GREEN BAY – With the Packers set to open the preseason against the Eagles on Thursday night at Lambeau Field, here are five performances worth keeping an eye on.
1. QB Brett Hundley – Green Bay’s No. 2 quarterback is likely to start the game with Aaron Rodgers resting, and he’s looking to build on his dynamite rookie preseason of 2015. Hundley didn’t really get that chance last year due to injury, and the third-year pro out of UCLA is eager, ready and willing to finally get some extended game action again.
2. The rookie RBs – The Packers have five of them behind Ty Montgomery. Draft picks Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays, plus undrafted Kalif Phillips and William Stanback, have yet to try breaking a tackle because there’s no live tackling in practice. They’ll also be picking up a blitzing linebacker in live action for the first time. This is when the pecking order behind Montgomery starts to sort itself out.
3. The young CBs – With veteran CB Davon House likely sitting due to a hamstring injury, even more reps will be available for Green Bay’s stable of young corners. Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter and Josh Hawkins can start putting a rough 2016 behind them in earnest, while rookie second-round pick Kevin King can continue catching up after missing the bulk of the offseason program.
4. The edge rushers – The Packers know what they have at outside linebacker in starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. But they’ll be counting on 2016 third-round pick Kyler Fackrell, fourth-year pro Jayrone Elliott, and practice-squad holdover Reggie Gilbert to take their games another step this season to provide depth and rotation options. Rookie fourth-round pick and Wisconsin native Vince Biegel (foot surgery) hasn’t practiced yet, but undrafted rookie Johnathan Calvin from Mississippi State could be in the mix, too. Sacks are a great way to make a preseason splash.
5. The field-goal operation – Family Night was rough for veteran kicker Mason Crosby and the two rookie specialists, punter/holder Justin Vogel and snapper Derek Hart. Whether the struggles under the lights at Lambeau Field become a camp-long story or a blip on the radar will depend in part on how clean the operation looks against the Eagles.