Just 47 days remain until the NFL’s 100th season kicks off with a pivotal match-up of the league’s oldest rivalry. The Green Bay Packers take on the Chicago Bears in a monumental early season division game. Here are four aspects of the team to keep an eye on when Packers kick off training camp on July 25th.
Improved Secondary: The additions of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage should have a tremendous impact on the upcoming season. Signing Amos from the Bears was a coup for Brian Gutekunst, no matter what the opposing fan base says. He is a versatile playmaker and a massive upgrade on any player the Packers have had on the back end since Morgan Burnett’s prime. Drafting Savage solidified this 2019 secondary as the best Green Bay has trotted out since the glory days of Nick Collins, Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. With those three and an in-his-prime Tramon Williams, the Packers were able to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Now, the team looks to replicate that success. Remember, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, and Darnell Savage are all under the age of 25. Amos becomes the eldest starter in the secondary at the ripe old age of 26. This unit is built to shine on the brightest stage for years to come.
Billy Turner’s Impact: The star offensive free agent the Packers brought in has been getting nothing but love from Aaron Rodgers this off-season. In a walk and talk interview with former NFL starter and current NBC analyst Chris Simms, Rodgers exclaimed “A guy who won’t get a lot of pub-but I’m trying to pub ever chance I can-is Bill Turner. He’s a big tough dude. Fit in really well. Good athlete. He can move in our system because we’re running off the ball. He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing up front, because Matt wants to run the ball.” The former North Dakota State Bison signed a four year, $28 million dollar contract in a deal seen as far too rich by some. However, Turner could prove to be an invaluable piece for the Packers as he not only shores up the revolving door at right guard, but also presents the ability to slide over to right tackle should injury befall Brian Bulaga. If the former Bronco is able to bring the toughness and nasty streak that has been missing on the offensive line for a number of years, he will prove a worthy investment. The results of this one should be evident early on.
Size, Speed, and Strength at OLB: The law firm of Smith, Smith and Gary are set to bring the heat off the edge in Lambeau this season. Preston and Za’Darius represent the biggest tandem of size and strength at the position since Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman terrorized passers. Former Michigan Wolverine Rashan Gary looks as though he just emerged from Area 51, as he published a video on Twitter proclaiming he is now down to 10% body fat on his 277 pound frame. If his outlandish workouts translate to the field this fall, the 12th overall pick has Rookie of the Year potential. Rushing the passer is often where success begins and ends on defense. Defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine now has the horses to install even his most exotic blitz packages. A front five of Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Smith, Smith and Gary should strike fear into the hearts of even the most stout offensive lines. This group is set to have an enormous impact on the Packers win column in 2019, and will be at the heart of returning the team to the post-season.
Aaron’s Audible Audition: Head coach Matt Lafleur and Aaron Rodgers created quite the kerfuffle in Packers nation after going back and forth in interviews regarding just how much freedom number 12 would be given at the line of scrimmage. This comes amid statements from current and former Packers’ that Rodgers would often shake his head and change ex-coach Mike McCarthy’s play calls before even leaving the huddle. Most fans and pundits agree that the quarterback whom Redskins All-Pro corner Josh Norman once dubbed “Gandalf the White” needs to be reeled in, and follow the blueprint laid out by his coaches more often. The schemes and concepts of Lafleur’s “West Coast zone” have been used around the NFL with dizzying effect the past few years. With Rodgers, arguably or perhaps, easily the most talented signal caller to be instilled in the system, the Packers potential is through the roof. Nonetheless, questions remain on just how well the “Wizard” will take to learning new spells. If the quarterback and his modern czar are able to mesh the concepts of the offense with the magic in Rodger’s right arm, the whole league will be left trembling like the Uruk Hai outside of Helm’s Deep. Keep an eye out for the pair at training camp, and remember early season confrontations often lead to late season glory.Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.