LANDOVER, Md. – The preseason’s second game is upon us, so here are five performances worth watching on Saturday night.
1. Tackling – Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t happy with his team’s tackling last Thursday vs. Philadelphia, as defensive coordinator Dom Capers counted 16 missed tackles in film review. McCarthy also didn’t feel the Packers broke enough tackles in their preseason opener. He brought it up multiple times in press conferences this week, so it’s obviously a focus.
2. The running game – The ground game’s production wasn’t to the Packers’ liking in the Eagles game, but the offense hardly worked on it in the spring. More emphasis was placed on running the ball in practice this past week, and rookie backs Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays will be in the spotlight with starter Ty Montgomery dealing with a lower-leg injury.
3. Ball security – Along with tackling, the other fundamental McCarthy has harped on this week is protecting the football. He applauded the defense’s ability to generate four turnovers against the Eagles, as well as put itself in position for more, but the offense turned it over nearly as many times and mishandled the ball far too often. That has to change.
4. Backup center – With Don Barclay out indefinitely due to an ankle injury, the Packers need to find another backup to starting center Corey Linsley. Practice-squad holdover Lucas Patrick and former Arena League player Justin McCray are the current candidates and should share plenty of snaps.
5. Special teams – It’s always the best path to a roster spot for younger players, but special teams is also worth watching now due to the long-snapper competition. Veteran Brett Goode was re-signed this week to compete with undrafted rookie Derek Hart for the job. Hart missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, but if he’s healthy, he’ll likely be sharing punt and field-goal snaps with Goode.