The Green Bay Packers open their exhibition season against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. NFL exhibition games are usually about as entertaining as darning socks, but if you manage to make it through the entire ordeal, here are five things to watch from a Packers perspective:
First and foremost — before any heated position battles or players you’re hoping to get a peek at during live game action — make sure you pray to whatever God you typically pray to that the Packers survive this first exhibition game with minimal injuries. The Packers have already lost Jared Abbrederis and Don Barclay for the season with ACL tears. Morgan Burnett is on the shelf with an oblique strain, an injury that can take a long time to heal. The Packers have been one of the most injury-ravaged teams in the NFL over the last five seasons. Enough is enough. Stay healthy, guys.
With Morgan Burnett back in Green Bay recovering from an oblique strain, the Packers young safeties will have an opportunity to stand out. Sean Richardson has been a camp standout so far and wants to prove that he’s more than a box safety. Micah Hyde has lined up as a starter since minicamp and needs to prove that he’s made the transition from slot corner to a starting NFL safety. It seems like rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is being brought along slowly. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m sure he’d like to make an impact and speed up the process of him entering the starting lineup. Finally, don’t forget about guys like Chris Banjo and Tanner Miller. After last season’s dismal performance, the Packers safety position battle is wide open. Nobody should be counted out.
Richard Rodgers vs. Brandon Bostick
Yeah, it’s probably going to be tight end by committee for the Packers this season, but someone on that committee needs to provide some type of down-the-seam threat like Jermichael Finley did. They don’t have to do everything Finley did, but at least show enough that teams have to pay attention to a tight end zipping through the seam. Early reports on Rodgers indicate he’s lost weight and is much faster than the 4.87 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL combine. Bostick showed he has the athleticism to be a downfield threat, but his hands are iffy. We’ll see if either player rises above the other on Saturday, and how the other, more traditional tight ends in the Packers’ rotation fit.
Mike McCarthy has been talking up Tretter ever since the Packers let Evan Dietrich-Smith walk. Now we’ll see if Tretter, who missed all of last season after breaking his ankle in an offseason fumble recovery drill, wins the starting job and puts a halt to the Packers’ carousel of rotating centers for a couple of seasons. If Tretter is shaky, keep an eye on rookie Corey Linsley. He sounds like an unpolished bruiser.
I’ve had my eye on Barrington ever since the Packers drafted him the 7th round in 2013. I think he can play and will challenge Brad Jones for one of the two inside linebacker starting slots before the season is over. I haven’t heard much about Barrington in training camp, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he looks in the exhibition opener. So far, I’m the only person on this kid’s bandwagon. After Saturday, will I have company or will I be leaping off?