The preseason is now over and the regular season is finally here! The Packers will look to claim the NFC North once again and will have a big test in the season opener. They will go to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a big time divisional matchup. Another thing the Packers will look to accomplish this year is to pass the Chicago Bears and become the all-time leading franchise in wins. If the Packers can beat the Vikings and the Bears lose to the San Francisco 49ers in week one, then the Packers and Bears will face off in week two on Sunday night in Lambeau Field to decide who will be the all-time leading franchise in wins. Before we get too far ahead, there are still some concerns for this Packer team.
The Packers last year had some big injuries that really affected how they were able to play. Jaire Alexander had an AC joint injury that he injured week four against the Pittsburgh Steelers and wasn’t able to come back until the playoffs. It will be huge for this Packers defense to get back one of the top corners in the league. One of the best left tackles in the NFL in David Bakhtiari was also injured all of last year after tearing his ACL and wasn’t able to return until the final week against the Detroit Lions. He played for most of the game and finally came out. He wasn’t able to play in the playoffs after reaggravating his injury. Another star player the Packers are hoping to get back is Elgton Jenkins. Jenkins also tore his ACL, but he tore it in week 11 against the Vikings and seems to be progressing faster than Bakhtiari. Getting both of these great offensive lineman back is key for the Packers this season. Both have started practicing which is a good sign, but both are still questionable to start the season. One other injury to look out for this season is Mason Crosby. Crosby has been out the entire preseason with a right knee injury. He has also started practicing which is promising, because the Packers desperately need him back. Ramiz Ahmed has been kicking for the Packers this training camp with Crosby out and he has definitely had his ups and downs. He was just signed to the Packers practice squad in case Crosby can’t play, but the Packers are definitely hoping it doesn’t come down to that. Staying healthy is a must for the Packers this season. The Packers can’t afford to have injuries with the depth they have at certain positions.
The Packers at certain positions don’t have as much depth as you would like. This year, the Packers only have two running backs on the roster. While Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are one of the best running back duos in the league, the Packers could be in some trouble if one of them goes down with an injury. Kylin Hill last year showed some flashes and was a reliable number three running back, but he tore his ACL against the Cardinals last year and is still recovering. The solution for running back number three seems to be Amari Rodgers. Rodgers is a wide receiver, but in the final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he was getting reps at running back. The Packers have done this in the past with Randall Cobb in the backfield. It will be interesting to see how Amari Rodgers would do in the backfield in Matt Lafleur’s system, because the run game is a big part of the offense while Cobb was playing running back with Mike McCarthy as head coach where the offense was just relying on Aaron Rodgers to do everything.
Another position group with not much depth is the offensive line. The Packers have big injuries with Jenkins and Bakhtiari and have a lot of young guys. Josh Meyers, Royce Newman, Yosh Nijman, and Jon Runyan Jr. all played last year, but after that it is a lot of young guys that were drafted this year or picked up as undrafted free agents. The Packers are very thin on the offensive line and will have their work cut out for them. No matter who is on the offensive line though, the Packers always seem to find a way to figure it out and make it work.
Special Teams last season is a big reason why the Packers lost in the divisional round against the 49ers. There were three big plays in this game that cost the Packers this game and all three came from special teams. The Packers had a punt that was blocked and scored late in the fourth quarter, a muffed punt inside the redzone, and a blocked field to end the first half. Anything that could’ve gone wrong on special teams did. The Packers made a big change and hired Rich Bisaccia to be their special teams coordinator. This was a change the Packers desperately needed, but it still seemed like the same old special teams this preseason that we saw the year before. It will be interesting to see how special teams progresses throughout the season. Hopefully they can start being a reason the Packers are winning games and not just a liability.
Every team in the NFL has to deal with these types of issues, but most teams aren’t able to overcome these problems. The Packers are a team that should be able to overcome these concerns and look to bring the Lombardi Trophy home once again.