NFL Preview: Green Bay Packers

Head Coach: Mike McCarthy
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Philbin
Defensive Coordinator: Dom Capers
Special Teams Coordinator: Shawn Slocum
President/CEO: Mark Murphy

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Aaron Rodgers
HB: Ryan Grant
FB: Korey Hall
WR: Greg Jennings
WR: Donald Driver
LT: Chad Clifton
LG: Daryn Colledge
C: Scott Wells
RG: Josh Sitton
RT: Mark Tauscher
TE: Jermichael Finely

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Ryan Pickett
DE: BJ Raji
DT: Cullen Jenkins
LB: Clay Matthews
LB: AJ Hawk
LB: Nick Barnett
LB: Brad Jones
CB: Charles Woodson
CB: Tramon Williams
FS: Nick Collins
SS: Morgan Burnett

Special Teams
K: Mason Crosby
P: Tim Masthay

Schedule:
@ Philadelphia
Buffalo
@ Chicago
Detroit
@ Washington
Miami
Minnesota
@ New York Jets
Dallas
BYE
@ Minnesota
@ Atlanta
San Francisco
@ Detroit
@ New England
New York Giants
Chicago

Position Battles:
The most crucial position on the team, Punter. Tim Masthay and rookie Chris Bryan are fighting for the punter position. Masthay has averaged 3 more yards per punt, so I’m giving him the edge so far.

Rookies to Watch:
The Packers are a pretty veteran team without a lot of opportunities for rookies. First round pick Bryan Bulaga is being trained all across the line so he can be a back-up at any position during the season. The Packers were ravaged by injuries to the line last season, so having Bulaga ready to step in anywhere could be huge for the team.

Third Round Pick Morgan Burnett is penciled in at starter at strong Safety and he could hold onto it throughout the season, but if Atari Bigbi comes back healthy he could take the position away, but either way Burnett is at worst a solid backup in case Bigbi can’t stay healthy.

Season Expectations:
A lot of people are saying the Packers are the best team in the NFC North and if you saw much of the game against the Colts, it’s pretty hard to argue that thought. But as you look at the team, the offense is stacked, but the defense is still thin. The offense is led by Aaron Rodgers who is probably the best QB in the league and he’s got some of the best WRs in the league to throw to. Greg Jennings is one of the top WRs in the league, Donald Driver continues to produce, James Jones puts up good numbers, and Jermichael Finley is a rising talent at TE. And when they do run the ball, Ryan Grant has been one of the steadiest running backs in the league over the past 3 years. The line was the biggest problem last year due to injuries, but the team was able to overcome those injuries and still put up big numbers. If they can avoid those injuries this year the offense should be darn near unstoppable.

The defense was fantastic at forcing turnovers last season. They were led by the secondary and Charles Woodson and Al Harris. Woodson will once again be asked to be a defensive leader, but it is unlikely he repeats his outstanding season and with injuries to Harris and Bigbi even more of the pressure will fall on Woodson. The linebackers will have to step up this season to keep some pressure off the secondary. Clay Matthews could have been rookie of the year last season and he’ll have to step up even more and put pressure on the QB to keep teams from picking apart an aging, injured secondary. The team has put a lot of draft picks into the defensive line over the last few years with not a lot to show for it. BJ Raji was a first round pick last year and needs to step up in his second year and give the team a force on the front line to keep offensive lineman from being able to get down field and get bodies on the linebackers.

They’ve got loads of talent on the offense and some promise on defense. They are going to be a team that needs to outscore teams to win and they should be able to do that with consistency. They’ll be a playoff team and could be a threat to go deep into the playoffs.

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