Green Bay Packers: Who Should Sit and Start Before the Playoffs Begin
There are only two weeks left before the playoffs begin, and the Green Bay Packers are in a good position to experiment a little bit.
Another win by the Packers or another loss by the San Francisco 49ers would give Green Bay the No.1 seed, but I don't think waiting until the last week would be good considering these certain players will need more time to impress.
Should the Packers rack up a big first-half lead against the Chicago Bears on Christmas day, these are the players Green Bay should sit, and the ones they should start, in the time left before the playoffs.
Sit: Chad Clifton
There's a chance Clifton can start this week, which would be his first NFL Action since going down with a torn hamstring in Week 5. There was a possibility that Clifton would end up on injured reserve, but good ol' Mike McCarthy stuck with him and it looks like he will play again this season.
But seeing how things have unfolded at the left tackle position, there's absolutely no way the Packers can risk letting Clifton re-aggravate his hamstring.
Marshall Newhouse has filled in admirably as a backup, especially for someone who spent his rookie season on injured reserve and didn't have a chance work out with the team during the offseason.
But clearly Newhouse is no match for some of the big name pass rushers in the game, and seeing him in a one-on-one battle with DeMarcus Ware, Aldon Smith or possibly even Jason Babin could mean some serious trouble for Aaron Rodgers.
Sit Clifton. The guy was remarkable in last year's postseason run—we'll need an encore performance for sure this year.
Start: Vic So'oto
This is one is obvious, because it's been talked about all stinking season long and still hasn't happened yet.
In my opinion, Green Bay's pass coverage has improved a great deal since Week 2, going from worst in the league to at least an average coverage unit. The real problem has been how opposing quarterbacks have had so much time in the pocket.
If you don't believe me, just watch the Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game. Kyle Orton faced the Packers earlier in the season and threw three interceptions. In a Chiefs uniform, he threw for 300 yards and never gave up the football.
Orton had, at times, up to five seconds or more inside the pocket. A four-man rush simply didn't cut it.
So'oto was a star in the preseason, and it's about time the Packers took a calculated chance on him. Any added pass rush will be needed against an offensive line like the New Orleans Saints have.
Sit: James Starks
My gut is telling me that Starks will make it this week, and will remain healthy throughout the remainder of the season. If I were coach, I'd start him.
Problem is, my gut has been wrong before.
Starks provides something so much more to the team than just a run game, in my opinion. We can use Ryan Grant for that.
What separates Starks from Grant is that he is someone who brings a viable third down option to the team, something that the Packers lacked a great deal of in their matchup against Kansas City.
Start: Brandon Saine
Like Starks, Brandon Saine is becoming a third down option for the Packers. In fact, I'm gonna to go out on a limb and predict that these two are going to become a third down duo in the Packers' future plans.
Saine has played like a more explosive version of John Kuhn, and Rodgers says he believes Saine may have the best hands of anyone on the team.
Despite his having a concussion, Saine needs to learn the offense as best as he can, while he can. If the Packers can establish him as a better player on third downs, he could potentially play a major role in Green Bay's postseason run.
Sit: Bryan Bulaga
There is absolutely no way the Packers should start someone who has injured his knee twice this season.
Bulaga is making a case for being one of the best right tackles in the game, and to possibly lose him before the playoffs would be astronomically devastating.
Sit Bulaga. It's that simple.
Start: Josh Sitton
Considering how the Packers should sit their two tackles, I think that will leave them with enough depth on the roster to put Josh Sitton back in.
Sitton hasn't been his old self this season, and he needs to be given a chance to get back into his groove.
Activate: Tori Gurley
There's a reason the team agreed to pay Tori Gurley roster money to stay on the practice squad. Gurley is a 6'4" wide receiver and had the greatest wingspan of any receiver at the combine.
This is a player with a lot of potential, and could possibly be a long-term answer to replace Donald Driver.
In training camp, Gurley was reported to have blocked as many as five punts, and nearly blocked more in a handful of plays in the preseason.
Gurley can add a very unique edge to the Packers on special teams. Imagine him working with Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Jarret Bush, Randall Cobb and Ryan Taylor.
This is a guy that needs to be activated and experimented with while there's still time to do so.