Two weeks are down in the 2016 preseason and we are starting to see what the Packers will all be about. They have run the ball extremely well early on and have shown a strong defense, especially in coverage. After dismantling Cleveland and Oakland in back-to-back weeks at Lambeau, Now they travel across the country to San Francisco to take on a recent nemesis in the 49ers.
The starters, including Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Randall Cobb are slated to play for the first (and likely only) time this preseason. And like the other two games, the key here is to get out of San Francisco healthy. In previous years, it has been Week 3 that has been a serious issue for the Packers for injuries. But this is the last chance for some guys to make a statement before roster cuts Tuesday. And that leads us to this week’s edition of 3…2…1…
For those of you who didn’t read here last year, the 3…2…1… series is a countdown of things the team needs to do to win. I highlight 3 key players (usually not big name guys), 2 bold predictions, and 1 key stat that the Packers need to win. But before I jump into it, let’s take a quick look at last week. Once the regular season starts, I’ll start keeping track week to week to see if I have been effective in predicting the Packers keys. Usually these articles will be on Saturday before the game, but with preseason in the middle of the week, it’s a little different for the timing.
3 Key Players (1-2)
Trevor Davis (Did not catch a pass)
Reggie Gilbert (1 assisted tackle)
Robertson Daniel (2 tackle, 2 combined)
2 Bold Predictions (1-1)
Raiders defense doesn’t record a sack (1 sack, K. Mack)
John Crockett scores again (1 TD)
1 Key Stat (0-1)
Time in the pocket per pass (QBs were flushed early and often)
Now for this week:
3 KEY PLAYERS
- #20 Makinton Dorleant
- Dorleant hasn’t been at 100% in a while due to a hamstring injury that he suffered early on in camp, but he was one of the big eye-openers in the early stages of practices and in mini camps. He has all the skills to be a good corner and has the drive and desire to be good, as he showed at Northern Iowa. He just needed the opportunity. But this could be his last chance as guys like Robertson Daniel and especially Josh Hawkins have had great camps and games. In last week’s game he had 2 solo tackles. He needs to replicate that at least to get to the final week.
- #85 Mitchell Henry
- Another year in Packers camp, another hand injury for the receiving tight end. Henry has a ton of talent, and has shown extremely soft hands in his career so far. The only problem has been that he has been only with one healthy hand at a time. And with Justin Perillo catching everything coming his way and Kennard Backman showing signs of development, Henry needs to make another strong push like 2015 to avoid another season on the practice squad.
- #90 Tyler Kuder
- The defensive line needs all the help it can get through the first four weeks and while Brian Price has shown flashes, as has Dean Lowry, Kenny Clark, and Christian Ringo, Kuder has been essentially “just a guy” at this point. He needs to have a strong game to get a chance next week to make an impact. Look for a strong push from the rookie out of Idaho State.
2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
- The Starting offense scores at least 14 points.
- This is the chance for the offense to show what they are doing to recover from the tough 2015 season. Aaron Rodgers will be playing, as will Randall Cobb. This is also a chance to see more from guys like Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis to continue their strong camps. And this is a chance to see what Jared Cook will bring to the top level of this team. I expect a lot of points this season from this team if all goes well and it starts here. Look for at least two touchdowns depending on how long Aaron and company play.
- The 49ers don’t hit 300 total yards of offense.
- After stifling a highly potent Raider offense last week, the 49ers anemic attack shouldn’t be as much of an issue. After losing key piece Anquan Boldin and still struggling on the offensive line, whichever quarterback starts won’t have much to work with. And with Matthews, Peppers and company playing extensively for the first time, look for the 49ers to struggle to move the ball.
1 KEY STAT
- Total Plays
- For years, Coach McCarthy has been touting the stat of how many plays the team runs. He wanted 75 per game the last couple seasons and struggled with that during those years. Tonight he will be conservative, avoiding his no-huddle tendencies to make sure assignments are being followed well. Look for a +20 advantage in plays during this game.
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.