Four Thoughts for a Fourth Preseason Game

Here it is: preseason game number four. It should have been number five, but the turf in Canton saw to the end of that idea. No, here we are at the fourth and final preseason game, and I am glad.

 Head coach Mike McCarthy leads the Packers into tonight's fourth preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Head coach Mike McCarthy leads the Packers into tonight's fourth preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

From a blogging perspective, I’d hoped something obvious would emerge as a candidate for a storyline for this evening’s game, but alas: there’s been almost nothing to distinguish this particular game from anything else we’ve seen in the preseason. That feels like a pattern.

This has been the most interesting uninteresting training camp I can remember in some time. There have been no (knocks very firmly on wood) catastrophic injuries, or many injuries to speak of at all. There have been no controversial storylines; everyone has remained standing throughout all three national anthems so far. There hasn’t even really been an outstanding undrafted rookie free agent who’s made a roster push as a result of big-time performances, like Jayrone Elliott or Vic So’oto in past years.

Instead, we’ve seen what probably should be considered the logical conclusion of a Ted Thompson-constructed Packers team: a deep, talented squad that features ferocious position battles between equally skilled players at key positions.

So rather than one specific thing to focus on in tonight’s game, I give you four thoughts.

1. Joe Callahan is probably auditioning for other teams

He’s made some fun plays, sure, but I maintain that Joe Callahan isn’t the answer to the question “what happens if Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley both get injured?” Most of the Callahan Experience has unfolded against the soft underbellies of opposing teams’ rosters, and I don’t think his style would translate well to an extended run against any team’s number one offense.

That’s not to say most third string quarterbacks wouldn’t have the same sort of struggles. I just think that if Callahan is going to end up on a 53 man roster, it probably won’t be in Green Bay. If he does stay with the Packers, it’s probably as a member of the practice squad.

2. There’s an opportunity to be had on the defensive line

Defensive line is easily the Packers’ weakest position, and it’s about to become weaker with the imminent departure of Mike Pennel in the form of a four game suspension. If the Packers stick with their recent trend and keep five true linemen, Christian Ringo would probably be the fifth out of the five, and although he’s racked up a couple sacks, I don’t think anyone is especially excited about keeping him. Tyler Kuder and Brian Price might be able to make a late push.

3. The third string running back battle may not be over

I don’t think Brandon Burks is out of the woods yet, but he may not actually be competing against running backs for the third string job. It’s just as likely that he’s battling against the contributions of Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery.

Over the past several years, Cobb and Montgomery have begun to be used in ways consistent with how most teams use their third string (or third down) running backs: lining up next to Aaron Rodgers in shotgun formations, moving all over the formation during high-tempo drives, and basically serving as a player designed to be used in space.

If the Packers want to continue to use Cobb and Montgomery in this fashion, I wonder if they really need a third running back at all. Green Bay didn’t even have three running backs active for most of its games last year, and this could be a sneaky way to keep more wide receivers on the roster.

4. The battle of defensive backs won’t be decided by tonight’s game

The Packers have (approximately) 37 good defensive backs in camp this year, and unfortunately they can’t keep them all. At cornerback, the final couple roster spots will be divided among Robertson Daniel, Josh Hawkins, Makinton Dorleant, and Warren Gatewood. The safety group will see its fourth (and possibly fifth) slots given to Chris Banjo, Kentrell Brice, and Marwin Evans.

As close as the competition in these groups has been, it’s tough to see it being decided by tonight’s game. Coaches will have to weigh every bit of evidence, not just a splash play against the Chiefs. As popular as the idea of fourth game heroics landing a player a spot on the roster might be, I am far from convinced that will be the case tonight.

NewsJon Meerdink