Green Bay’s season begins with a
bang against NFC rival Seattle
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Packers have made a flurry of roster moves both before, during and after the NFL mandated cut-down Saturday from 90 to 53, plus a 10-man practice squad.
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Here’s a quick recap:
** The Packers lost Taysom Hill, the undrafted free agent quarterback, to the New Orleans Saints via a waiver claim. Hill really looked promising, but there simply wasn’t enough space in the quarterback room for more than Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley and a practice squad QB (Joe Callahan was re-signed).
Hill showed enough to spark the curiosity of the Saints’ Sean Payton, who also signed Callahan briefly a year ago.
The loss of Hill is more than offset by the strong pre-season play of No. 2 quarterback Hundley. He showed the poise, arm strength, mobility and grasp of the offense to give the Packers a chance to survive if Rodgers were unavailable for a few games.
** Lane Taylor, 27, signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract extension on Monday. Taylor, the starting left guard, took over for Pro Bowl player Josh Sitton.
The Packers’ offensive line didn’t miss a beat.
In fact, it improved once Taylor settled in.
This signing is also significant because it sends a great message to the locker room on Week 1: The Packers’ practice squad isn’t merely window dressing (Taylor was on it) and that they aren’t going to tolerate unhappy employees (see Sitton).
Congratulations to Taylor.
** The Packers’ pass rush received a major boost with the signings of Ahmad Brooks and Chris Odom. Brooks, who will wear No. 55, signed a one-year deal with heavy incentives. Odom (No. 98) was claimed off waivers from Atlanta.
Both should provide juice to a suspect pass rush.
Brooks hasn’t had fewer than six sacks in any season since 2011. Odom has the ability to be an interesting option when Nick Perry or Clay Matthews need a blow.
It’s time for second-year pro Kyler Fackrell to cash in on his opportunity. Signing Brooks and Odom sends a clear message that the pass rush wasn’t good enough.
Further, the Packers traded Jayrone Elliott to the Cowboys for a conditional (seventh-round) draft choice.
Elliott may blossom in Dallas. Clearly, though, the Cowboys are in desperate need of a pass rush.
** The Packers re-signed Michael Clarke and DeAngelo Yancey to their practice squad. Clarke, a 6-6 leaper, is valuable in that he’s talented, raw and a unique red-zone weapon.
Yancey, the fifth-round pick, cleared waivers. The Packers gambled a bit and won.
** The Seahawks looked like the real deal in pre-season.
Head coach Pete Carroll has clung to what works, kept what he and GM John Schneider believe to be the best core players, and stayed true to a rugged defense and heavy-run attack on offense.
The Seahawks also have a running back by the name of Eddie Lacy who is looking for a big game in front of his former team. Lacy has maintained his weight and will get his share of snaps.
It’ll be interesting to see the fans’ reaction to No. 27.
My guess is that he’ll receive a fairly warm greeting – considering the circumstances of a season opener and all – but ultimately he will be derided if (that’s a Lacy-sized IF) the Packers’ defense buries him.
It’ll make for great theater.
** How exciting is it to finally see Rodgers-to-Martellus Bennett for real?
I can’t wait.
It’s near the top of my “Things I’m most curious about” list regarding the Seahawks-Packers.
Rodgers is always a treat to watch do his thing, especially when/if he gets enough time to do it.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) was the only player among those listed on the injury report not to practice. I suspect he’ll be ready to go against the Seahawks.
Either way, Bennett is likely to have an impact immediately. I also wouldn’t discount the addition of Lance Kendricks.
I’m really curious to see how often Packers head coach Mike McCarthy utilizes the double-tight end formation Sunday.
My guess is the Seahawks will see a heavy dose of “heavy.”
I’m also anxious to watch running back Ty Montgomery actually be a running back. Can he pick up blitzes? Can he find his way through tight seams in the line?
Clearly, Montgomery is excellent as a receiver out of the backfield. He also displays a good knack in the screen game, which could be huge if the Seahawks bring it.
Finally, it’s nice to have a truly healthy Jordy Nelson ready and raring to go out of the gate.
Other than the December post-season push and beyond, there’s nothing more fun than watching the Packers’ regular-season opener. Everything is possible, especially given a truly exceptional off-season.
Are you ready for some football?
(That was purely rhetorical).
Sunday kicks off the Packers’ march to 13-3 and beyond…