Who needs to step up in week 2

The Green Bay Packers play host to its divisional rival Detroit Lions tonight at Lambeau Field. Let’s take a look at one player on each side of the ball who needs to step up in primetime to help the Packers secure its first win.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

There are few players on the Packers’ roster who can change a game the way Marques Valdes-Scantling can.

The 26-year-old is likely to be the fastest player any time he’s on the field, allowing the Packers to stretch defenses vertically in the play-action game.

Valdes-Scantling led the NFL in yards per reception in 2020 (20.9) and received enough praise in training camp to warrant the thought that he might only get better.

The Lions allowed a league-worst 17.7 yards per reception in 2020, and they haven’t done much to suggest they’ll be better in 2021.

Entering this season, the Lions’ Jeff Okudah was slated to matchup versus Davante Adams in what would be a key matchup.

Okudah was placed on season-ending IR following a torn achillies he suffered in week 1.

The Lions will likely follow a similar game plan as the Saints did in week 1 by double-covering Adams throughout this game, leaving Valdes-Scantling with one-on-one matchups all night.

The fourth-year pro is likely to face off against rookie Ifeatu Melinfonwu tonight in what should be a clear advantage for Valdes-Scantling.

Rashan Gary

“Next man up.” It’s a mentality and an old cliché in NFL organizations.

Tonight, this cliché will come to fruition for the Packers and Rashan Gary.

Gary, a third-year player from Michigan, will start tonight in place of pro-bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith.

Not much needs to be said about the shoes Gary is trying to fill. He won’t be able to fill the leadership void left by Smith, but he could still impact this game physically.

Gary could have a favourable matchup in this game. The Lions are starting rookie Penei Sewell at left tackle, and although he played well in week 1, he’s still a rookie.

The Packers generated zero hits, pressures, knockdowns, or sacks in week 1 against the Saints. Gary will need to step up tonight and take some pressure off the secondary.

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Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.

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