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Green Bay Packers 2011 Predictions: Starting Lineups for Week 1

Matt SmithContributor IIIAugust 2, 2011

Green Bay Packers 2011 Predictions: Starting Lineups for Week 1

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    After the lockout ended, the Packers did what many expected them to do: re-sign a couple players and not make too much of a splash in free agency.

    That said, much of the lineup from the Super Bowl will stay the same.

    However, there was the draft. The later rounds may not have as much of an impact, but the first few rounds could.

    In addition to all that, the Packers have an enormous amount of people returning from injuries.

    Add that to the fact that the Packers didn't retain all their free agents, and the lineup will slightly differ.

    So who'll be the starters for Week 1?

QB: Aaron Rodgers

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    Could it really be anyone else?

    Rodgers should have another great season with all the weapons the Packers have.

    Matt Flynn is a great backup and might resume this spot later in the season if Rodgers has a concussion.

RB: Ryan Grant

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    Though there was a ton of speculation that James Starks would assume the starting role, Ryan Grant opened camp as the starter, according to Scout.com.

    This position battle will be monitored heavily, as Starks is a capable running back, but Grant should emerge as the starter.

    Before his injury, Grant put together consecutive 1,200-yard seasons.

    Grant won't put together another 1,200-yard season because of the emergence of Starks, but he should get the majority of carries.

FB: John Kuhn

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    Kuhn is the Packers' best and most versatile fullback, so if any fullback is going to get carries, it'll be him.

    You could argue that Quinn Johnson might actually get the start because his bone-jarring blocks come in handy when it's a run play.

    However, it's the Green Bay Folk Hero who should get the start and will be doing the most on the field.

WR1: Greg Jennings

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    This is another no-brainer.

    Greg Jennings, who will turn 28 a few weeks into the season, is a stud of a receiver.

    Jennings had 76 catches for 1265 yards and 12 TDs.

    He also recorded 21 receptions for 303 yards and 2 TDs in the playoffs.

    It might be a smart idea to pick him up for your fantasy football team.

WR2: Donald Driver

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    Donald Driver is nearing the end of his illustrious career, but he still has a few years left in the tank.

    Though James Jones often lined up opposite Jennings and Driver manned the slot, Driver will still technically be the No. 2 WR.

    Driver will become the Packers' all-time receiving leader in yards this year.

TE: Jermichael Finley

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    Though Green Bay is stacked at the tight end position, Jermichael Finley is by far the best of them.

    Finley hasn't fully practiced, as Mike McCarthy is limiting him (go down to the bullet point section to see the post) and easing him back into practice.

    Finley could very well break the 1,000 yard barrier, as he was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 yards before succumbing to the injury bug that brought down so many other Packers.

    A former third-round pick, Finley is on the verge of shattering expectations set for third-rounders.

    He just has to stay healthy first.

T: Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga

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    Even at 35 years old, LT Chad Clifton can still play at a high level.

    Just last year, he was voted to the Pro Bowl. If Clifton comes near Pro Bowl level again, the Packers would have to be happy.

    On the right side will be second-year pro Bryan Bulaga.

    After Mark Tauscher went down, Bulaga resumed the starting role and never looked back.

    The former Hawkeye wasn't stellar in his play, but expect him to improve with experience.

G: T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton

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    Ted Thompson really knows how to find value in a draft.

    The NFL Alumni Association's Offensive Lineman of the Year was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

    RG Sitton is only 25 and is one of the best guards in the league.

    The left guard position is up for grabs, with 2011 first-round selection Derek Sherrod and 2009 fourth-round selection T.J. Lang duking it out.

    Sherrod opened camp as the starting left guard, but by the time the preseason is over I expect T.J. Lang to have seized the job.

    Sherrod's consolation prize will be backing up both tackles, as that was the position he played in college.

C: Scott Wells

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    Another late-round gem, Wells was selected in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft and has been the starter since 2006.

    Wells is extremely durable and should be the starting center for a few more years.

    No doubt here, as there really isn't anyone who could unseat Wells this year.

DE: C.J. Wilson, Ryan Pickett

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    If after last year's draft I were to tell you that in a year, Green Bay's seventh-round pick would be starting, you probably would have laughed at me.

    Well folks, here he is, primed to start at the beginning of next season.

    Wilson will start out the season as one of the starting DE's mainly because DE Mike Neal will not be fully healthy until October.

    On the other side will be Ryan Pickett, an eleven-year veteran out of Ohio State.

    Pickett is a solid player who won't wow you, but will do his job.

DT: B.J. Raji

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    B.J. Raji was a first-round pick in 2009 and is starting to live up to those expectations.

    Raji gained much publicity after his game-winning interception and touchdown dance.

    "The Freezer" is a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the defensive line.

    After recording 6.5 sacks and improving greatly last season, Raji hopes to make several more strides in his quest for his first Pro Bowl.

MLB: A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop

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    Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are so confident is Desmond Bishop that they let Nick Barnett go.

    With the numbers he put up, who wouldn't be? Bishop had over 100 tackles despite not starting the entire season.

    The other middle linebacker, A.J. Hawk, also had over 100 tackles on the year.

    This figures to be an outstanding middle linebacker pair.

OLB: Clay Matthews, Erik Walden

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    Clay Matthews, obviously, will be the starter on the left side. He will command double teams.

    On the right side, there seems to be a three-way battle between Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Brad Jones.

    Zombo was an undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan who performed well but not great when given the starting job. Zombo injured his knee during the season.

    Jones also played well but not great before going down to injury.

    Walden had one great game vs. the Bears but the rest were mediocre. Like the others, he was also injured at one point in the season.

    This decision will likely come down to who plays best in preseason games, and I figure that will be Walden.

CB: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams

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    The Packers have a trio of outstanding cornerbacks, but Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson are the best.

    Though Charles Woodson is aging, he is one of the most complete cornerbacks in the game. He can cover, blitz, and defend against the run.

    On the other side is breakout cornerback Tramon Williams.

    Williams, a former UDFA, is a late bloomer who was an excellent defender. He had 20 passes defended and six interceptions in the regular season.

FS: Nick Collins

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    Six years after scouts said he was drafted too high, Collins has become one of the best safeties in the league.

    I'm sure you all remember the pivotal interception he made after Howard Green hit Ben Roethlisberger and forced an errant throw.

    Nonetheless, Collins is in no trouble of losing his starting job.

SS: Charlie Peprah

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    Morgan Burnett, then a rookie, opened last year as the starter. When he went down to injury, Peprah filled in admirably.

    Green Bay seems to like Burnett, as they traded up in last year's draft to get him, but it still seems as if he isn't fully healthy.

    Peprah has more experience and hasn't been injured, so he seems like a good bet to start in Week 1.

    Plus, they wouldn't have re-signed him for nothing.

Offense

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    QB: Aaron Rodgers

    RB: Ryan Grant

    FB: John Kuhn

    WR1: Greg Jennings

    WR2: Donald Driver

    TE: Jermichael Finley

    LT: Chad Clifton

    LG: T.J. Lang

    C: Scott Wells

    RG: Josh Sitton

    RT: Bryan Bulaga

Defense

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    LE: Ryan Pickett

    DT: B.J. Raji

    RE: C.J. Wilson

    LOLB: Clay Matthews

    MLB: Desmond Bishop

    MLB: A.J. Hawk

    ROLB: Erik Walden

    CB: Tramon Williams

    CB: Charles Woodson

    FS: Nick Collins

    SS: Charlie Peprah

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