GREEN BAY – The preseason is starting for real on Friday night against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Here are five things to watch in the first of four games over the next 21 days.
1. The young quarterbacks – All indications are Aaron Rodgers is sitting out, and Brett Hundley hasn’t practiced in a week due to an ankle injury. That puts the spotlight on Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams, who are batting for the No. 3 QB job. Whether it’s for a spot on the active roster or (more likely) the practice squad, one of the two rookie QBs may start to separate himself under the lights.
2. Jason Spriggs – The second-round draft pick (pictured) for whom the Packers traded up to select in the spring has more than looked the part of pass blocker at offensive tackle in the one-on-ones. The next step is to translate that to a game and solidify the depth at a position that was troublesome last season when the starters went down.
3. The rookie draft picks on defense – First-round pick Kenny Clark has been a beast in the one-on-one pass-rush drills in camp, and fourth-rounder Blake Martinez has picked up the scheme so well he’s wearing the speaker helmet as the main communicator on defense. These two, along with fourth-round lineman Dean Lowry, will be needed from the get-go on defense, and they’ve got a month of games to get ready.
4. The specialists – Rick Lovato’s competition at long snapper, Peter Schmitt, lost his opportunity by breaking his hand on his first snap in practice, but Lovato’s game still sharpened upon Schmitt’s arrival. That needs to continue. Also, the battle between punters Tim Masthay and Peter Mortell ratchets up now in game action.
5. The young receivers – Will Jared Abbrederis continue his strong start to camp? Can Jeff Janis become the preseason touchdown guy again? Will rookie fifth-round pick Trevor Davis get back to his playmaking ways from the early days of camp after a dropoff? Can undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison capitalize on his rising status? Just how fast is Harvey Binford? Plenty to pay attention to here at camp’s most competitive position.