How We'll Cover This Season: Meet The Five
A perpetual challenge for a website like The Power Sweep is to come up with ways to talk about the Packers. Your options are to try to do what professional sportswriters do, only with less access and without getting paid for it, or to try to do something completely different.
If you’ve read any of what we’ve done so far at The Power Sweep, you’ll realize that we are, in fact, different from what you get elsewhere in the Packers’ corner of the internet.
That said, our goal for covering the Packers this year at The Power Sweep isn’t to cover the Packers. Not the whole team, at least. Just five players.
We’ll still talk about the whole team, but we want to cover five players in depth. We wanted these five players to represent different parts of the roster. These are players who will contribute on offense, defense, and special teams and who come to the 2016 version of the Packers at very different points in their career.
We hope that these players will represent the best the Packers have to offer, and by covering them, we hope that some compelling storylines will emerge. Each weekday during the season, we’ll break down a member of The Five’s performance in the previous game.
Let’s meet The Five.
Eddie Lacy, The Runner
Do you remember the summer of 2015, when Eddie Lacy was the best fantasy football player available? That honor sure disappeared quickly, as did much of the Packers’ running game with Lacy’s sharp decline.
This year, Lacy is at a career crossroads. He’s 26 years old, in his fourth season, and stands to see a life-changing amount of money at the end of this season if things go well. If they don’t, Lacy could find himself playing for peanuts, or even playing nowhere at all.
Lacy is clearly a proud man. He worked hard in the off-season to reshape his body, and he seems to have succeeded in that respect. Whether that off-season success translates into something we see on the field this season remains to be seen.
Julius Peppers, The Legend
Only five players in NFL history have had seasons in which they’ve logged at least seven sacks, two interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns.
Julius Peppers has done it twice.
The first time was in 2004, at the tender young age of 24. The second time was in 2014. Peppers was 34.
Suffice it to say, there has never been a football player like Julius Peppers.
Even otherworldly talents like Peppers can’t go on forever, though. At 36 and at the end of a three year deal with the Packers, Peppers may be about ready to ride off into the sunset. How he rides away will depend in large part in his performance this year. Peppers needs just six sacks to jump into the top-five all-time, but his true goal has to be a Super Bowl ring. How he plays in a more limited capacity this year will determine a major portion of his Hall of Fame legacy.
Jared Abbrederis, The Local
Only a few players on the Packers have more fan support than Jared Abbrederis. Aaron Rodgers is surely one, what with the two MVPs, the Super Bowl ring, and numerous NFL and Packers passing records.
Jeff Janis may be another, featuring his own unique brand of playoff heroics and tantalizing measurables.
Abbrederis, though, has a different kind of support. This is the sort of fan backing that only appears if you’re one of us in the truest sense that a member of the Packers can be. Abbrederis certainly is.
Raised in nearby Algoma, Abbrederis made his collegiate mark at Wisconsin first as a walk-on, then as a star. As a Packers draft pick, Abbrederis may have been close to canonization on the spot.
But until this year, Jared Abbrederis had never made an NFL roster based on his training camp performance. Entering his third season, he has just nine regular season receptions to his name. Even this year, Abbrederis figures to face plenty of stiff competition from fellow draft picks Trevor Davis, Ty Montgomery, Davante Adams, and the aforementioned Janis.
On the heels of his best training camp to date, is this the year Abbrederis finally makes the leap from folk hero to actual performer?
Jared Cook, The Newcomer
The Packers have been looking for a successor to Jermichael Finley ever since the first time Finley’s career was put in jeopardy by a serious injury. Even after his knee recovered, the Packers could never find anyone to mimic the athleticism and explosiveness Finley brought to the table.
That person could be Jared Cook.
“Could” is a word that seems to have followed Cook to every stop of his career so far. He could have been great in Tennessee if they’d had better quarterbacks. He could have lived up to his monster contract in St. Louis if he’d only held onto the ball better.
He could be the answer for the Packers at tight end.
Jordy Nelson’s knee injury was undeniably devastating for the Packers’ passing offense. With Nelson gone, the Packers had no big bodies to attack the middle of the field. Now, with Nelson easing back into the lineup as he tests his knee in actual competition for the first time in almost two years, Jared Cook could be the guy to step up and pick up the slack.
If he does, it could change the trajectory of the rest of his career.
Blake Martinez, The Rookie
You can’t help but compare Blake Martinez to A.J. Hawk.
Try as he might, the specter of the last man to hold down the middle of the Packers defense long-term (while wearing number 50, no less) will haunt Martinez until he proves that he’s a cut above his predecessor.
Like Hawk, Martinez is billed as a tackling machine. Like Hawk, Martinez is a heady, athletic player. But Hawk rarely made splash plays, and splash plays have been all-too common against the middle of the Packers defense in recent years.
Martinez was drafted to prevent those big plays, specifically in the passing game. Hopefully, Martinez will be at least average in coverage, allowing the Packers to keep Clay Matthews outside where he belongs.
If he can do that, Martinez will already be well on his way toward differentiating himself from Hawk.