Green Bay Packers: Top 5 burning questions

Packers welcome one-millionth Lambeau Field Stadium Tour visitor

1. Can the offensive line protect Aaron Rodgers? Since Aaron Rodgers took over the starting quarterback job in 2008, he has constantly been under pressure. Last year, Rodgers was sacked a league high 51 times. That is too many times for a franchise quarterback to be hit. To try and fix the protection problems, head coach Mike McCarthy made some changes during the offseason, moving his two best blockers, Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton, to the left side of the line to protect Rodgers blind side. Bulaga will be the left tackle and Sitton the left guard. Rodgers is the face of the franchise, and if the protection doesnt improve, he wont be the face for long. 2. Will Defensive coordinator Dom Capers solve the read option? 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran wild against the Packers in the playoffs. One key to his success was the genius of Jim Harbaugh to use the read option offense. The option confused Packers defenders all day long as Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now, he did throw 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the read option is what killed the Packers. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was heavily criticized following the game for not stopping the option. Lucky for Capers, the Packers play the 49ers week 1. After that game, we will know if Capers did his homework over the off season. 3. Who fills the void of former wide receiver Greg Jennings? When he was healthy, Greg Jennings was a pro bowl caliber receiver. Now Jennings is with the Vikings, which leaves an open spot in the Packers offense. The expectations are for receivers James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb to be Aaron Rodgers main targets, along with tight end Jermichael Finley. The question is, who will emerge as the fifth target for Rodgers? The top two candidates for the job are Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin. Ross was used primarily in the return game, while Boykin caught only five passes, including a clutch fourth down reception against the Vikings. No matter who wins the job, the gap left by Greg Jennings needs to be filled. 4. Who will win the starting running back job? Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin were drafted in this past years draft to help improve the Packers running game. They join James Starks, Alex Green, and DuJuan Harris to compete for the starting job. Starks shined during the Packers playoff run, while Green and Harris swapped the starting job last year as Starks recovered from knee surgery. Will the veterans prove they should be starters, or will the two rookies show why they were drafted? The running game has been nonexistent since Ryan Grant started having injury issues. With five running backs on the roster, at least one should be able to fix the problem. 5. Will Mason Crosby have a bounce back season? Prior to last season, Mason Crosby was making field goals with ease, clearing the goal post by many feet. After missing two field goals against the Colts last year, the goal got smaller, along with Crosbys confidence. Every time he lined up for a field goal, Packer fans were holding their breath. At the end of last season, Crosby started to make his field goals, and his confidence looked like it had improved. Coach McCarthy brought in competition for Crosby, just in case his kicking woes return. As long as Crosby keeps making his field goals like the end of last season, his job will not be in jeopardy.

Packers’ rookie RBs expected to carry the load

Casey Hayward, who flourished in the nickel role as a rookie last season with a team-high six interceptions, and a healthy Davon House figure to push for starting gigs. Right tackle. The fallout from head coach Mike McCarthy’s unusual offseason flip of tackle Bryan Bulaga and Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton from the left side to the right side of the offensive line leaves a potentially significant void at Bulaga’s old spot. Marshall Newhouse, the displaced fourth-year left tackle, presumably will get first shot at right tackle when training camp opens. He will have to fend off the feisty Don Barclay, who as an undrafted rookie started the final six games of last season at the position with Bulaga sidelined, and perhaps a worthy rookie challenger such as David Bakhtiari (fourth round). ———————————————– NFL Team Report – Green Bay Packers – NOTES, QUOTES –The Packers and safety Morgan Burnett reached agreement on a four-year contract extension worth $24.75 million, the NFL Network reported. According to the report, $8.25 million is guaranteed. Burnett, a third-round draft pick in 2010, was heading into the final season of his rookie contract and could have become a free agent in March if he had not signed an extension. He has started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons for the Packers.

Green Bay Packers

But you know what? They drafted Franklin to protect themselves. They did a good job getting the extra guy.” Franklin, according to Van Pelt, isn’t the prototypical big back the Packers have played with for 20 years. “But he runs hard and he’s tough to tackle,” said Van Pelt. “He’s always cutting and moving forward. What he lacks in size he makes up for in quickness.” Van Pelt appears to value the ability to pass protect as highly as the ability to run and catch. That’s why fullback John Kuhn was the third-down back almost all of last season. Would the Packers prefer a better athlete on third downs than Kuhn? “If you can get a guy you can trust and protect as good as John Kuhn,” replied Van Pelt. “He’s a safety blanket out there at times for Aaron (Rodgers).

Fantasy football 2013 draft preview: Green Bay Packers team report

However, in each of the last three seasons they haven’t ranked better than 20th in rushing offense. They’ve made it work, but there’s little doubt they’d like to get more out of their run game this year. Enter rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. The Packers selected the backs to improve an offense that averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season. While they’ll both have a role in the offense, it’s Lacy who warrants our fantasy attention. Lacy had a huge junior year at Alabama, running for 1,322 yards and finding the end zone 19 times, which helped carry the Crimson Tide to another National Championship. He immediately becomes the best running back in a potent offense, and that alone makes him a worthy starter in fantasy leagues. The Packers are likely to still use John Kuhn in goal-line packages, but Lacy is not some slight back like James Starks. The 230-pound wrecking ball is perfectly capable of bulldozing his way into the end zone in short-yardage situations. It’s not all good news, however.

Big changes on Packers’ offensive line – Part 1

Wed., Jul. The meeting will take place rain or shine. Thu., Jul. 25, 2013 10:00AM – 10:30AM CDT Live McCarthy’s season-opening press conference Head Coach Mike McCarthys season-opening press conference Fri., Jul. 26, 2013 8:20AM – 10:20AM CDT *Public practice *Any practices moved inside to the Don Hutson Center due to inclement weather, poor field conditions or for any other reason will be closed to the public due to space limitations. All outdoor practices are expected to be held on Ray Nitschke Field (across from the Resch Center). Type of practice (pads or shells) is subject to change without notice. All times indicated are Central. Fri., Jul.

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