With the second preseason game on the horizon, the Packers are facing quite the conundrum when it comes to playing time and preparation. You see, Pittsburgh is taking the field for their third game and with that comes the usual drill of playing your starters for the first half at minimum.
Now for the Packers, that leaves two options. One, they could go with the Steelers plan, playing the starters for an extended period of time, and that has been implied with practice so far. Vic Ketchman of packers.com has written during his daily “Ask Vic” piece that Coach McCarthy has run this week like a regular season week, which leaves some to think that the Packers will treat this like the third game.
But for myself, I think that they’ll stick with their plan and treat the game like the second game of the preseason and take it carefully with the starting lineup, playing them a quarter, maybe a little bit more, but not too far. There are a few reasons for that, and each makes perfect sense for the team as they approach this season and for seasons to come.
The biggest reason that they should treat this like a typical preseason week two game is that this will continue to give the young guns attempting to make the team a chance to prove themselves. And there will be no greater test than this Sunday when they go against the Steelers starters. Pittsburgh has long been a power in the NFL and their offense is second to none in the AFC. With a balanced attack between Le’Veon Bell and weapons like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, this team will pose a great challenge to the young defenders like Quentin Rollins, Jake Ryan, Khyri Thornton, and Andy Mulumba.
And their defense is no joke either. Scott Tolzien had his way with New England, and Pittsburgh’s starters, especially in the front seven will be a strong test for the new #2 quarterback as well as his weapons.
Another reason that it makes sense for the team to play it safe is the fact that it keeps the routine in place for a group that values it so much. There are still two more games after this and it doesn’t make sense to shake things up with your team just because the opponent does it. It makes no sense to risk injury to important players like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews just to keep up with Pittsburgh.
Finally, and this goes with the first point about the young guys, some of them need this game to save their careers, and they have the perfect test. 2014 draft picks Carl Bradford and Khyri Thornton are facing long odds and need to step their game up in a hurry and the Pittsburgh #1 offense provides the perfect opportunity for them to do that. The same goes for Demetri Goodson and Lane Taylor. They were on the team last season, but they have no such guarantee this year. The Packers need to be safe and smart here to give them all options to evaluate some talented young men.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.