The NFL is back, and so are our World Champion Green Bay Packers. Camp is set to open this week and once again we are being picked as NFC North Division favorites, as well as Super Bowl favorites (Just ask Peter King of SI.com).
Here is a quick breakdown of activities going on this week.
Wednesday - Players can start showing up at the facilities to pick up playbooks, talk with coaches, get treatment, whatever, no practice is set to take place.
Friday - Training camp begins, conditioning tests, first meetings as a team, players hugging it out for an awesome season last year.
Saturday - Free Agency officially starts, trades can officially take place
Before any of that happens though, there are some issues to address to tidy up our world championship house. Going into training camp some outstanding questions include: will the long layoff hurt the team, will our running game be able to step up this year and help out Aaron Rodgers, what are the key battles going into this year, who will be cut, who will be resigned, who will be signed as a URFA?
Question number one is an easy one. The long layoff will not only not hurt our team, it may have actually helped our team. Last year, no team had more people on injured reserve at key positions than the Green Bay Packers. This long layoff allowed players like Ryan Grant to heal up properly and get back to peak performance.
Question two is more important, will our running game be better this year. In one word, YES. Not only have NFL rule changes regarding the passing game allowed us mask our running game woes, but Ryan Grant will be back in the mix this year, and we will have our outstanding backups in case of any injury. Let's not also forget that Rodgers may be the best back on our team, and allows many things to open up based on his running threat. Our offensive line is as solid as any in the league, that along with Grant returning, with solid back ups James Starks and John Kuhn to fill in will boost our running game far past last years levels.
Question number three revolves around key training camp battles. Most Super Bowl winning teams do not have this problem and are set at most all positions, the Packers this year a a little bit different. The biggest battle this training camp will be at the strong safety position, Charlie Peprah vs Morgan Burnett. Burnett is the incumbent from last season, but a knee injury cut the rookies season short and allowed Peprah to step in and put in some solid work during the championship run. Morgan Burnett has much more athleticism and I expect him to win the job, however you cannot discount what Peprah did, and Mike McCarthy will be keeping a close eye on both. This battle is likely to be going on throughout the entire preseason, and should be fun to watch. After all, a little competition never hurt anyone, and on a team that just won the championship, this will be good for business.
Question four is a little bit trickier. The one person that we know will not be coming back is Nick Barnett, after 8 seasons of solid work at middle backer, Barnett was replaced by Desmond Bishop who was then immediately rewarded with a long term deal along with AJ Hawk. That means there was no room for Barnett, we are getting younger at the position, which is great for the team. Other key questions revolve around James Jones, according to Aaron Rodgers, he is a "Must have" piece of the team, and I expect fully for him to be resigned. Regarding unrestricted free agents, I think we can all forget about Nnamdi Asomugha, he is going to cost between $18 - $20 million a year, combine that with TT's reluctance to ever spend big in free agency, and we have a pretty solid conclusion regarding that.
This is going to be an exciting season, lets get fired up and ready to roll.
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