NFL Preseason 2010: Green Bay Packers Top Storylines
The Green Bay Packers enter the off-season with high expectations. Some experts consider them the favorite in the NFC North even with the return of Brett Favre to the Vikings.
The Packers finished last season 11-5 and lost in overtime in a shootout to the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs 51-45.
Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards along with 30 touchdowns. He is ready for another breakout season, possibly an MVP season.
They also featured a running back in Ryan Grant who ran for more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The receiving core is not too bad earlier. Both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver had 1,113 and 1,061 yards receiving respectively.
The problem was their defense. They gave up too many big plays through the air. Kurt Warner threw five touchdowns and 379 yards in that postseason victory. The Packers defense gave up 51 points.
But the Packers defense believe they are a new team and they are out to prove they can hold opposing offenses in check.
Here is a look at the top five storylines for the 2010 Packers preseason...
5. Sam Shields: Returner/ Defensive Back
Sam Shields is undrafted rookie out of Miami (FL) that the Packers picked up this off-season.
He was clocked at a remarkable 4.2-second in the 40-yard dash. His speed alone will keep him on the field.
But in two preseason games, he has not showed that he can be the return man the Packers are looking for.
Shields bobbled a kickoff, before downing the ball in the end zone against Cleveland. He then muffed and lost a punt later on in the game.
Also, against the Seahawks last Saturday, he could not field a short kickoff which allowed Seattle to recover the ball, giving him two turnovers in two games.
But, Shields is strong, fast and physical. He will get his shot in the nickel formation as the third corner on defense. Shields was impressive in pass defense.
"We just think we've got to give him a chance to show what he can do," said Defensive Cordinator Dom Capers.
4. Secondary injuries: How will it play out?
Veteran pro bowl cornerback Al Harris will likely not be ready for the season opener on September 12th.
Harris is still recovering from major knee surgery, and his plan to return before the first game is not going according to schedule.
He was unable to pass a physical and for now, Harris remains on the physcially unable to perform list.
A resonable expectation is for Harris to be activated within the next two weeks so he can begin practicing with the team.
As it stands now, Tramon Williams will remain the starting cornerback opposite Charles Woodson, while Brandon Underwood plays in the nickel.
Starting strong safety Atari Bigby is also out and could miss four to eight weeks, after having surgery on his ankle. Rookie Morgan Burnett is expected to start in his replace to begin the season.
Either way, the Packers have questions in the secondary.
3. Daryn Colledge and Bryan Bulaga: Who will start at left guard?
One of the biggest offensive battles for the Packers is at left guard. Daryn Colledge is first on the depth chart, but is getting all he can handle from first round pick Bryan Bulaga out of Iowa.
Bulaga is making the move from tackle to guard in hopes of getting some quick playing time. He was drafted in the first round with the 23rd pick overall.
Colledge is at the top of the depth chart for now, but both players are seeing equal playing time at the position this preseason.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he hopes to have the starting rotation by the third preseason game, but is in no hurry.
They play Indianapolis on Thursday August 26th.
2. Tight End Jermichael Finley: How good is he?
Tight end Jermichael Finley is starting to become quarterback Aaron Rodgers top target.
Finley is only 23 years old. He has the size, strength and speed for a tight end that blows up traditional defensive coverage schemes.
Packers Hall of Fame tight end and current radio host Mark Chmura called Finley a "moron," and said he should shut his mouth.
But, with the way Finley is playing and has continued to play, he can say whatever he wants.
He is a defensive cordinator's nightmare. Finley is 6'5'' and 247 pounds. Cornerbacks cannot match up with his physical play and he can also use his speed and run past opposing linebackers.
In limited preseason action, Finley has six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
"All you've got to do, and I'm going to tell you the truth here, is put the ball in the air and we'll be successful," Finley said.
1. Quarterback Rodgers: NFL MVP?
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is an early favorite to win the NFL MVP this season.
He has a load of talent on offense that features 1,200 yard rusher Ryan Grant, two receivers that had over 1,000 yards receiving in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, as well as a young tight end in Jermichael Finley that is emerging into a top target.
Rodgers threw for more than 4,400 yards last season and 30 touchdowns, and quite frankly, those numbers will improve.
In two preseason games, he has a passer rating of 154.0. A perfect passer rating is 158.3. Rodgers has completed 20 of 24 passes for three touchdwons and no sacks.
He will be one of the top quarterbacks in the league season, and it shouldn't surprise people if Rodgers wins the NFL MVP award.