Green Bay Packers vs. Indianapolis Colts: 5 Green Bay Situations to Watch for
The Packers will play their third preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts Friday night. The Packers starters will see their lengthiest stint of the preseason as the third preseason game is treated as a dress rehearsal.
It is not known how much the starters will play against the Chiefs, but last season Aaron Rodgers was not even on the trip. This will be the last time the starters see significant action before taking the field against the New Orleans Saints on opening night.
The starters will probably play through the first half and the second stringers will begin the second half. Matt Flynn will probably play the third quarter with Graham Harrell getting the go-ahead in the fourth quarter.
The Colts will be without Peyton Manning and have been plagued with horrible quarterback play. The Packers may not be heavily tested by the Colts—as they been horrendous in preseason in recent years—but maintaining focus is key.
Here are five important situations to pay attention to as you watch the game.
Aaron Rodgers, the Offensive Rhythm
Throughout the limited series in the preseason, the Packers' No. 1 offense has seen five series and scored touchdowns on two of them. Both touchdowns came when the offense implemented the no-huddle offense. Aaron Rodgers was much crisper and decisive moving the ball down the field without any problems.
Although it is tough to get into a rhythm in preseason games, it would be nice to see the Packers offense string together a couple of nice drives before taking the bench.
Rodgers needs to spread the ball around and incorporate more of his playmakers. He may be forced into this as Greg Jennings is questionable with a bruised knee and Randall Cobb will be inactive with two knee bruises.
In an attempt to maximize Rodgers' playing time, the Packers have gone heavily to the air during these five series. It will interesting to see if the Packers mix things up with more rushing attempts. Ryan Grant and James Starks may both see time with Rodgers and the No. 1 offense.
Chastin West, Other Wide Receivers
Chastin West's 97-yard touchdown against the Cardinals has heightened his publicity and expectations. He will get a great opportunity to build on his performance and move closer to ensuring his spot on the roster as Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb may be out of action with bruised knees.
West has been getting reps with Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense this week and should get reps in the first half. The Packers were initially expected to only keep five wide receivers, but West has stated his case in practice and with a great showing against the Cardinals.
Another wide receiver to keep an eye on his Tori Gurley. He brings height to the table, standing as the tallest wide receiver on the Packers roster. He has also had a good camp but was overshadowed by West's big night.
West is unlikely to make it through waivers and onto the practice squad. If the Packers want to keep him around to see his development through, they will need to create a roster spot for him. Gurley is more likely to make it through waivers and is a great practice squad candidate.
The Packers have ended the battle at left guard and awarded the starting job to T.J. Lang over the rookie Derek Sherrod. Lang getting the nod solidifies the starting five and should add some much-needed consistency.
With the position battle over, Sherrod has now gone back to taking snaps at his natural left tackle position behind Chad Clifton. The starting offensive line will have a great opportunity to build chemistry with some provided consistency at left guard. It is important that they keep Rodgers off the turf.
So far in the preseason, the backup offensive lines have been down right awful. Repeatedly they have left Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell running for their lives. With another week of practice behind them, it is important the line keeps these two healthy.
It is true that the second and third lines have a difficult disadvantage with a lack of continuity. Even with this, they need to be able to do their jobs and provide the Packers quarterbacks with protection and proper blocking for the running backs.
James Starks vs. Ryan Grant
James Starks returned to practice this week and hopes to play against the Colts. With his ankle injury, Starks lost valuable time in his battle for the starting job against Ryan Grant but has an opportunity to build back that momentum.
It is expected that the two backs will split opportunities and see time with the No. 1 offense. Starks ran the ball extremely well and with great vision on his two carries against the Browns before injuring his ankle. Grant had limited opportunities in that game and did an average job against the Cardinals.
If Starks is going to make a run at starting Week 1, he will need to have a huge game and impress the coaching staff. Grant will maintain his starting role with a solid performance and anything but an exceptional night out of Starks.
Another back to watch is Dimitri Nance. At the beginning of camp, Nance was the forgotten man and it seemed as if he was just another camp body. An excellent camp has brought Nance's name back into the mix, but the lack of a roster spot still remains. He still needs to improve his pass blocking but has made great strides.
Jarius Wynn, the Defensive Line
Jarius Wynn looks to start against the Colts on the defensive line in place of C.J. Wilson, who was filling in for Mike Neal. The Packers have gotten extremely thin on the defensive line with a knee injury keeping Neal out and a concussion preventing Wilson from suiting up.
Wynn is on the bubble and has a great opportunity to prove he deserves a spot. He is likely competing with Lawrence Guy for the last spot on the line. Guy is also out with a concussion with an unknown time frame for his return.
With the injuries already impacting the line, the Packers could look to the waiver-wire for a defensive lineman after cuts take place on Sept. 3. Wynn has a shot to convince the Packers front office that his can be the player it is looking for.
He will be working with B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett to start the guy and should benefit from the talent those two bring to the table. He should see more time than most of the starters due to the limited depth at the position.