The Packers are in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for their third pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders.
This is typically the game where we will see the starters for a half to three quarters of the game, taking a significant amount of the reps. The starters will still play the first half according to Matt Lafleur, but I would not expect to see Aaron Rodgers, especially after being scratched last week with back tightness.
As the Packers prepare to trim their roster and for their week 1 match-up with the Chicago Bears, here are 3 things that I will be watching for in this third pre-season game.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst made a point to improve the defensive side of the football this off-season and give coordinator Mike Pettine the tools he needs to take the defensive forward in year 2. With the starters getting a good amount of reps in this game, I would like to see better tackling, more turnovers, and pressure on the quarterback from the front seven.
The defensive has given up 26 points in each of the first two pre-season games, and missed a total of 43 tackles through both games. The tackling needs to be cleaned up. It’s not just happening with players who probably won’t be on the team come week 1, its happening with starters. These things just can’t happen when the regular season begins. I would like to see less missed tackles and more pressure on the quarterback this week.
A Back-up Quarterback Steps Forward
If Aaron Rodgers misses any extended time, the season will be over. Let’s hope he stays healthy throughout the entire season. The Packers need a back-up quarterback who can keep the team afloat until Rodgers gets back if he is out. DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle have both been far from consistent this training camp and pre-season. One of them needs to step forward and grab a hold of the back-up quarterback position. If one of them do not improve over the next two games, they could be looking for a new team as Gutekunst could bring a veteran after cuts have been made.
During the off-season I heard new head coach Matt Lafleur talk about the importance of a strong run game and how running the football sets up the pass. This is a different philosophy than one that has been in Green Bay where the passing game set-up the run and the team would mostly run early in the game and late if the game if they had a lead. I would like to see the offensive line create holes and the backs burst through those holes with power.
To me the run game isn’t just about running the ball. The backs need to help out with blocking and also execute a good play-action pass. The Packers have not utilized the play-action pass a lot in recent seasons. With that, the backs will become a focus in this offense and that could really open things up for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Everything runs through Rodgers, but the running backs needs to take control when called upon.
It’s time for players to lock up their spots on the team. Player stocks will rise and player stocks will fall after tonight’s game. Players need to show that improvement from last week and keep correcting the little things. The picture of the 53-man roster will become a little clearer. Go Pack Go!
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag