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Jim Tait 02/01-02/28/17

home : lt sports : sports August 23, 2017

8/11/2017 7:28:00 AM
Packers must create depth in preseason

Nick Sabato
River News reporter

With NFL preseason games beginning this week, fans of the Green Bay Packers will get their first look at what the team will look like this fall ... sort of.

Star players and starters play sparingly in preseason games, and head coach Mike McCarthy has not decided whether two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers will even play in a game until the regular season begins.

It's hard - nearly impossible - to gauge how a team will fare in the regular season by watching exhibition games, but there are still areas to watch for that could give glimpse into how the team may perform in the next five months.

Yes, many will keep an eye on the re-done offensive line and the rushing attack, but the truth won't be revealed on either until games begin. What's most important to keep an eye on is depth.

Green Bay was ravaged by injuries last season, particularly on defense, which is something that seems to happen frequently, even dating back to the team which won the Super Bowl in 2010.

Clay Matthews missed four games due to injury and it was obvious in the 12 games he did play he was nowhere near 100 percent healthy. As a result, the perennial Pro Bowler had just 24 tackles and five sacks.

The biggest issue came in the secondary, however, as injuries and poor play led to one of the worst defensive months in NFL history. The defense allowed 153 points and 1,683 yards between Week 8 and Week 11.

The Packers lost their top three cornerbacks, two starting inside linebackers, a backup cornerback and safety, and sack leader Nick Perry broke his hand, forcing him to play with a club the rest of the season.

During that stretch, Green Bay also lost its top three running backs, forcing Ty Montgomery to move from receiver.

Ted Thompson and company addressed those issues in the draft, selecting defensive backs in his first two picks, followed by a defensive tackle and a linebacker before drafting three running backs in his remaining five picks.

With Sam Shields gone, and other young draft picks struggling at corner, top pick Kevin King is going to need to step in immediately at cornerback. He was torched by Rodgers and Jordy Nelson early in camp, so his progression is something to watch.

Watching reserve players isn't always exciting, but it's going to be crucial for the Packers to build some depth in case the injury bug infects them again this year.

Nick Sabato may be reached at nick@lakelandtimes.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.

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