Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preseason Preview: Packers at Chiefs

The Packers played a preseason game against the Chiefs in 2011 and things got a little strange when ex-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley left his starters in. His decision led to a couple injuries, and the Chiefs' starters lost a preseason game to the Packers' backups. I don't expect that to happen again since both Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy shouldn't leave their starters in for long. QB Aaron Rodgers has barely played at all this preseason, and I don't expect to see him on the field against the Chiefs.

The game will be replayed on NFL Network for those outside of Wisconsin.

Though this game, in theory, should be a good opportunity for players to prove they deserve a roster spot, I think the Packers have already made up their mind about most of them. They've already decided to keep Mason Crosby (though I'm not sure about that one). At the positions with some backup question marks (offensive line, running back, wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker) a big game might not help some players. The only position that does seem interesting is the offensive line, where the Packers could go in a couple different directions.

Patrick Lewis. The undrafted free agent looked like a good pickup back in April because he was a four year starter at Texas A&M. He's played a lot this preseason, but not too many people I bet have noticed him. It's generally a good sign when the offensive lineman aren't noticed. While that means he's been solid, it also means he's been unspectacular against other backups. The Packers probably like him, but they wouldn't have a need for him if it weren't for someone Van Roten's problems.

Greg Van Roten. The second year player is probably the most talented of the backup lineman, but the move to center hasn't worked out. He botched a couple shotgun snaps against the Seahawks and they can't trust him during the regular season if they need him to play center. His struggles might open the door for Lewis because I'd trust Lewis to play center ahead of Van Roten. I think he's still eligible for the practice squad, but he may also interest another NFL team, so they may have to put him on the 53-man roster if they want to keep him.

Lane Taylor. He botched a couple plays against the Rams (personal foul, allowed a sack) but his strength is that he's a road grader. Mike McCarthy would love to see more from the running game and Taylor might be able to help them. However, as mentioned above, he might be a liability in pass blocking. He seems like a perfect candidate for the practice squad.

The unknown is how these players might fit in with the tackles. Derek Sherrod and JC Tretter are officially on the PUP list (though I'm not sure why Tretter isn't on I.R. along with Bryan Bulaga). I haven't seen enough from Kevin Hughes or Andrew Datko to feel they need to be kept, and I don't know exactly what they have in mind for Marshall Newhouse. Maybe they can trade him to a tackle desperate team or move him to guard full-time? Maybe he'll just stay as the full-time backup tackle?

The final preseason game might actually make a difference for the offensive line if Van Roten can prove he can play center. Otherwise, it'll be fun to watch, but I don't expect it will shake up the roster.

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