1. Newly acquired free agent Julius Peppers is a pass rush specialist. He’s a dominant defensive end who can do it all; bull rush, speed rush, stuff the run, block kicks, anything. He’s 6’7, 287 lbs, a freak of nature wreaking havoc with over 100 sacks in his career. The only question is; at 34 years old, can he play in the 3-4 defense? Since Peppers is a veteran, he won’t have much playing time. But we all look forward to seeing him on the field. All we need to see is one big play as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That way, he and the rest of the defense can game plan the regular season with confidence.
2. The Green Bay Packers are the only team in which not one interception was recorded by a safety last year. They plan to change that with first round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and sophomore Micah Hyde added to the safety rotation. The position is already upgraded as far as speed, range, and tackling are concerned, but will they create turnovers? All eyes will be on Ha Ha. There is instant pressure on him not only being the first round pick, but also a starting safety. It would be wise to play him all preseason and see if he can catch a ball under the bright lights.Jarrett Boykin dives over the goal line for a touchdown.
3. The Packers cut ties with wide receiver James Jones to free agency. Jarrett Boykin came on strong last year but he still may seem raw. The starting targets are set with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. In A-Rod’s favorite three receiver sets, can Jarrett Boykin replace James Jones? Thinking back, all it would take to replace James Jones is the ability to move the chains consistently. Boykin will be running routes most likely against backup corners. He doesn’t have to wow anyone this preseason; just don’t drop the ball.
4. It was sad to say good bye to Johnathan Franklin. The second year running back is too young to retire but the Pack must move on. Eddie Lacy has proved himself as the workhorse. It’s up to James Starks to show he still has some left. After resigning a two-year extension, can Starks stay strong and produce as a number two back? Once upon a time, James Starks carried the Pack’s running game to a Super Bowl. Now he’s sitting on the bench waiting for his turn. His preseason is more about staying humble and taking advantage of his opportunities. We don’t care about how many yards he gets in practice, but if he’s running hard.Jermichael Finley flexes his muscles in his last game as a Packer.
5. The Packers were plagued by injury last year. It was remarkable that they even had the opportunity to win the division and host a playoff game. The will from within is strong in Green Bay and is a testament to the coaches’ and players’ mental toughness. But, injuries have a way of lingering. We can’t help but wonder if the anchor on the offensive line Brian Bulaga and big time tight end Jermichael Finley have fully recovered. They both suffered season-ending injuries requiring surgery. Will they be ready? Bulaga is active in training camp and looks prepared. But Finley is still a question mark who possibly will retire. We haven’t heard of any progress in months. If Finley doesn’t make a move this preseason, his NFL window looks to be closing.