineup.