Our first glimpse of the 2013 Green Bay Packers comes via Family Night. A fun tradition, which brings communion to the players and fans. It's a fun festival, of sorts. Throughout the years, on Family Night, we've seen a number of players who set the tone for their careers. Though it is only a glorified practice, it does offer a live look at the players in pads under the lights. Further, it marks the dawn of a new season. We can put the Jeremy Ross dropped punt behind us. We seek a brighter tomorrow. And the present seems to shine bright.
Here's a quick positional breakdown for what I will be looking for:
At QB, I am all-in with BJ Coleman. I want to see his cannon. I want accuracy on a quick slant. I want to see him roll out and unleash the deep ball. At this stage, I'm not overly concerned with his ability to read defenses as that will come, but I want to see him in command. Is he the leader in the huddle? Be the man, BJ. The back-up role is his to lose.
At RB, I am anxious for the toys to be put on display! Showcase Lacy & Franklin. Let Lacy show the faithful what he's made of. Let's see Franklin hopping on the Lambeau turf! While Starks is reportedly looking like the beast who helped carry us to an XLV title, I remain curious as to whether he can make it through the preseason on a healthy note. Alex Green's lifeline might depend on DuJuan Harris' availability. Suddenly, the running back situation in Green Bay is a topic for what is potentially a promising aspect of the roster. I wonder if Pease is hidden in an effort for the Packers to tuck him on the practice squad, much like they did with Coleman last year.
At WR, the Packers are going thru a nail biting evaluation. After the top 3, nothing is set. The injuries to Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey are extremely frustrating. They're missing crucial time for their development. And, thus, the door is wide open for the likes of Jeremy Ross, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White & Omarius Hines. Ross can steal a roster spot via special teams. Boykin needs to repeat his preseason from last year. White has all of the tools, but he's got to put them to use when the lights are on. A week ago, Hines was unsigned. Today, he's going to get a golden opportunity to make a push for a roster spot. With all of this said, I'm shining my spotlight on one man: Tyrone Walker. I absolutely love that he's sporting #83. For those that know me, you know that I idolized Mark Clayton growing up. There's something special about an undersized WR wearing #83. Walker stands 5'10. He's 191 lbs. The door is wide-open for him to make a run at the roster. Though I've never seen him in person, I'm calling my shot: Tyrone Walker is my sleeper to make the 2013 Packers roster. Excited to see him on Family Night.
At TE, I'm really interested in seeing 3 guys: Andrew Quarless, Matthew Mulligan and Brandon Bostick. If Quarless is healthy, he's going to make the team. Has he recovered? I was disappointed to hear that he was held out of practice. I'm curious as to whether he plays on Family Night.
Two years ago, the Packers selected DJ Williams. I thought Ted Thompson had drafted a 5th round steal. Williams has been an absolute disappointment. Can Bostick get down the seam and make the play in traffic? So far, Williams has failed to make an impact. At some point, Bostick will get his chance. Carpe diem, Brandon. Finally, when the Packers lost Tom Crabtree, they lost their best blocking TE. This is Matthew Mulligan's specialty. Thus far, Ryan Taylor has been just another guy. With the Packers newly found commitment to the run game, Mulligan is staring a roster spot in the face. I'm excited to see him playing a blocking H-Back role. Can he open up holes and sustain his block?
On the OL, I am curious about two things:
1.) Is Barclay able to play Center?
2.) How does David Bakhtiari hold up?
I'm pulling for the starting OL to be Bulaga, Sitton, Barclay, Lang, and Bakhtiari. It's our best opportunity for creating a bruising running game. Sitton has displayed continuity with Bulaga and Barclay in the past. Barclay has the strength, athleticism and wit to play the position, but can he learn the role in a short time frame? He's never played the position before. It seems like a tall task. I like Marshall Newhouse. He's full of class. He's a decent pass blocker, but he has never emerged as a run blocker. Bakhtiari has been a bright spot in camp. Go win the job, David!
On the DL, I cannot wait to see Datone Jones go beastly. Curious as to whether he lines up next to Perry or CM3. With Ryan Pickett nearing the end of his time in Green Bay (he's a FA after this year), the Packers must have a contingency plan. Gilbert Pena is in camp to compete for a roster spot - possibly on the practice squad. In the XLV run, Howard Green played a huge role. Pena carries a similar stature to Green. The Big Beefy lineup that included both Pickett & Green was an integral component to a defense that grew into a Champion. Can Pena earn a similar role in a crowded unit?
Also, on the DL, the Packers have failed to generate any pressure over the last two years. The interior of the line has been stymied in crucial situations. BJ Raji needs help. And, while Jones is the answer, Raji is a FA after this year. The Packers need depth. Mike Daniels has flashed the ability to handle the role, but the Packers need more consistency out of him. His brute strength could be a difference maker. Also, Josh Boyd was drafted to be an interior presence. He has a bull rush that can move the line. Does it translate at the next level?
At OLB, I want to see Nick Perry drop into space. I want to see him be a bruiser on the outside. I want to see multiple moves outside of the bull rush. Has he learned the CM3 patented duck-under move? What has he added to his arsenal?
For years, McCarthy has stressed availability. Suddenly, Nate Palmer and Dezman Moses are injured. Though Palmer has returned to the practice field, every snap is crucial for him. Every year, the Packers have an UDFA who elevates during the preseason and propels himself into a prominent role on the team. This year, it would appear that OLB is a prime position for that to happen. Prior to the first OTA, my money was on Andy Mulumba. He's going to get his chance. Immediately. So will Donte Savage and Jarvis Reed. All have ideal height-weight combinations. Can any of them hold the edge, pressure the QB and drop in coverage? I will be tuned in.
At ILB, I have been waiting 4 years for someone to supplant AJ Hawk. And, while it's not happening this year, I don't think it's far fetched to see someone steal snaps from him this year. I believe in Jamari Lattimore. He's a former OLB who could pressure the QB. I am excited to see him come on an inside blitz. It seems as though he should be a natural as an extra man on the blitz. I want to see his recognition. How does he drop in coverage? He showed glimpses of goodness in the preseason last year. He's battling illness. I hope he's on the field on Family Night. Last year, Terrell Manning often found himself sucked in and gobbled up by FB's and OL. I was thrilled with his selection last year. I'm hoping he plays with better awareness. Also, don't forget about Robert Francois who was a prominent special teams player and played admirably in his 2 games a ILB in '11. Finally, for the first time, I'll get a chance to see Sam Barrington. He's foreign to me.
At CB, I have to believe that T-Mon, Sammy Swagga, Show-Case, Ras House, Micah Hyde, and J-Bush are locks to make the team. But, the safety position, the Packers are looking awfully thin. After Burnett, Jennings and McMillan, we are left with a bunch of no-names. Sean Richardson is still injured. So we are left to find out: Who are David Fulton, Chris Banjo, and Chaz Powell? I watch a lot of football. I know nothing about any of them. Yet it remains conceivable that one of them will be on the Week 1 roster. Kinda crazy.
I'm stoked for my first look of the 2013 team. It's upon us, G-Force. Pump up the volume!
Go Pack Go!