GREEN BAY – It’ll be 38 days before the Packers are back home again for a game, so here are five things to watch at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
1. Brett Hundley – All offseason, the talk was that the Packers’ new No. 2 quarterback would have five preseason games to showcase, and continue, his development. It’s now down to three games and Hundley is expected back from his ankle injury, more than eager to get on the field after waiting a year since last preseason. In a perfect world, Hundley will only see the field in the preseason in 2016, but you never know.
2. The young pass rushers – The Packers got four sacks from four different pass rushers in the first preseason game vs. Cleveland. Datone Jones’ transition to outside linebacker continues to go well, and he appears to have a role in Dom Capers’ defense for 2016. The others who recorded sacks – Reggie Gilbert, Kyler Fackrell and Christian Ringo – are being watched closely. Can they do it again? Can they build on a strong start to the preseason? Roster spots as well as roles hang in the balance.
3. Blake Martinez – The fourth-round rookie inside linebacker has received a lot of attention thus far, and rightly so, but he only played two series (11 snaps) against the Browns, and his coaches said this week they need to get him more work. Look for an extended stretch of playing time either this week or next.
4. The punters – Rookie and Green Bay native Peter Mortell thrust himself fully into the competition with veteran Tim Masthay with a solid debut against Cleveland, but he followed it up with perhaps his worst showing in camp during practice on Sunday. This competition already has gone longer than last year’s, and maybe this is the game someone takes a definitive lead.
5. The punt gunners – Jeff Janis will need four to six weeks to heal his surgically repaired hand, and Demetri Goodson is suspended for the first four games of 2016. That leaves special teams coordinator Ron Zook looking for new punt gunners to continue what was one of the strengths of the Packers’ unit last season. Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and Robertson Daniel are likely to get some work there.