Monday, August 29, 2016

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

The season is anxiously nearing. The Packers look deep at most positions. They look prime for an exciting season. To mellow my mood, I sip an Odd 13 Vincent Van Couch. It's an American Session Sour. 4.7% ABV - after all - it's Monday. So, I need to take it easy. Small citra taste. Slight mosaic scent. Lightly soured. Typically a solid afternoon beer with a hint of carbonation at the close. I listen to the Toots & The Maytals "Flip And Twist" album. It was written in 2010, the XLV year. This album is often overlooked, but I love a soulful new age Toots. He's reflective. He's spiritual. He's diverse. It's not my favorite Toots album, but it shouldn't be passed over. Fans of this Reggae legend should certainly give a listen to how he evolved in his later years. It's smiley and head bopping worthy.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Marwin Evans and Kentrell Brice. They play Legion of Boom style. I'm seriously amazed as I watch them play Safety for the Packers. Both look like they could start in this league. They impress. They play with confidence. When they hit, they command attention. They bring an intensity that our defense has yearned for. Both better be on the 2016 Packers 53-man roster. No way would I keep Banjo over either of them. No chance at all. Evans and Brice have a future in Green Bay. But, if you keep reading, you'll see how I believe the Packers can keep Banjo, Brice and Evans.

* Rodgers to Cook. On the slant. Out of the slot. Hit him on the belt, 12. That was magic. Had me tapping my head with excitement.

* Callahan! I don't care if he ever throws a pass in Green & Gold again. I'll remember him. He played with spark. He played with leadership. He was organized. Great composure. The dart to Abby was spectacular. The pass to Adams - which was dropped - was magnificent. Great playing, Callahan.

* The first-team OL continues to dominate. Off to a great start this preseason. And, EDDIE looks the part.

* Abby locking up a spot. He's playing with confidence and comfort for the first time since arriving in Titletown, U.S.A.

* I can see a scenario in which Adams doesn't make this team. I'd consider keeping Allison over him. Continuously, he hasn't delivered. It's like you hold your breath every time that the ball is thrown his way. It is a 50/50 chance that he catches it. I'd absolutely be talking to teams to see if they were interested in him.

* Liked seeing Allison catch the ball in traffic. And, on the out route. If he doesn't make the 53-man roster, I wonder if he gets claimed before being able to make the Practice Squad.

* Burks > Crockett. Burks has shown burst that we haven't seen since DuJuan Harris in 2012. He has vision. He catches the ball nicely. I have enjoyed his effort as a pass blocker as well.

* Lane Taylor. Damn, man. Need better. Much better. Isn't playing with recognition. Beat to the spot. Whiffing often.

* Kyle Murphy showing well in run blocking. Adequate in pass blocking, too.

* Spriggs. Gulp. Hope he improves. Quickly.

* All kinds of weapons on offense. Richard Rodgers is not one of them.

* Trevor Davis. So close. Yet so far away from making two really big plays. Could've had two TD's. Just missed. Can't coach speed. He has it.

* The Claymaker was as quick as ever. Loved watching him chase down the ball from behind.

* JP looked old. He's destined to solely be used as an interior pass rusher on 3rd down. He was stuck in quicksand on the cut back to his side of the field.

* Mike Daniels continues to show that he's the leader of the defense.

* The Packers should sign Pot Roast Terrance Knighton. They need DL help when Pennel is out. Knighton might not be able to be a force for 16 games, but he'd certainly help over the first 4 games of the year. Especially with Clark being injured and with Lowry appearing as though he'll need time to get accustomed to the NFL speed.

* Kyler Fackrell guaranteed himself a roster spot in the 4th Quarter against SF. Prior to that, he was in a dog fight for a roster spot. Fackrell showed quickness and endurance as a pass rusher. He also displayed creativity with a variety of moves.

* Where is Jayrone Elliott? A complete disappearing act. And, now, an injury. Not sure what to do with him.

* Carl Bradford was, once again, arguably the Packers best ILB. He has to make the team.

* Jermaine Whitehead won't make the 53-man roster, but he should definitely make the Practice Squad. Like the speed and physicality that he plays with.

* Ringo seems to be bringing energy to the DL. Interested to see how the Packers move forward with him.

* Makinton Dorleant got hurt again. Wonder how serious. Suppose it's possible that the Packers make the injury out to be more than it really is, so that they can store him on the IR for the year. Dorleant has shown a lot in limited opportunities. Definitely a developmental talent.

* I've seen zero practices this year, but I've watched the Family Night and 3 preseason games. Thus far, I'm much more impressed with the UDFA class than I am the actual draft class. Reggie Gilbert looks like a really good prospect. Brice & Evans should be locks for the roster. Dorleant and Hawkins are talented CB's. Allison has been solid. Burks has been flashy. Callahan has been to watch. Beniquez Brown should make the Practice Squad.

This is not a prediction. This is what I'd do if I were putting together the Packers 53-man roster:

QB: Rodgers, Hundley.

RB: Lacy, Starks, Ripkowski. With versatility offered by Ty and Cobb, the Packers would be able to only keep 3 RB's. And, keep two RB's on the practice squad in case of emergency.

WR: JORDY, Cobb, Ty, Abby, Janis, Davis, Adams. I'd do everything possible to unload Adams. Even if it were for a 6th round pick. If I were able to deal him, I'd likely keep Allison.

TE: Cook, Richard Rodgers, Justin Perillo.

OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, Tretter, Lang, Bulaga, Spriggs, Murphy, Taylor, Barclay. Would try to trade Walker for a 7th round pick.

DL: Daniels, Clark, Lowry, Peppers, Ringo, Guion. Ringo is 53rd man kept due to a numbers game. Peppers is at DL as he's largely used as a 3rd down rusher.

ILB: Ryan, Thomas, Martinez, Bradford. Would try to trade Barrington for a 7th round pick.

OLB: CM3, Perry, Jones, Elliott, Fackrell. McCray and Barrington are the last 2 cut.

CB: Randall, Rollins, Sammy Swagga, Gunter, Hawkins.

S: HaHa, Burnett, Brice, Evans, Hyde, Banjo.

K: Crosby

P: Masthay

LS: Lovato

Practice Squad: Callahan, Robertson Daniel, Brandon Burks, John Crockett, Jermaine Whitehead, Brian Price, Beniquez Brown, Reggie Gilbert, Lucas Patrick, Allison (Binford and Gatewood miss out).

SUSPENDED: Pennel, Goodson.

PUP: Linsley

IR: Dorleant.

Every year - prior to the Labor Day kickoff to the college season, I put together a way too early Mock Draft. So, here goes:

Round 1.) Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida. The Packers are in great need of a fierce, play making presence at ILB. Davis is that guy. He's fast, he's beastly. He's flat out nasty. Heading into the 2016 College Football Season, I'm targeting 1 of 3 guys as a 1st round pick for the Packers: Davis; Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama; and Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State.

Round 2.) Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan. The Packers need more athleticism and dominance along the DL. Wormley is a leader of the Michigan defense. He can play the run and get to the QB.

Round 3.) Davon Godchaux, DL, LSU. He's largely a run stuffer, but he's also displayed a knack for applying pressure and getting to the QB. He is inconsistent from an effort perspective, but when he's on, he's dominant.

Round 4.) Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado. Locks up well. Turns and runs. Plays the ball well. Long. Plays bigger than 5-11. Plays ball well. Likes to be challenged. Has made big plays late in games previously. Others: Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma. Big time playmaker at CB. Finds the football in the air. Top notch athlete. Only a Junior, but he seems like the type of player that comes out early. Plays with confidence. And swagger. If Thomas were a Senior, I'd have him as this selection. Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU. Largely a run-stopping ILB. A leader. Great playing straight ahead. Attacks the line of scrimmage with purpose and intent.

Round 5.) DJ Jones, DL, Ole Miss. Pursuing interior defender. Quick. Moves well for his size. He moves around OL and wiggles his wide frame into the backfield. Uses hands well. Needs better endurance, but solid prospect.

Round 5b) (For Casey Hayward). Jordan Willis, OLB, Kansas State. High effort pass rushing edge player. Not elite burst off the ball, but wins with tenacity and desire. Has great fight.

Round 6.) Ben Boulware, ILB, Clemson. Leader. Knowledgeable, straight-ahead player. Solid in run game. Good on the interior blitz as well. High effort, intelligent player. More of a 1st & 2nd down player than a nickel ILB. Football player.

Round 7.) Rushel Shell III, RB, Dub-V. Gifted RB who is talented as a receiver out of the backfield. Good in space. Elusive. Darts to the second level. Change of pace type back who runs hard as well.

This week - in the final preseason game - the Packers travel to KC to wrap up the 2016 preseason. I expect to see Joe Callahan playing most - if not all - of the game. Callahan, once again, plays with great command of the offense. He uses his weapons well. He's efficient. He manufactures points.

Abby again has a solid game.

Ringo notches a sack. So does Fackrell.

Brice and Evans dominate.

Hawkins picks off another pass.

Burks runs hard. Averages more than 5 yards per carry.

Murphy takes another step forward at RT.

Packers 23
KC 16

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

I enjoy watching the Packers win. Whether it's Week 2 of the preseason or it's the Super Bowl, I revel in the thought of Packers victories. Bill Withers' "Lovely Day" rings thru the speakers as I sip an Odd 13 Super Sneak Hop Bursted Sour. This refreshing beer is 6.5% of goodness. Fruit forward citra hops gets you smiling and a Lacto/Brett yeast blend has you craving more. Odd 13. Always a winner.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* It was a total treat to watch the starting OL dominate! Lang moving people. Sitton forcefully winning the point of attack. Tretter getting to the second level. Bulaga and Bakhtiari in control. Thing of beauty.

* I know it was only the 2nd preseason game, but MM looks to be in midseason form as a play caller. First two plays had Rip wide open in the flat on roll-outs. Got Hundley into the flow of the game. Then, MM hits you with EDDIE who looks to be ready for a big year. MM spreads out Cook who will be a mismatch all year. Seriously beautiful play calling by MM.


* Fantastic play by Damarious Randall.

* Love the athleticism that Q-Rollins brings to the secondary. He's going to make a number of plays this year.

* Starks looks quick. Just wish he wasn't quick to bounce it to the outside. Wish he instincts encouraged him to cut it up the field.

* Jason Spriggs. Gulp. A week after being encouraged, I'm nervously biting my fingers. In order for the Packers to be Super in 2016, we're going to need solid depth along the OL. Spriggs was drafted to be that depth. Against Oakland, he looked weak, he was off balance, he was slow. He was beaten with power. He was beaten with speed around the edge. He didn't finish blocks in the run game. He looked confused. He looked incapable of holding up when the lights are turned on. While it was obvious that he was destroyed while pass blocking, he looked equally poor as a run blocker. He lacked fight. And, now, I'm concerned about him.

* I'm shocked that I'm about to write this, but after two Packers preseason games, Blake Martinez looks to be the most NFL ready of all of the Draft picks. He looks quick. Loved to see his special teams tackle. It was really good to see him finish the play on 3rd down to keep the ball carrier 1-yard short of the first down sticks. It's really early, but thus far, he's exceeded my expectations.

* When I listed my top 10 things to watch in preseason, I listed Josh Hawkins. I've long been a fan. He was my UDFA darling. He will be a tough cut. He can play in this league. If he gets cut, he won't clear waivers to make it to the practice squad. He jams well. He turns and runs. He plays the ball in the air.

* As a whole, this defense has taken on Mike Daniels' attitude. Daniels, the new leader of the defense, brings intensity. Thru two preseason games, this defense looks like it'll be a defense that pursues the football. Chasing down the football.

* Really going to miss Mike Pennel over the first month. Especially in the first 2 games. Guarantee that J'ville & the queens attack the heart of the Packers defense via the run game over the first two weeks. Neither Kenny Clark nor Dean Lowry appear ready to make a Week 1 impact. Happy that both are Packers, but concerned about their ability to perform to start the season. Hope that Clark recovers quickly from the back injury.

* Kentrell Brice looks like he could start someday at Safety. He has to make this roster. He has instincts and anticipation at a first-class level. He seems to have command of the defense, too. He plays fast and he has been a sure tackler.

* I was really bummed that I didn't get this out before McGinn wrote it earlier this week, but the player who most impressed against Oakland: Marwin Evans. Played with great physicality. Hit with intent. A jarring tackler. Showed great desire to find the football.

* If it were me, I'd keep Brice and Evans ahead of Banjo. Both have the physique to be able to play special teams at a high level and both have a much larger upside as a defender than Banjo. I realize that Banjo has been a valuable special teams contributor, but I wouldn't expose Brice nor Evans to the open market. Both would be claimed prior to the Packers trying to add them to the practice squad. They both belong on a 53 man roster.

* The Packers are going to have tough decisions at LB. Bradford, Barrington, Thomas and Martinez have all played well enough to make this roster. Bradford has been the biggest surprise of camp. Ryan started at the end of last year and would be a solid bet to make the roster even though he's been injured throughout training camp. And, at OLB, CM3, Perry, Jones and JP will all make the team. I'd highly doubt that TT would cut his 3rd round pick, Fackrell. And, McCray has outplayed Fackrell in both preseason games. Additionally, McCray would be a more valuable special teams player. Also, Jayrone Elliott has to be in contention for a roster spot. Even though he's yet to make an impact in the preseason. Elliott has been a huge disappointment this August after two dominant years. But, Elliott has been a proven special teams performer and he's made plays when he's been given the opportunity to do so in the past. I'm struggling with putting the #'s together.

* I've been more impressed by the Packers UDFA class than I have been their Draft picks.

* Makinton Dorleant. Showing swagga. Quick as a cat. Uses his hands well. Showed happily on special teams. Stepped up in run support. A teammate. Worth consideration for a roster spot. Guaranteed a spot on the practice squad if he's released and I could see someone claiming him to put him on their 53 man roster. He has the personality to play CB in this league.

* I kept waiting for Robertson Daniel to make a play. So, did the Packers. Clearly. They had him on their #1 special teams units. But, Daniel has been outplayed by Dorleant and Hawkins.

* Loved seeing McCray and Perry chasing running plays down from behind. Showing effort. Showing speed. Limiting gains.

* Christian Ringo was given an opportunity to impress early in the game. He got moved backwards. Consistently. Disappointing.

* Crockett came to play after a slow start. Really nice TD run. I'm still higher on Burks than I am on Crockett. Burks showed burst on his run to the outside. The Packers don't have another back on the roster who could've gotten to the corner.

* Like the drive blocking by Kyle Murphy. He was steady. Did a nice job sealing the edge on the big run by Burks.

* OL spots will be interesting to see how it's sorted out. Taylor has not played with the physicality that he showed last year. He showed quickness in the screen game, but he didn't finish his block. Josh Walker has been inconsistent. Barclay looks more fit than he's been in his Packers career. He's also showed versatility along the line. With the way the roster is shaping up, it'll be hard to imagine the Packers keeping more than 8, but with Linsley's injury, he could be headed towards the PUP. So, with that said, I could see a scenario in which Barclay, Walker and Taylor are battling for 1 spot. It's hard to see TT releasing either Murphy or Spriggs as they're his draft picks. Barclay has outplayed Walker and Taylor, but Taylor has guaranteed money and TT hates dead money on the cap. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

* JORDY! Can't wait to see him in action.

I'm really stoked to see Rodgers, CM3 and JP this week. I fully expect to see an explosive team. Both offensively and defensively. I envision a team that comes out with attitude. A team that wants to forcefully dominate from the opening kickoff. This team has a different feel to it. They look like they're having fun. They look like they're ready to win football games. Convincingly.

Packers 27.
49ers 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Take -> Preseason Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

I marinate with a smile. Both of my kids have been healthy for the last two weeks. For the last 11 months, I've wondered if that'd ever happen. Sleep is nice. With sleep, "I'm feeling like old school, mixtape. That's all I need." I went to the Dirty Heads concert at Red Rocks last night. Fantastic show. Despite the rain. The crowd was vibrant like a cold Sunday at Lambeau in December. The harder the rain, the louder the cheers. The Dirty Heads song "That's All I Need" has been ringing in my head for the last 24 hours. It brings joy. Check it out. What also brings joy is a Trinity Saison Delivery. Heavy apple mouthful. Aged in Chardonnay barrels. Potent with sugar. A true dessert.


Here are my quick vibes from the Packers victory over the Browns:

* John Crockett had a chance to put himself in the lead for the 3rd RB, if the Packers are to keep 3 RB's & a FB. Crockett didn't seize the opportunity. In fact, I felt Brandon Burks was the better player. Burks was quicker to the hole. Burks caught the ball gracefully. Burks showed burst. As I write, I'd keep Burks over Crockett. Small sample size, but for my eye, it wasn't even close. Burks looked to have much higher upside.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Looked like the Rasta-back that we've known in loved in years prior to 2015.

* How is Richard Rodgers above Justin Perillo on the depth chart? What do we like about Rodgers? It took two plays to be reminded that Rodgers cannot block. And, with Rodgers looking much slimmer, I wonder if he'll get pushed around even more than he has in past years. Perillo, on the other hand, blocked well and he caught EVERYTHING that was in sight. Regardless of how he was defended. Really impressive performance by Perillo. Hell, I even liked Backman's upside above what we've seen from Rodgers.

* It was so nice to see Jared Cook in Green & Gold. 3rd & 7. He catches the ball running across the field one-yard short of the marker. Still, he moved the sticks. We rarely saw that in 2015.

* Great to see Ty Montgomery back on the field. He brings tremendous versatility. A true weapon.

* Jared Abbrederis is a lock to make this team.

* Jeff Janis - even with the injury - should be on the 53 man roster. We need his special teams play.

* Wasn't overly impressed with Trevor Davis. Thought he misplayed the deep ball. Mistimed the jump. Had bad depth perception. Not giving up on him obviously, but I expected more.

* Really wanted Herb Waters to make a play. Was disappointed in how he got in-and-out of his breaks. Didn't look worthy of a practice squad role. I expected better.

* Geronimo Allison running routes! Like the shake. And the use of his hands. Looked worthy. Want to see more.

* Once again, for my eye, Jason Spriggs showed he has the footwork to play in the NFL. Really liked his quickness. He's susceptible to the bull rush. He needs to get stronger in the upper body. But, he's a finesse tackle right now that is a better insurance policy than we had last year. We can win with him playing Tackle. And, he'll only get better.

* I'm really hoping Kyle Murphy plays this week. Wanted to see him.

* Thought Rotheram played well. Looked like he belonged.

* Riveting to see Chris Banjo on the spot for the fumble recovery. Have a feeling that the Packers coverage units could be really good this year.

* Ummmmmm. Kentrell Brice. He was active. He showed NFL quickness. Really hoping he gets significant playing time again this week. He was all over the place. He was in the box. He sideline-to-sideline. I thought he'd compete. He did much more than that. He'll be on a 53-man roster somewhere, if not in Green Bay.

* Micah Hyde! Thrilling pick! It was only Week 1 in the preseason, but the play felt big time. Had me jump out of my seat.

* Liked Josh Hawkins' play. Good to see him step up and make a tackle. Better to see him defend the pass that would've been a TD. Hawkins timed the play well and knocked the ball out at the last second. Hawkins will need to show better in order to compete for the 53-man, but he's in the mix for the practice squad. I'll be interested to see his playing time this week as it appears that Dorleant is back from injury.

* Robertson Daniel looks like part in his uniform. Now, I want to see him make a play to solidify his grip as the #5 CB. As of now, I have the Packers keeping Sammy Swagga, Q-Rollins, D-Randall, Gunter, HaHa, Burnett, Hyde, Banjo and Brice on the 53-man team.

* Datone Jones had a burst that I've never seen him play with before. He looked much more athletic. A lot thinner. Quick around the edge. Looked like he was capable of being a difference maker on the edge.

* Liked Letroy Guion's push.

* Love seeing Mike Daniels as the leader. He's instilling a different mentality in this defense. He wants this group to be nasty. SO STOKED!

* That's the Christian Ringo that I've been pining to see. Quick twitch. Burst to the QB. Lower the boom. Well done, Ringo.

* Kenny Clark showed leverage knowledge. Good to see him winning battles at the line of scrimmage and moving his blocker backwards. He didn't show much in the box score, but thought he played well.

* Dean Lowry looks like a Green Bay Packer. Good push. Good length. Excited to see him develop.

* The Packers will miss Mike Pennel.

* The LB play was much better than what I expected. Carl Bradford was really impressive. Looked like a different player. Beniquez Brown played with more quickness than I anticipated. He was aware. Looked like he understood the basic principles of the defense. Joe Thomas was hitting people like he meant it. Kyler Fackrell and Reggie Gilbert both brought quickness and burst around the edge. Really liked Lerentee McCray's intensity. He punishes.

* Congratulations to Peter Mortell! A dream come true! Exciting to see his initial punt get fumbled and that the Packers recovered. Epic karma shown there.

* Fun to Mason Crosby in mid-season form.

* Blake Martinez. Pardon me if I'm critical here. It's not my intent. But, the Packers drafted him to make a difference in 2016. He has to be better than he played. He stacked well. He shed the blocker. He was in position to make the play. He missed the tackle. I fear that we could see that a lot in 2016. I hope I'm wrong. But, when I've studied him, I've seen that before. He's a great leader. He has good quickness. He looked bigger in his uniform than I anticipated he would. I'm really pulling for him. The Packers don't need him to be a true difference maker, but he has to be a sure tackler. He can't miss tackles. We need him to be a trusted tackler. We can't afford whiffs. The inside pressure was really impressive. Liked his hustle and his pursuit. Hope we see more of that.

This week - it's the Raiders. Again, I'd rest most of the starters. I want to be certain that we have the best back-ups possible on the OL. Now is the time to find out who we need to keep. I want to see if we should keep 10 OL or 10 DB's or 7 WR's with only 3 RB/FB or 11 LB's. There's a lot of question marks. We need to figure out the depth of this roster. This is a great week to invest in determining who we should mover forward with.

The Packers give the game to Brett Huntley. He performs magically. He runs the offense like a pro. He uses the TE. He dumps off to the backs. He hits WR's as they're coming out of their break.

Burks makes an impact again. He wants a roster spot.

Jayrone gets to the QB.

Daniel snatches a pick.

I anticipate it'll be a high scoring preseason affair.

Packers 27.
Raiders 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Take -> Preseason Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

The Michael Franti & Spearhead show at Red Rocks last Sunday night was legendary. I'm still soaking in those vibes. I'm listening to the SoulRocker album as I write. I'm sipping an Odd13 Codename: Superfan. It's a delicious IPA. My go-to beer right now. Fruity hops. Foggy after the pour. Smooth. Refreshing. Odd13 is brewing fantastic beer. Seek them out.

I'm itching for Packers football. But, I'm happy that last weeks game got canceled. In most preseasons, I'm a guy that likes aggression. I like fight. I like tenacity. I like to see most of the stars play some football. I like to see the team ready for Week 1. But, after losing Bulaga in 2013, Barclay in 2014 and Jordy in 2015; I'm good with an extremely conservative approach. With that said, I'd like to see the Packers rest most of their starters this week.

Here are some quick vibes in preparation for the Preseason Opener at Lambeau:

* I'd like to see a rowdy Lambeau Field. Let's set the tone for 2016. Make it a Friday night celebration. A party. Be vibrant. Party on, Party People. Rage up, G-Force!

* The OL is an absolute key to the Packers success in 2016. I'd bench all of them this week. I'd let Spriggs play deep into the 3rd Quarter. He needs reps. This week is a great time to give them to him. It's crucial to see if Barclay is back from his ACL injury in 2014. He needs reps. Let him play. Kyle Murphy needs reps. Play him most of the game. I want to see if Matt Rotheram can play in this league. There's no better time to find out. Josh Walker showed flashes last year. He needs to prove that he's worthy of a spot this year. Let him battle it out.

* I'd rest Lacy & Starks. It'll be tough to get this roster down to 53 players this year. One way to possibly do so is to only keep 2 RB's and 1 FB. To make up for the lack of depth at RB, the Packers could keep an extra WR and then Cobb & Montgomery would see more action at RB - essentially the combination of the two makes up the 3rd RB. The Packers value versatility in their depth players. Crockett doesn't offer much special teams value. So, it's important to see if Crockett can earn a spot. I'd give him 20 touches against Cleveland.

* Obviously, Jordy isn't playing. I'd also rest Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb. I want to see Janis, Abby, Adams, and Davis duke it out. It'll be fun competition. Additionally, I want to see Allison, Waters and Williams fight for a practice squad role. From what I read, Allison has stood out. He's long and runs a decent slant route. His hands were inconsistent at the college level, but it sounds as though he's done well catching the ball in practice. Williams showed well last year in the preseason. He was a fighter after the catch. He was strong. He got in and out of his breaks well. Waters was a deep threat at the college level. The Packers have a need for speed at WR. I want to see Waters try and get over the top.

* I'd rest Jared Cook. I was happy to see what he did in his first practice. He made an impact. But, I'd ease him into the full rotation. There's no need to aggravate an injury at this stage. Plus, it's important to see who fits best as the third TE. Is it Backman, Perillo or Henry? It'll be an important decision. Blocking and special teams play could be the determining factor. I assume Perillo will win the battle. Karma seems to be on his side.

* No chance I'd play Rodgers. And, with Hundley's injury, he's out as well. Callahan and Williams are playing for a practice squad role.

* On the DL, I'd rest Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion. I'd play Clark for a couple of series. But, I'd like to see Lowry, Ringo and Brian Price eating up a majority of the snaps. We need to see if any of them are worthy of playing time in Week 1 while Mike Pennel is out of action. I'm anxious to see Lowry.

* At OLB, there's no way that I'd play Clay or JP. Datone Jones should only get a series and that's only to allow him to get used to contact coming from a new position. I'm stoked to see Elliott attacking the QB. Let's give Fackrell exposure to the defense. The same can be said for McCray. I want to see Reggie Gilbert fighting for a practice squad position.

* At ILB, I'd let everyone play. Let Barrington get some of the kinks out. I'd play Blake Martinez into the 2nd Quarter, so that he can gain familiarity as well.

* At CB, Sammy Swagga, Q Rollins and Damarious Randall would not play if I were in charge. All were nicked up last year. All have been prone to nagging injuries. I'd rest them. Plus, I'm anxious to see what Gunter, Dorleant, Hawkins and Daniel bring to the table this weekend. I'd like them to get most of the reps. I smell a couple of picks this weekend.

* At S, Burnett, HaHa and Hyde would all be in street clothes. They'd be coaches on the sideline. The spotlight would be on Kentrell Brice who will bring speed and athleticism that the Packers crave. He's fearless. It'll be interesting to see if his college skills will translate at the NFL level.

* For the first time in a number of years, the Packers core unit is healthy. So is their depth. And, with that said, I'd be conservative to preserve that depth heading into Week 1. I'm really excited about the prospects of the 2016 season. As I said last week, I'm expecting a Super Bowl title this year. Let's put our best foot forward when the regular season hits.

Crockett runs wild. The Packers defense forces two turnovers. Perillo moves the sticks. Allison grabs a TD.

Packers 20. Browns 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My Take -> Preseason Preview

Greetings, G-Force.

Michael Franti sings "Summertime. It's always on my mind. Even in the winter, I want the Sunshine." I hope you've enjoyed your Summer as much as I've enjoyed mine. A Breakside Passionfruit Sour from 9/15 sits by my side. It's loaded with carbonation and sips like champagne. It's a good place to start as 2016 is going to be a football celebration.

2016. A defining year in the TT, McCarthy, and Rodgers legacy. We're equipped to win it all. With Bakhtiari, Sitton, Lindslay, Lang and Bulaga manning the line of scrimmage, the band is back together for one more year. Lacy appears to be fit. Nelson and Montgomery return. Jared Cook is added on a 1-year deal. Offensively, the Packers have gifted Aaron Rodgers with as much talent as their is on any team in the league.

Defensively, the Packers are going to need team chemistry to be at an all-time high. Additionally, the Packers will need the likes of Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Christian Ringo and Blake Martinez to make an impact. They'll need to compliment the play of CM3, Peppers, Perry, Datone, Daniels, HaHa, Sammy Swagga, Q Rollins, Randall, Guion, Hyde and Burnett.

If healthy, this team should be as good as any team in the league. It's up to McCarthy and Rodgers to deliver. Their success - as a unit - is as vital as any component on the team. Their camaraderie is key. It's important to note that Rodgers' vibe seemed healthier than it was last year. He was smiling. He was carrying a positive body language. There's no reason that Rodgers doesn't play at an MVP level this year.

I'm more nervous about the 2016 season than I've ever been. I feel like it's Super Bowl or bust. And, while I'm confident that we will be there in the end, I can't take another heartbreak. The Packers have most everyone of importance back for one more year. Next year - we won't look the same as the roster will be raided via FA. THE TIME IS NOW! I'm predicting it: the Green Bay Packers are winning Super Bowl LI. Last year, we were hung over from the devastation in Seattle. We never really found our groove. This year - we get our confidence back. We win the Division. We grab a first round bye. We finish 12-4. Much like the XLV Season, it's Green Bay beating Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

Here are my top 10 things to watch in training camp:

10.) Josh Hawkins, CB. TT has won big with undrafted CBs in the past. Hawkins could be next. East Carolina is a team that I try to watch on an annual basis. Hawkins is someone that often caught my eye. I didn't view him as a player that'd get drafted, but he'll make a great training camp body and with Joe Whitt as his mentor, it wouldn't shock me to see Hawkins make a push at the Roster. Hawkins can run. He anticipates routes. He can jump like he's on a trampoline. He could potentially play both in the slot and on the perimeter. He has the athleticism to play in the NFL. I hope he puts it all together. Entering camp, he was my UDFA darling for 2016.

9.) OL. When the starting 5 is healthy, they're as good as anyone. With Bakhtiari, Lang and Sitton becoming FAs after this year, they'll be motivated to have great years. But, TT wasn't going to take any chances. He wants Aaron Rodgers to receive first-class protection this year and he's utilized heavy investments to ensure that the 2-time MVP is standing up. He spent on Lane Taylor. He traded up for Jason Spriggs. He drafted Kyle Murphy. He brought back Don Barclay. Tretter is still in the mix to be the back up at all 5 positions. Josh Walker had a really solid preseason last year and he filled in admirably when called upon against StL last year. And, Matt Rotheram has shown glimpses. Taylor's signing indicates that the Packers are unlikely to bring back both Sitton and Lang. Spriggs has great quickness. I like his footwork and the was that he shuffles well when he's moving laterally. Hopefully, Barclay can return to his 2013 form. Murphy might end up being best suited for G. He lacks quickness and might not have the footwork not playing Tackle. It's possible that the Packers OL depth will be better than its been in my lifetime.

8.) Christian Ringo & Dean Lowry. The DL depth is potentially a roster concern. Either Ringo or Lowery could be the solution. They have contrasting styles, but both could fill a similar role. Ringo is much shorter. He wins with leverage and quickness. He needs to get underneath a lineman in order to push him backwards. Ringo disappointed in his rookie training camp and lost his rookie year. I have high hopes for him in 2016. Lowry is going to win with effort. He's not only going to disrupt by potentially stopping the run, but he should bring a pass defense role that we haven't seen since Johnny Jolly. Lowry will get his hands in the air. There's no reason that Lowry doesn't knock down a minimum of 3 passes per year. He will bring Aaron Kampman's work ethic. He will be a fighter and should be a force at times in the preseason. I'm counting on one of them having a solid preseason and to position themselves for a role in the defense - especially while Mike Pennell is out.

7.) Jeff Janis v Jared Abbrederis v Davante Adams v Trevor Davis. Janis will make the team. He's a lock due to his role as a gunner. Hopefully, he can carry the momentum from last years playoff performance into the 2016 season. He's still raw as a receiver, but 2016 is a big year in his development as a WR. It's clear to me that the Packers want Adams to be the #3 WR. They want him to realize his potential. He will be given every opportunity to be an every down WR. Last year was painful, but I'm pulling for him to have a rebound year. Regardless of how he performs in the preseason, Adams is likely to be on the roster. I'm intrigued with how the Packers are utilizing Abbrederis this year. I've read about him lining up in the backfield. We know that Rodgers trusts him. Abbrederis showed well in the playoffs last year. He will have to stay healthy throughout training camp to ensure a spot on the 53 man roster. As I draw up mock 53 man rosters, it's tough to design one that allows the Packers the luxury of keeping 7 WRs. Davis is the Wild Card. Ideally, he seems like the type of guy that TT would be able to hide for a year. However, Davis got off to a quick start in camp and he offers some value as a speed threat. He also has KO return skills. Davis will get the opportunity to show his style in the preseason and he could force the Packers hand. It'll be fun to watch.

6.) OLB. The Packers have a number of bodies on the roster, but do they have anyone who is an every down player? CM3 can ball. After that, there's a lot of question marks. Datone is moving to the elephant end, which is a new role for him. Nick Perry has been unable to stay healthy in his career. Perry needs to have a career year. I'd love to see 8-10 sacks out of him. McCray has been added and he'll immediately bring special teams value. McCray is a punishing tackler. He's aggressive. He will bring attitude, but can he be an impactful defender? Kyler Fackrell will bring wit, intelligence, desire and commitment; but his strength and speed will be tested. Fackrell could become a solid role player if he's pressed into action. He has great length and he'll get his arms in the air when he's unable to get to the QB. Furthermore, he will drop into coverage with confidence. It's possible that he could have a Frank Zombo type impact on the team. Jayrone Elliott has been Mr. August over the last two years. He's looked like he could become the next KGB. But, then, in the regular season, he's seen limited playing time and he's been mostly quiet. In 2016, it's time for Elliott to become a legitimate pass rusher. He needs to take that next step and show that he can be a pass rushing specialist. Reggie Gilbert could push for a spot on the practice squad.

5.) JP. Peppers is back for another year. On my CHTV podcast spot, I mentioned that I believed Peppers would mostly be seen as an interior pass rusher on passing downs. A 3rd down weapon. Lined up next to CM3. Causing disruption. I also believe that Peppers will likely see heavier snaps in September than he will in October and November. The Packers are going to try and keep JP fresh. At the same time, they're paying Peppers to get 7 sacks this year and to force a couple of crucial turnovers. I'm interested in seeing how he's utilized.

4.) HaHa. HaHa has the potential to turn into an All-Pro Safety. I'm about to be very critical, but it's only because I believe HaHa has all of the tools necessary to become an elite Safety. For two years, we've seen HaHa in position. Consistently. Ready to make the game changing play. However, he's been inconsistent with his ability to finish the play. He's plugged the hole, but he's whiffed. He's had his hands on the ball and dropped it. He's misplayed the ball in the air. And, while we've seen HaHa make a number of great plays, he's also left a number of plays on the field. I'm hoping he's showing leadership skills and he's blossoms into a Superstar. Noteworthy: when the Packers have previously won the Super Bowl, they've always had a top flight Safety. It's time for HaHa to take an enormous step forward.

3.) Jordy Nelson, Ty Montgomery, and Jared Cook's health. Two years ago, Jordy Nelson was as good as any WR in the NFL. His return is crucial to the Packers 2016 success. I didn't like the way Nelson was running as he jogged out of the locker room on Family Night. We need him at 100%. He brings the deep ball element. He brings same mindedness between QB & WR. Last year, excessively, we saw Rodgers and his WRs misread plays as to whether it should've been a back shoulder throw or a go-route. With Nelson, that'll change. Also, people forget that the Packers were undefeated with Montgomery in the lineup last year. He's importance cannot be overstated. He brought versatility. He brought disguise. He brought effort as a receiver, a runner and a blocker. He brought intelligence. Rodgers trusted him. And, importantly, he made Cobb better as his presence allowed the Packers to use them interchangeably. He was also averaging more than 31 yards per KO return. The Packers mightily missed Montgomery. I'm excited for him to comeback. Jared Cook was brought in to bring a dimension that's been missing in GB. Cook is a TE who can stretch the field. He's a threat after the catch. He's an adequate blocker. He's a threat after the catch. The Packers need to get Cook in rhythm with Rodgers. They need to get their timing down. While we don't need it this week, it's important for Cook to be ready in the next two weeks.

2.) Kenny Clark. The 2016 Green Bay Packers will be Mike Daniels' defense. He's the Leader. He needed someone to mentor. With Clark, Daniels got what he needed. Clark can trash people. He will bring quickness to the DL. He will bring physicality. He will bring energy. Daniels will make certain that he brings consistent intensity. Daniels will promise that Clark will be mean enough. It's up to Clark to be ready to make plays in Week 1. The Packers need a dominant force on the DL. Clark was drafted in Round 1 to become that baller. If so, with Daniels & Clark, we could see a number of riveting plays behind the oppositions line of scrimmage. Exciting!

1.) ILB. The weakest link on the roster is the ILB position. Once again, TT largely avoided the ILB in the offseason. And, with CM3 presumably moving back to OLB, I am really concerned. Admittedly, I'm not overly confident that Blake Martinez will be able to play in the NFL. I hope I'm wrong. But, I fear that he'll get overpowered. I fear that he'll get beat to the spot when he's trying to take an angle to a ball carrier. And, while Martinez is going to be one of the most likable players on the team, I'm concerned that his smarts won't make up for his athletic deficiencies at the NFL level. Again, I hope I'm wrong. If it's not Martinez, who will it be? Barrington is still injured. Ryan showed limitations. Joe Thomas has to take the next step. It's a make or break year for Carl Bradford. Beniquez Brown might also make a push at a roster spot. There's rumors of Morgan Burnett entering the mix at ILB. I'm hoping CM3 still plays some at ILB and that the Packers utilize their depth and versatility at OLB to their advantage.

The Packers kick off the 2016 NFL Season in the Hall of Fame game. Frankly, I have one wish: lets keep everyone healthy!

I expect Gunter to grab a pick. I expect Crockett to get a bunch of carries and to top 80 yards. I expect Justin Perrillo to have 3 catches. I expect Jayrone Elliott to grab a sack. I expect Trevor Davis to grab 3 balls. I expect Blake Martinez to do enough to get people's hopes up. I expect Robertson Daniel to impress. I expect Lowry to make his presence felt.

Packers 16. Colts 13.

2016. The band is back together for one more tour! It's Super Bowl or Bust!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.