Packers vs Browns; what to watch
Once the final horn sounds tonight in the Packers-Browns exhibition, the preseason will be half over! Yay! Last week about as bad of football Packer fans have seen since Mike Sherman’s final year, preseason or not. So after last weeks monumental over reaction, how will fans feel Friday morning? Time will tell. But as though feelings build, here are a handful of things to watch tonight.
#1: LB D.J Smith – Anyone else notice how when a season starts, you name “can’t lose” players for your team??? Desmond Bishop was not one of those guys. Now that he is gone, it feels like he was one of those guys! Regardless, Bishop v2.0 (D.J Smith) will slide into a role he held for a few games in 2011, a starter in the Packers 3-4 scheme. This time around, he gets the preseason to get acclimated to the spot instead of the teeth of a run at perfection. Bishop will be missed but I think Smith will be loved.
#2: Other LBs fighting for spots – Yes, Smith is going to be the starter in the middle for Bishop alongside A.J Hawk and Nick Perry will (barring injury) lineup opposite Clay Matthews. Beyond that, there is a solid race for the other 4 or 5-spots. Dezman Moses has been a huge standout since mini-camp as an un-drafted free agent out of Tulane and should be on the roster. Erik Walden came back to Green Bay as a free agent this off-season looking to recapture the magic of late 2010 when he was really productive. Brad Jones continues to be Brad Jones while Frank Zombo continues to watch from the sideline. Vic So’oto was last years preseason darling, but hasn’t done much to rekindle the fire from last year. Jamarri Lattimore was quiet last year but good enough to stick around. His improvements are definitely notable this year. Robert Francois is neither exciting or bad. Terrell Manning appeared to be a steal in the 5th round of this past April’s draft, however its unclear if he will steal a roster spot from anyone. Good luck picking 8 or 9, Ted.
#3: RB Alex Green – Injuries have been a big theme at training camp this year. When it comes to the Green Bay Packers, you can’t spell injury without an “R” and a “B.” Ryan Grant, James Starks, Green, John Kuhn, Deshawn Wynn, and others have all seen time on the bench the last few seasons. Green’s injury came last regular season as he tore up his knee. Tonight, he gets the start. The 2011 3rd round pick could take a big step to the team’s starter at the position. FYI, no Cedric Benson tonight.
#4: QB Graham Harrell – Are you ready for a heavy dose of Graham? You should be. Graham will see the majority of snaps tonight as Green Bay continues to decide if they will start the season with him as a back-up. My guess is they will. If they would need a veteran, they would address that when the time would come.
#5: Lambeau Field – Last time the Packers played a game at Lambeau, January 15th, 2012. The New York Giants won that game 37-20. Not that tonight will erase the memory but it was the last time they played at Lambeau. Just saying.
Justin Hull is the host of the “Home Stretch” heard 2p-5p on 95.3 FM, WSCO Radio n Green Bay/Appleton, Wisconsin and Sports Reporter for WHBY Radio in Appleton, WI. Follow him on twitter (@jh1570) or facebook.