The heart needs to relax. I sip a New Glarus Apple Ale that has been resting for roughly 10 months. It still has a tremendous fruit buzz, but some of the carbonation has settled down. This beer does not need to age. It's great at the time of purchasing, but sometimes it's fun to watch the way a beer evolves over time. I'm surprised that the fruitiness didn't diminish much. I love the New Glarus Brewery.
The heart also needs a fiery spirit. I listen to Michael Franti's "YELL FIRE" album. Franti is my musical guru. He guides me with passion. Over the last 15 years, our lives have seemed to have followed similar paths. I deeply connect with his music.
I went to Pittsburgh to see the Packers Week 2 preseason game. Here are some of my quick vibes:
* Had to love the way that the offense came shooting out of the gates. Quick precision. Rodgers using his tools. Starks and Lacy hitting holes on a mission. In true attack mode. Rodgers surveying the field with a run or pass option. And the MVP was seeing the field as though he was in mid-season form.
* John Kuhn is a lock to make this team. His blocking was exceptional. With the Nelson injury, we'll see more of Kuhn than we thought we'd see out of him in 2015. I expect to see a bunch of two-back sets. Might even see Kuhn catching the ball 15-20 times this year. By comparison, he caught 4 balls last year.
* I LOVE JORDY NELSON. After the Lacy TD, Nelson was the first player on the field to congratulate Lacy. I was certain that there was nothing wrong with him. What a crushing blow. But, more on this later.
* Richard Rodgers! Wrote last week that I thought he'd score 6-8 TD's this year. It might be 8-10. Love the way he sat down and used his wingspan. His diving 6-yard catch to start the final drive of the 2nd half was a thing of beauty. Great hands. Used his body well. Presented a wide target for Tolzien. We haven't seen that type of play out of a TE since Chmura's injury. True safety valve play by Rodgers. And, then, it was really nice to see him get loose for the 21 yard TD at the end of the half. I expect Rodgers to have a big year catching the football. The jury is still out on him as a blocker, but he's developing into a legitimate receiving threat.
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
* The Kuhn block on the EDDIE TD was absolutely exceptional!
* Aaron Ripkowski can play special teams. Period.
* I like when Starks hits the hole with conviction!
* Alonzo Harris did himself no favors. Two horrible drops. The first one would have been a 41-yard TD. There was no one in front of him. Great play call. Great play design. Couldn't believe Harris dropped that pass.
* Rajion Neal showing decent burst. After the two Harris drops, I moved Neal above Harris on my depth chart.
* Crockett isn't making the 53-man team.
* Scott Tolzien. Solidifying himself - once again - as a legitimate #2 QB. Shows good command of the offense. Throws a decent ball. Stands with confidence.
* Brett Hundley will have days like that during his development. Especially if his OL fails him.
* Donny Barclay. Oh boy. Not his best performance. He's off to a terrible start to the preseason.
* Matt Rotheram showed good strength. Holds his point at the line really well. Needs to improve his footwork and can't transition to a RT at this stage, but it's possible that someday he'll be able to make that move.
* At this stage, Josh Walker is solely a Guard.
* Oh Heavenly Father, please ensure that our OL stays healthy this year. Get well, Sitton, Lang and Bakhtiari.
* Lane Taylor showed the same kind of fight that landed him on the roster the last two years.
* Great to see Randall Cobb operating out of the slot in wizardly fashion.
* Davante Adams looks fit. Slender. Strong. Athletic. Confident.
* Jeff Janis. It's time to RISE UP, young man. Janis looks like Nelson in his uniform. He runs in a similar fashion as well. He's our best option as a deep route runner. But, does the MVP trust him? They clearly aren't in lock-step like Nelson and Rodgers are. And, that won't be developed overnight. But, the Packers need to trust Janis early on. He's has all of the physical ability. It's in the Packers best interest to see what they have in him early and often.
* Rodgers seems to believe in Myles White. White has not done himself many favors over the first 2 preseason game. It'll be interesting to see if Rodgers' confidence in White earns him a roster spot.
* Wanted to see more out of Ty Montgomery. He wasn't open much. Runs decent routes. Gets low in his cuts. Didn't show much separation. Hence, I believe Janis is the best option as the #3 WR on the outside.
* Can Jared Abbrederis get healthy? If so, he's got a great opportunity in front of him.
* I'm impressed with Larry Pinkard. He'll be on someone's practice squad this year. And, it wouldn't shock me if he makes a 53-man roster somewhere. Runs solid routes. Catches with his hands. Has the physique.
* Kennard Backman. At this stage, I have him as the 3rd TE. Moves well. Clearly, he's the most athletic of the TE's competing for the #3 spot. And, he might be the most athletic TE on the roster. Without question, he's a developmental prospect. But, he has the most upside out of anyone that he's competing with for the #3 spot.
* The most concerning thing of the game was how slow the Packers looked off the snap. Outside of Gaston and Pennel, the Packers DL looked really slow off the snap. Seemed tired. Caught in the heat. Sure, it was a preseason game, but still cause for concern when considering that the Packers open at noon in Chicago. A game in which you can bet that the Bears will be looking to pound the ball at the heart of the Packers defense.
* Mike Pennel. Yes, Mike Pennel was the most impressive DL for the Packers. He really held the point of attack. Showed great push in the run game early on. Also, he collapsed the pocket on the Randall interception.
* As I write, Bruce Gaston is on my 53-man roster. He's been persistent. He's been aggressive. He's been a bruiser. 2 QB Hits. 1 Sack. 1 Tackle for Loss. He's been a great competitor.
* Datone Jones looked really good in limited reps. Looks like he's bigger than last year. Carrying more weight. And, he looks determined. Let's hope he's turned a corner.
* Christian Ringo is making the 53-man roster. Shows good effort. Has a decent push. Gets underneath his blocker. Moves his legs with persistency. Collapses the line.
* Jayrone Elliott didn't have the burst off the line of scrimmage that I wanted to see, but he gives effort. He's determined. And, he can turn the corner.
* Liked to see Adrian Hubbard fight for the loose ball on the fumble recovery. But, is he tough enough? I can't figure him out.
* Nate Palmer can't be an every down linebacker. Thought he showed OK at times, but then he was absolutely exposed.
* Carl Bradford. I'm really surprised that he didn't turn into a solid NFL player. It's year 2 and I've already given up. Man, I was high on him before he was drafted.
* Mike Neal. Moved backwards. Lost his fight. He'll show better as he gets into game shape.
* Tavarus Dantzler. Really liked watching him run down the field on special teams. Sought contact. Delivered punishment.
* Mentioned previously that James Vaughters was better suited for ILB in a 3-4 or OLB in a 4-3. Was happy to see that he was moved inside during practice this week.
* Jermauria Rasco. He's shown me enough to warrant a spot on the Practice Squad. Really good length. Shows flashes that make you yearn for more consistency.
* I get the feeling that the Packers organization is really pulling for Joe Thomas to do something special. He brings a physical mentality that this team needs.
* Sam Barrington looks so much more confident. He also looks comfortable. Loving the way he's wrapping up.
* LaDarius Gunter! _! He looked like a total MAN out there. Covering the crossing routes. Jamming WR's at the line. Covering the deep route and getting his head turned to see the ball. He's a lock to make this roster.
* Quinten Rollins. Stay confident, young man. You'll have better days.
* Damarious Randall. Really, really impressive performance from the 1st round pick. Sure, the pick was phenomenal, but I was more excited about the open field tackle on Bell. Looked like a natural.
* HaHa Clinton Dix. Two games in a row that he's had himself in position. He's attacked like he was Brian Dawkins. And then he's whiffed. On multiple occasions.
* Sean Richardson will make the team because he signed a rich contract, but the Packers need more out of him if he's expected to see the field during the Regular Season. He looks slow and unaware.
* Tim Masthay. Disgusting. Mason Crosby. Brilliant!
* Man, Jordy Nelson. Ouch. The injury cannot be overstated. Not only is he the master of the "shot-play", but he's so in sync with the MVP. The back-shoulder play. He's a gamer. He's a big play constant. He's bailed Rodgers out on many 3rd downs. He's a top-5 WR in the NFL. Get healthy, Jordy. We'll miss you. Greatly.
* Look for McCarthy to design more formations to utilize 2 TE's. Look for more 2-back sets. I expect to see Janis get the first crack on the outside. Look for more formations in which Montgomery and/or Cobb are used in the backfield to confuse defensive coordinators. Look for Lacy to have an absolutely monster year.
It's the Week 3 preseason game. Against the Eagles. With all of the injuries on the OL, I wouldn't play Rodgers. I'd sit him. With Tolzien injured, I'd give the game to Hundley. Let him operate. Give him the reps. Let him play the first 3 Quarters. Hand the ball to Blanchard in the 4th Quarter. I'd also rest Bulaga and Linsley. I'd do the same with Cobb, Adams and Lacy. I'd consider doing the same with Starks. Let's keep our OL, Lacy, Cobb, Adams and the MVP at 100% entering into the Regular Season.
Be festive, Lambeau. Treat it as though it's a regular season game. Let's make it a special season. It starts on Saturday night. Kick it off with volume. Look for Hundley to settle in nicely and move the football. He hits Janis on a deep ball. He hits Pinkley on a deep out. He finds the dump down to Backman.
Elliott grabs a sack. YELLOW JAKE shows up like he did in the first preseason game. Rollins gets back on track and grabs a pick. The swagger is abundant at Lambeau!
Packers 20. Eagles 16.
Go Pack Go!