Even after producing their first winless slate of preseason games in over 20 years, the Green Bay Packers were able to glean a lot of useful information from the games that didn’t count.
The main core of veterans, including Aaron Rodgers, did not suit up for any of these three games, allowing players like Jordan Love and Malik Taylor to earn valuable reps in a potential look at what the future of this roster may look like.
Love Looks Legit – with Room to Grow
Outside of getting third-stringer Kurt Benkert work in the second game with Love being out with an injury, Love was given the keys to the offense to help prove his worth in potentially the final year of being this team’s backup.
Improvements were seen across all three games, as Love grew more and more comfortable as the plays and drives went on. But for the Utah State rookie that has not played a down of competitive football since his senior season of collegiate football, he certainly does have some holes in his game.
Going through progressions seemed to be a strong emphasis for Love, as he consistently was able to go through and find his second, third, sometimes fourth reads on a play and make things happen. While being afforded time behind the second and third-string offensive line units was tough to find at times, being able to show his knowledge of the offense has been evident from the start.
More of a focus should be put on Love and his athleticism, especially through his rushing abilities, as he can make more plays with his legs than he seems to be doing at this point.
Defense Still Needs Work – but Depth is a Plus
Across all three levels of the defense, coordinator Joe Barry looks to have a deep defensive unit this year, which may need to be what makes up for talent deficiencies.
Starting at the defensive line, the two Smith brothers (Za’Darius and Preston) are leading this unit again, with Rashan Gary having put together a superb training camp to position himself nicely for this season. The fourth edge roster looks to be for Jonathan Garvin, a second-year option who looks to be locked into that role with a bunch of upside baked in.
Linebacker is the rough part of this roster, as it has been for the past few years, and the release of Kamal Martin only exemplifies that more. As Ty Summers and Oren Burks hold larger roles in this defense, their shortcomings may become the biggest concern of this unit yet again.
Secondary-wise, it all boils down to how the depth figures into determining who will play opposite Jaire Alexander as CB2 and how the third and fourth-best safeties will figure into Barry’s schemes on a weekly basis.
Even though Kevin King was brought back this offseason and Eric Stokes was taken in the first round, nothing is a given between those two players, and many roles can still change before they take the field for Week 1. As for safety, Henry Black, Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines, and Christian Uphoff all factor into the final roster cutdowns, and with the team likely only keeping three or four safeties, there will be a few of these players cut loose.
Heading into their opening-week matchup Orleans Saints, the Packers are needing to put their preseason struggles behind them and move forward into a season that should see them at or near the top of NFC yet again. The big question still remains, however – can they finally get over that hump or will they still be stuck at the doorway of the Super Bowl for a third consecutive season?뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23