Preseason Review/Preview: Physical Play Personifies Packers

Aren DowCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2008

After the months of drama, many Packer fans felt the same way as Aaron Rodgers. It was good to finally see actual football being played.

The Packers' first team impressed those outside the Green Bay fanbase and confirmed opinions of those in it. Fans that watched the incredible season last year knew why the Packers were so dangerous.

From the physical play of the receivers, to the dominant defense, there were many reasons besides Favre that were why the Packers triumphed in '07. Monday night was just a continuation of that.

Packer fans cheered ecstatically as James Jones pulled off his "fairly manly" touchdown. Hell, even Mike McCarthy managed to crack a smile. That was just the cherry on top, as the rest of receiving corps manhandled the Bengals' secondary.

Before the touchdown, Donald Driver high-stepped his way past a defender, then forearmed another out of his shoes. Ruvell Martin continued his impressive offseason with a catch over a defender and squeezed out several more yards after a broken tackle.

The defense was just as relentless. A.J. Hawk prevented a first down by knocking a ball out of a receiver's hand. Backup Tramon Williams stripped "Ocho Cinco" himself of a catch.

Oh yes, it was exciting to watch.

There was definitely room for improvement, as there will be with every preseason game. Here are a few things I will be looking for during the 'Niners game on Saturday. As with every preseason game, it is about individual performances.



One thing I had heard throughout the offseason was how the defense had practiced blitzing more and more. Not only did I notice a lack of blitzing, pressure was hard to come by at all. I would love to see how the Packers can pull of the blitz, something I thought they needed last year.


Rookies stepping up

Jordy Nelson is going to have a hard time overcoming the stellar receivers in front of him, but he still is putting it all out on the line. I love that. The two guys I am going to really keep an eye on, though, are Patrick Lee and Matt Flynn.

Lee can step up in the absence of Harris and Woodson and fight for the nickel spot. There is quite the competition between Williams, Blackmon, Bush, and Lee, and a couple of impressive games would go a long way.

Flynn looked more poised than Brohm, making better decisions and is evidently challenging him for the No. 2 spot. Shots down the field are what seemed to be a weakness, with only one pass over 10 yards.


Follow-up performances

Aaron Rodgers, Abdul Hodge, and Brandon Jackson all stepped up and exceeded the opinions of many fans. Hodge and Jackson can provide great depth if they provide the same level of play.

Hodge could be fighting for his job here, as he has been with the team for three years, and the Chillar signing could be another indication of how close Abdul is on his way out.  

I liked how Rodgers spread the ball around, giving every receiver a chance. For Saturday, longer playing time and getting those passes down would be nice. What I really want to see is how Rodgers handles the two minute drill.


Linebacker coverage

Guarding tight ends was a relative weakness last year, and Vernon Davis presents a challenge that they need. Look for Hawk, Poppinga, or Chillar in coverage against Davis for those third-down situations and see who steps up.

Green Bay's first team should have no problems handling San Francisco. The 'Niners have been stuck with Mike Nolan and are in-between quarterbacks at the moment. If the defense can handle Palmer, O'Sulllivan/Smith shouldn't be a problem.

The 'Niners' defense is no better than Cincinnati's, which means another relatively easy outing for Rodgers.

Prediction: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 13